The cheesesteak, thin slices of griddled beef and cheese heaped on a toasted roll, is a Philadelphia treat that has made its way onto menus all across America. Partially freezing the beef makes it easier to slice it thinly without an electric slicer. Have plenty of napkins on hand to catch the inevitable drips.
- 1 1/4 lbs. boneless beef top loin or rib-eye steak, in one piece
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Canola oil as needed
- 6 ounces provolone cheese, thinly sliced
- 4 crusty French or Italian rolls, split
Freeze the meat until it is firm but not frozen, about 1 hour. Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, cut the meat across the grain into slices 1⁄4 inch thick. Using a meat pounder, pound the meat until it is a uniform 1⁄8 inch thick or thinner. Cut into pieces about 4 by 3 inches.
Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and stir well. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Uncover and stir in the garlic. Cook until the garlic is tender, 2 to 3 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Preheat the broiler. Heat a large griddle or 2 frying pans over medium-high heat until hot. Lightly oil the griddle, or add 1 Tbs. canola oil to each frying pan and tilt to coat the bottoms evenly with the oil. Add the meat slices and cook until browned on the undersides, about 1 minute. Turn the meat slices and divide on the griddle into 4 equal mounds. Top each mound with an equal amount of the provolone.
Cook until the undersides of the mounds are browned and the cheese is beginning to melt, about 1 minute longer.
Meanwhile, place the rolls, split side up, on a baking sheet and toast under the broiler until lightly crisped, about 1 minute. Transfer the rolls to plates. Using a metal spatula, transfer each mound of beef and cheese onto a toasted roll bottom. Spoon an equal amount of the onion-pepper mixture onto each mound, place the top of the roll on top and serve at once. Makes 4 sandwiches.
Variation: Mozzarella, mild cheddar and Monterey jack cheese are all good choices to replace the provolone. Instead of the onion-pepper mixture, cook only one or the other. Or, top the mounds of beef and cheese with warm marinara sauce.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2009).