It’s pretty difficult to make a great homemade Philly cheesesteak, but this recipe pretty much nails it, with crispy browned beef and perfect melted cheese!
In my world, there are sandwiches (meh) and then there are sandwiches. A meh sandwich is some cold deli meat and maybe some cheese slapped between a couple of slices of bread. A sandwich is this. Philly cheesesteak. For me, it’s the be-all and end-all of sandwiches. I’ve only been to Philadelphia once, when I went to an educational event in Valley Forge as sophomore in high school. They took us to Philadelphia for a couple of hours and didn’t even bother to take us to Geno’s or Pat’s. The nerve (not that I knew any better back then)!
It’s pretty difficult to find great Philly cheesesteak. I’ve had a perfect one before, from The Yellow Submarine that used to be in downtown Chattanooga (also known as The Electric Submarine for a while because of some copyright issues). Sadly, it’s no longer in existence. No one else has ever been able to measure up…they range from too-crusty bread topped with unmelted cheese, too-thick beef, and vegetables that are still crispy, to your average fast-food sandwich shop that serves too-soft bread topped with a little soggy meat, some cheese, and whatever plethora of toppings you might want to add (I do like Charley’s-the little food court joint-but it’s not anywhere close to The Yellow Sub).
Making a great homemade Philly cheesesteak has always been futile too. I’ve never been able to figure out just the right cut of meat that isn’t too greasy or tough and the right cheese to melt perfectly into the meat. Enter America’s Test Kitchen. Have you guys figured out that I like ATK just a little bit? After I watched Julia and Chris whip up a homemade Philly cheesesteak in the Test Kitchen, I knew that I had to make it. And when I did? I couldn’t stop raving about the sandwich. It was THE. BEST. CHEESESTEAK. I’VE EVER. HAD.
The secrets? Freeze the meat (skirt steak) to make it easy to slice super-thin, then chop it up into even tinier pieces. And American cheese. Yep. Rather than buying some kind of American singles, I get the fancy deli kind that they have to slice for you. You can’t beat it for melting (unless you go super traditional and use Cheez Whiz!). I’ve also given up my insistence on always using homemade bread. Sometimes (a) you just don’t have time to make hoagie rolls (like, you know, the first month of school when you are a teacher), and (b) store-bought bread (the kind from the bakery, not the kind from the bread aisle) sometimes has a texture edge over homemade, unless you’re a professional.
I’m sure that Geno and Pat can out-cheesesteak me any day, but as far as what’s available around these parts (i.e. any part other than Philadelphia) this homemade Philly cheesesteak is as good as it gets-and it’s pretty darn good.
Have you ever nailed a homemade Philly cheesesteak? Tell me about your favorite Philly cheesesteak!
Yield: 4 sandwiches
This recipe is from America's Test Kitchen
1 hr, 10 Prep Time:
20 minCook Time:
1 hr, 30 Total Time:
- 2 lbs skirt steak, trimmed of fat
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 1 small or ½ large bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces white American cheese slices
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 4 hoagie rolls, split lengthwise but not cut all the way through
- Place the steak in the freezer. Freeze for one hour.
- Cook the vegetables: A few minutes before you remove the steak from the freezer, preheat one tablespoon of the oil over medium in a 10-inch nonstick skillet (nonstick is important because the cheese will burn and stick like crazy in a regular pan). Add the onions and peppers and cook until they are beginning to soften, then add the mushrooms and cook until tender and browned. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
- Slice and cook the steak: Remove the steak from the freezer and slice as thinly as possible against the grain. Lay the strips of steak on the cutting board and finely chop in the opposite direction to make very small pieces of meat. Wipe out the skillet and preheat one tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add half of the meat and spread into a single layer, cooking until browned on one side (4-5 minutes) then stir and cook until cooked through. Remove the meat to a colander set over a bowl. Wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining meat.
- Place the meat and vegetables into the pan and stir to combine. Sprinkle the parmesan over the meat then shingle the American cheese over the meat and allow to melt for about two minutes. Stir the cheese into the meat. Divide the meat among the four rolls and serve immediately (I like to use mayo on mine as well but I have no idea if this is in any way appropriate for an “authentic” Philly cheesesteak.