Last week, Jeff and I finally had time to eat a homecooked meal together again. And I made Philly cheese steak sandwiches because I had steak and cheese on the brain! We also had our first ears of corn of the season! I don't know about you, but when I get a craving, it usually lingers until I satisfy it. I can eat a million other things, but if I don't have just what I'm craving, I keep on craving it. This time it was cheese steaks.
Let me tell you how this craving started... several years ago, my mom and I took a trip to Philly, and I fell completely in love with the city.
I loved the buildings. We went to a couple of open houses just to see how cool those row houses look inside.
I even checked the price of rent at some dockside apartments ($3,000 a month for a studio!).
I wanted to move to Philly. I loved the atmosphere. And, oh, boy, did I love the food! I think we spent hours wandering around the Reading Terminal Market, tasting a bit of this and a bit of that, and really swooning over the pork dumplings.
We chowed down on our very first cheese steak sandwiches at Jim's on South Street, and I had my first taste of scrapple at the South Street Diner. Scrapple is delicious -- just don't think about it.
We've gone back a couple of times since then, bringing along various family members. One time, I believe it was when I was there with my mom, dad, my dad's mom, and my two youngest siblings, we decided to do a "steak off" (not to be confused with a stake out). (I honestly have all the visits a little jumbled together because they were so long ago, and I don't think I had a digital camera for that first visit. These pictures are from two later visits. If I'm wrong about who was there, I know my other sister will set me straight!)
We stopped at Jim's, Pat's, and Geno's all in one night to sample the cheese steak sandwich offerings and choose our favorites. It may shock you to hear that we didn't choose the ever popular, well-known Pat's or Geno's, but we all agreed Jim's was the best.
I love walking in and watching them chop the meat right on the grill, sauteeing the veggie options alongside. A true Philly native would go with a Whiz wit (Cheez Whiz and onions), which I tried on one visit, but I prefer provolone, peppers, onions, and tomatoes on mine.
But that was all a long time ago, so why the sudden craving? Well, my mom and my youngest sister have been making frequent trips to Philly lately (my sister has been visiting colleges and also went down to run the UPenn relays) and sending me text messages about being at Jim's and having cheese steaks. Aren't they sweet?
I began to really miss Jim's and good cheese steaks, so I decided I would attempt to make my own. These aren't too shabby for the homemade variety, and they've managed to subdue that constant craving I was walking around with, but I know I still need to get down to Jim's again at some point. I don't think I've been there in three years now.
I tried a recipe from the Food Network, specifically from Emeril, which I really liked but had to make some changes to. You'll be happy I tested this one out because there were missing ingredients and incorrect instructions. It should work perfectly for you now!
Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches (adapted from the Food Network)
Serves 2 very hungry people
(Print this recipe)
2 fresh rolls of your choice, split in half crosswise, and toasted if desired
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 large green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 pound rib-eye steak, very very thinly shaved or sliced (it's easiest to thinly slice it if you freeze it first)
6 slices white American cheese (or any kind of cheese you like)
One small tomato, diced (if desired)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat a cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Add the oil, onions, and peppers, and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized or just softened, depending how you like your veggies. Stir in the garlic and salt and pepper, and saute for 30 seconds. Push veggies off to one side of the pan or transfer to a plate.
Add the meat to the hot pan and cook, stirring and breaking up with the back of 2 metal spatulas (this made me very nervous because I was afraid of ruining the surface of my pan, so the meat was not as broken up as it would be at a real cheese steak place), until almost no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Mix in the sauteed vegetables.
Spoon the meat mixture into the rolls, top with tomatoes, if desired, and cheese, and place in the oven for 2 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
Where do you find your perfect cheese steak sandwich? And what's on it?