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Jason Perlow

Making an Authentic Philly Cheesesteak at Home

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So, I've been hankering for a real Philly Cheesesteak recently and I'd like to try to reproduce one at home as best as possible.

First, excepting the fact I live in Northern New Jersey and no "real" Philly cheesesteak can be made outside of metropolitan Philadelphia, assume I lived in Philadelphia and I wanted to make one at home.

I know the essential meat component is thinly sliced Ribeye, which I was able to buy at my local Korean supermarket. Check. Next are the onions and green peppers. Check. Now, this is where things get murky. What kind of bread exactly fits within acceptable parameters? And while i realize Provolone or American are acceptable "variants" at the Philly cheesesteak houses, you gotta use "Whiz" to make an original cheesesteak. What exactly is acceptable as Whiz? The spray Cheez-Whiz that comes in a can? Processed melted Velveeta sauce? What exactly?

And is there a specific griddling technique and assemblage method?


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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So, I've been hankering for a real Philly Cheesesteak recently and I'd like to try to reproduce one at home as best as possible.

First, excepting the fact I live in Northern New Jersey and no "real" Philly cheesesteak can be made outside of metropolitan Philadelphia, assume I lived in Philadelphia and I wanted to make one at home.

I know the essential meat component is thinly sliced Ribeye, which I was able to buy at my local Korean supermarket. Check. Next are the onions and green peppers. Check. Now, this is where things get murky. What kind of bread exactly fits within acceptable parameters? And while i realize Provolone or American are acceptable "variants" at the Philly cheesesteak houses, you gotta use "Whiz" to make an original cheesesteak. What exactly is acceptable as Whiz? The spray Cheez-Whiz that comes in a can? Processed melted Velveeta sauce? What exactly?

And is there a specific griddling technique and assemblage method?

There is an actual product from Kraft in a jar that is actually Cheez-Whiz.

http://www.kraftfoods.com/cheezwhiz/cw_index.html

Tastes just like the squirty stuff in a can to me. I would think they are versions of the same product, with a different delivery method.

I love the FAQs on these sites. Here is a quick quote:

"Can I heat CHEEZ WHIZ Pasteurized Processed Cheese Sauce in the microwave?

Transfer contents of jar to a microwaveable bowl.

Microwave on HIGH 2 to 2-1/2 minutes or until heated through, making sure to stir every minute.

DO NOT microwave the CHEEZ WHIZ in its original jar, since this may cause the jar to break.

Still have a question....contact us"

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Actually, the stuff in the bottle is apparently called Easy Cheese, not Cheez-Whiz. Still Kraft, though.

Easy Cheese

Ragu also makes a melted cheese sauce which sounds really similar, but now we are again getting into "like" products as opposed to what is actually used. I presume melted Velveeta is also similar to Cheese-Whiz spread since it is also a Kraft product.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Kraft produces Cheez Whiz in a #10 can for the restaurant trade - that's probably what they use at the cheese steak houses

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Actually, the stuff in the bottle is apparently called Easy Cheese, not Cheez-Whiz. Still Kraft, though.

Easy Cheese

Ragu also makes a melted cheese sauce which sounds really similar, but now we are again getting into "like" products as opposed to what is actually used. I presume melted Velveeta is also similar to Cheese-Whiz spread since it is also a Kraft product.

OK, now I am confused. I thought the EZ Cheese came in the can with the handy dispenser, decorator nozzle, and was squirted at the suitable carrier food. And Cheese Whiz came in the jar, and was quite often warmed up and mixed with salsa to make a "nifty" salsa con queso, or warmed and poured over vegetables for a "quick and easy, elegant, side dish, that will impress your friends."

It's been a while, but I cannot recall being able to distinguish between the cheesiness of the two products. And they all taste like Velveeta, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in the blue box.

I think Kraft must have a patent on whatever it is that is the root of all this cheesiness. Or is that Chester the Cheetah? It's not easy being cheesy...

:biggrin:

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Cra* Jason there goes my healthy eating and weight loss resolution. :blink:

Mike


-Mike & Andrea

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Okay, first what up with the peppers? :wacko: There's no peppers in a (proper) Philly cheese steak. And, you can resolve the whiz problem by putting the proper cheese on the steak: provolone :wub:

Not that I have opinions on the subject!

Getting good fresh rib eye is great. Good for you! I generally use a frozen rib eye bought from Costco, which by the way tastes great. The bread should be a somewhat crusty sub roll, but soft still.

I brown the meat in a pan, add sauce and then melt the cheese over the mix in the pan. Place in roll and mangia. If you are going to use whiz, then just slather the roll with it, and place meat (with or without sauce)on top.

It aint Jim's or Geno's but hey, it's a fix!!

Damn.......gotta make a run to the store to get the fixins now. Ugh.

BTW, onions are totally acceptable. :wink:


Edited by monavano (log)

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I see that Holly, a true expert and connoisseur is browsing the thread, so some high quality advice must be on the way... but my two philadelphian cents on the issue are as follows:

1. No peppers. Fried onions are a option, but leave the peppers for the italian sausage sandwiches.

2. Shave your meat while it is frozen to get the thickness right.

3. The choice of cheese (or cheeze) is by far a secondary consideration after the right bread. Whiz is ok, but I prefer provolone.

4. Sauce (red tomato stuff) is an option, isn't bad sometime, but is not required, and is often superfluous. Use good meat and good cheese and let them speak for themselves.

5. Get good Philly bread. Amoroso's Bakery delivers into NJ... their rolls are totally acceptable cheesesteak containment units. Beware rolls that are too soft, or are lacking in a good crust. Bread structureis key to cheesesteak integrity once all of the meat and cheese juices get oozing...


Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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monavano, how do you season the meat? S&P? Nothin'?

Good question. Actually no seasoning at all. The philly cheese steak overall has mild flavors. Even if you add onions, they should be mellowed out by gently cooking them until transluscent. Sauce, ie: marinara, provides a bit a spice and salt. It's all about hot meat, melting cheese and grease / sauce soaked rolls.

I just looked in my freezer and wanted to give the brand of the shaved beef I use. It's a frozen product I get from Costco. It's called Steak*Eze. Distributed by Advance Brands, Oklahoma City, OK.

Put it frozen, in a really hot pan (maybe a touch of veg oil) and it's ready in minutes. I drain most of the grease, then add sauce, bring to temp and add cheese to melt all gooey. Like I said, slap it in a roll and oh......heaven.

BTW.....no grilling or browning or heating the roll. NO!

edited to add: If you see a frozen "minute steak" like product in your store labeled "Philly Steak" ie: it's for making cheese steaks, for Pete's sake don't buy it. It's absolute crap. Buy the real deal if you can't get the frozen product above.

edited to also add: Costco also has decent sub rolls. Not Amorosso, but hey. They also have provolone and marinara, so yes......my Philly cheese steak can be made ala Costco. And I"ll tell ya, it's a helluva lot better than the "steak and cheese" I have here in Virginia.

Fortunately, I can get my fix when I frequently visit in NE Philly, with Jim's, and Steve's King of Steaks. The latter I heartily recommend.


Edited by monavano (log)

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Whiz vs. American vs. provolone:

American--melts better than provolone, so the meat and cheese are "one"; creamy texture; adds a salty flavor to the finished product

Provolone (the sliced, mild supermarket deli kind, not the crumbly sharp kind)--tangy flavor, melts "stringy" and tends to firm up quickly (my favorite for flavor but not for texture)

Whiz--the best of both worlds?? Creamy, drippy, tangy and salty

I like my rolls a little crusty, not too soft or hard. Soft rolls get too mushy, hard rolls too crumbly. I season the meat with just a little S&P (personal preference).


John

"I can't believe a roasted dead animal could look so appealing."--my 10 year old upon seeing Peking Duck for the first time.

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Provolone (the sliced, mild supermarket deli kind, not the crumbly sharp kind)-

Good point. Sharp provolone is for Roast Pork Italians.

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If chipped beef with onions, provolone and marinara is Philly cheese steak, then what is:

Chipped beef with onions, mushrooms and pepper jack cheese, seasoned lightly with Lawry's and served on a roll with mayo and pickled Halapenos?

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If chipped beef with onions, provolone and marinara is Philly cheese steak, then what is:

Chipped beef with onions, mushrooms and pepper jack cheese, seasoned lightly with Lawry's and served on a roll with mayo and pickled Halapenos?

A very yummy sammich?? :smile:

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If chipped beef with onions, provolone and marinara is Philly cheese steak, then what is:

Chipped beef with onions, mushrooms and pepper jack cheese, seasoned lightly with Lawry's and served on a roll with mayo and pickled Halapenos?

Obviously, it's a chipped beef sandwich with onions, mushrooms and pepper jack cheese, seasoned lightly with Lawry's and served on a roll with mayo and pickled Halapenos. :raz:


John

"I can't believe a roasted dead animal could look so appealing."--my 10 year old upon seeing Peking Duck for the first time.

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All sorts of issues here starting with the thread title as it was originally posted. "Authentic" and "Philly" are superfluous. And cheesesteak is not two words.

The original cheesesteak was built with provolone. But that is only because back then chemistry and plastics had not evolved to the point that Kraft had the technology available to conjure up CheezeWhiz. It was one of those eureka moments when a grill cook first nestled a cheesesteak with cheeze. Synergy in its purest form. A good sandwich became a great sandwich. Nowadays one doesn't even order a cheesesteak. "Whiz with" says it all.

The bread indeed does make the cheesesteak. And Amaroso bakes that bread. In north Jersey, maybe a torpedo roll. Or a trip down the turnpike.

Thin sliced ribeye is the way to go. And a Korean supermarket is a good place to buy it. We're not talking prime dry-aged ribeye for a cheesesteak. Think Elsie. Cooking is difficult. Yes, the steak is cooked on a grill. But it is cooked in vast quantities, so the meat is more steamed in its own juices than it is grilled like a steak or a burger. Maybe covering it with a pot lid as it cooks will hold in some of those juices.

Peppers on a cheesesteak. Avant Garde. It is not done hereabouts. One can order a cheesesteak with sauce - a pizza steak. In my opinion the sauce detracts from the delicate balance of the blend of greases from the steak, the onions and the whiz. Mushrooms is another option but is considered touristry. Cheesesteak hoagies, with lettuce and tomato, are an acceptable variation if one won't be getting roughage elsewhere that day.

As to

Chipped beef with onions, mushrooms and pepper jack cheese, seasoned lightly with Lawry's and served on a roll with mayo and pickled Halapenos?
that is the kind of Philly Cheese Steak found at Los Angeles' Farmer's Market.

Edit: Semi-Correction - Just looked at the menu of my favorite cheesesteak place, Steve's King of Steaks. They do indeed offer sweet peppers as an option.


Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Ok, so it sounds like actual bell pepper is out. Just onions. I bought the EZ Cheese stuff because I couldn't find the Cheese Whiz, but it looks like the dispensed product is essentially identical. I also have American cheese avalaible and I will pick up some sliced deli Provolone as well to compare. I have also purchased some "Hoagie Rolls" fresh baked by Viera, a local Portuguese bakery in Newark, which seem to be the correct softness to crustiness ratio. I will be cooking the meat on my cast iron griddle, and I will cover it in order to try to seal in as much moisture as possible.

What other condiments are acceptable on a cheesesteak? Hot banana peppers? Ketchup? Holly, do we salt and pepper the meat before or after cooking or during the cooking process?

Also, toasted or untoasted rolls?


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Sounds like a good bread source, but a hoagie roll and a cheesesteak roll are different. More heft to a hoagie roll. You'll have to watch your meat to bread ratio. Perhaps some scooping of the bread or removal of the horizontal center third of the loaf.

I don't recall ever seeing a grillman salt or pepper the meat. Definitely not before. Typically those options are left to the customer.

Cheesesteaks and lousy french fries are the only places where I'll use ketchup. But I've only lived in Philadelphia for twenty-nine years. I think a lot of born and bred's skip all the condiments. Banana peppers strike me more as Chicago hot dog thing. I've never looked closely at the hot peppers at Pat's or Geno's, but I think they are more sliced hot italian peppers than banana peppers. No other condiments come to mind.

You better start cooking fast. I think the Mummers Parade goes on national TV at 3 PM with the String Bands and that's the time to be chomping a cheesesteak.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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OK, now you're starting to get on my nerves. :angry::smile:

Lobster salad for a lobster roll??????? Never, except at Maine McD's!!!

A little mayonnaise or a little melted butter perhaps. But nothing more.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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"a little mayonaise"

That, plus a little celery. What's wrong with that? We had fresh lobster with butter last night, so I don't need to just have the drizzled butter thing tonight.

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Celery is right tasty for a lobster salad but, to a Downeastener, adding celery to a lobster roll is akin to watering down the booze.

gallery_14_1128_3442.jpg

I was also going to ask who gets the lobster roll, Rachel or Jason, as it takes over a pound of lobster meat to make the above lobster roll from Red's in Wiscasset ME. :smile:


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Sorry, after 32 years in Philly, I don't know that it's ONE word. Damn it! It's a Cheesesteak. Too much exposure to the VA "steak and cheese".

You see why now I make it two words?

I've so gotten past shaking my head and practically crying over the south of Philly perversions of my fave homie food. It's a cheesesteak hoagie, for all intents and purposes.

I am very much looking forward to the fruits of your cheesesteak endevours Mr and Mrs Perlow. Please post pics!!

BTW...Holly, have you tried Steves in NE Philly (Bustleton Ave.)? Would love to know what your rating is!


Edited by monavano (log)

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