What is a Philly cheesesteak? It is a most comforting sandwich featuring very thinly sliced beef steak and melted cheese in a long hoagie roll and served sizzling hot. Typically included in the Philly cheesesteak are sautéed onions and green bell peppers.
Where did the Philly cheesesteak originate? This is easy enough to distinguish; the Philly cheesesteak hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and created by its fellow Philadelphians. Pat and Harry Olivieri are believed to be the first creators of the Philly cheesesteak, though the very first variation of the sandwich wasn’t exactly what we find today. And that is normally the case with every food invention; over time it gets tweaked to perfection.
So what ingredients went into the original Philly cheesesteak? Well the story goes something like this. In the 1930s, Pat and Harry Olivieri owned a hot dog stand near South Philadelphia’s Italian market. On one fateful day they decided to make an entirely new sandwich; the new sandwich contained chopped beef and grilled onions.
While they were enjoying their new creation for lunch, a cab driver nearby pulled up, noticed the sandwich, and asked Pat and Harry to make him the same one. After he was done eating, he suggested that Pat and Harry quit the hot dog stand altogether, and sell these new sandwiches instead! And guess what? Eventually, Pat and Harry Olivieri did just that.
First they began selling this new sandwich at their hot dog stand. This new beef and onion sandwich made Pat and Harry so popular, that they soon opened up their own restaurant called Pat’s King Of Steaks, which still operates today!
Since the original Philly cheesesteak featured beef and grilled onions, the addition of cheese was introduced later. Joe Lorenza, otherwise known as “cocky Joe”, was a manager at Pat and Harry’s Ridge Avenue location. The Olivieris said that it was Joe who first added provolone cheese to the sandwich.
Exactly what kind of meat is used traditionally in a Philly cheesesteak? The answer is rib-eye or top round. The rib-eye meat is a beef steak from the ribs section. The top round is the “round” section, or the rear leg of the cow.
However, other cuts of beef may be used as well. Sirloin is the section of the cow right next to the round, and may be used in Philly cheesesteak also.
The important preparation factor to remember is that the beef must be sliced extremely thin, and then it is usually broken apart even further while being browned in a pan. Delicate, thin slices of meat really makes the sandwich so easy and delicious to eat.
Can I substitute a different cheese for my Philly cheesesteak? Provolone, American cheese, and “cheez whiz” are the most commonly used cheeses used when preparing the Philly cheesesteak. The favorites are provolone and white American cheese, as the flavors of these cheeses are mild and consistency is medium.
What type of bread is used for Philly cheesesteak? As we can imagine, since Pat and Harry Olivieri owned a hot dog stand, the first Philly cheesesteak sandwich was made on a hot dog bun. Granted, hot dog buns in the 1930s were likely different than they are today, and more imaginative.
In Philadelphia, in the 1930s and today, bread rolls were baked fresh and delivered to restaurants every morning for Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. Amoroso’s in Philly, is a legendary bakery that many restaurants use to order their bread from. Amoroso’s ships their hearth- baked bread to restaurants, food organizations, and grocery stores throughout the country, and even the world, to those craving authenticity.
But now let’s take a look at what bread is traditionally used to make Philly cheesesteaks. The proper way to make a Philly cheesesteak is with a steak roll. These are otherwise known as hoagies, subs, or torpedo rolls. The roll should be light and crunchy on the outside, and soft on the inside.
The cheesesteak roll should be long and slender, but definitely not skinny. And the shape of the ends of the roll should be rounded. Can you substitute different bread for Philly cheesesteaks? You certainly could, but the overall traditional taste will be lost.
Most traditional cheesesteaks today feature the thinly sliced quality beef, provolone cheese, and grilled onions on a fresh long hoagie roll. But then let’s not forget the popular “add-ons!” These add-ons include sweet green peppers, spicy peppers, mushrooms, mayonnaise, and hot sauce. However many of these add-ons you want to include in your Philly cheesesteak, is entirely up to you!
Now that we know our stuff about the traditional Philly cheesesteak, let’s get started on making some ourselves!
What You Need:
4 Freshly baked hoagie rolls
1 lb rib-eye steak (thinly sliced)
1 lb white button mushrooms (sliced)
1 green bell pepper (chopped)
2 tsp olive oil
4 slices provolone cheese
1/2 onion (chopped)
Salt to taste
1/4 cup salted butter
If you’re getting your rib-eye steak at the butcher, ask them to slice it thinly for you. I also recommend purchasing your hoagie rolls from a local bakery to ensure freshness.
Now let’s get started! To brown and cook the meat, you’ll need a griddle (best option) or a sauce pan (second best option). Add olive oil to your griddle or pan, and brown the meat. Add the chopped onion and sauté. Then add mushrooms and green bell pepper and sauté.
Season with salt to taste. Separate the meat mixture into 4 sections in your saucepan, and add a slice of provolone cheese on top of each section. Cover with a lid and cook until cheese is melted. Use a spatula to slide the sections off onto a large plate.
Slice the hoagie rolls through on one side, open, and use half a stick of salted butter to rub the inside of the roll. You don’t want a lot of butter; just enough for some flavor and enough to help give the roll a nice toast.
Now place the rolls face down on the griddle or pan and toast for about 2 minutes. Use a spatula to slide each of the meat veggie and melted cheese goodness into each toasted hoagie roll. This recipe makes 4 Philly cheesesteaks.