This post was written by my foodie sister Robin, who is now sharing all of her favorite recipes and kitchen tips regularly on the new “Make It and Love It – in the KITCHEN” portion of this blog. Try a few of her recipes…your belly will thank you! -Ashley
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Hey guys, I know, a little hiatus….but I’m back! :)
But I want to tell you about the first time I visited Philly. While I was living in Boston (several years ago), I went on a little weekend trip to Philly with a few friends. We all wanted to check out the famous “Rocky” steps (and maybe reenact the famous boxing training scene…ha!) and of course partake of the famous and delicious, “PHILLY STEAK SANDWICH”. We decided to stop by a pretty famous steak sandwich restaurant in the city — I want to say it was called “Jim’s Steaks” (any locals want to help me out with that?) — and the line to order was out the door of the restaurant, and around the block. Yes, we waited outside, a block away, to give these steak sandwiches a try. Yum!
I remember when I ordered my sandwich, the guy behind the grill asked “Do you want whiz on that?” I had no idea what he was talking about so I said, “uh….Wiz?!!” The guy (probably quickly realizing I wasn’t from around there) pointed to a squirt can of nacho cheese and said, “Whiz!”
Oh my word, really?!?! Cheez Whiz? (I know what you’re probably thinking….processed and gross!) However, for this to be authentic, I guess had to go with the “whiz” — so I had him add it to my sandwich. (And this is when I made the connection that this is where the crazy slang name originated when “whiz” was added to steak sandwiches back east. Do they even sell this out west anymore? They probably do, but I haven’t paid attention.) But let me tell you…..I’m not a fan of Cheez Whiz AT ALL, but after eating my sandwich in Philly with “whiz” on it, I’m a follower. It really is delicious!
But, you can also skip it….and it’s pretty amazing too! (And if only you could smell this guy…)
Tender strips of seasoned steak, grilled onions, peppers, and mushrooms, a layer of melted cheese (and maybe some added “whiz”) and some fresh tomatoes — what’s not to LOVE?!!
And the best part — these are so quick to make! And are perfect for feeding large crowds of hungry friends!
I actually used to make these steak sandwiches at a steak restaurant I cooked for during college. This was the main sandwich served during lunch. And here is the secret that we used back in the kitchen to speed up the process, while keeping the meat tender. We cooked with — a bottle of water! I know, it sounds too easy to be true but a simple little bottle of water helped us cook all sorts of things really well and fast! Just little spritzes of water to help steam the meat and veggies and keep the from sticking, while letting them brown and enhance their own flavors. Nope, no added grease on the grill — and I kinda liked it that way!
Anyway, let me show you how easy these delicious sandwiches are to make!
Gather all your ingredients. (Not pictured: salt/pepper and cheez whiz)
Starting with the vegetables, you want a 2:1:1 ratio with the mushrooms to onions to bell pepper. You want double the mushrooms because they hold in water and shrink considerably more than the onions and bell peppers when cooked.
Place the mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers on a hot grill or skillet set at med high to high heat. Remember, no grease. Have your water ready and start squirting at the pile of vegetables, not too much because we don’t want them to boil we want them to grill. After a bit, you won’t need to add water because the mushrooms start sweating out water. The water helps the vegetable to not stick and burn, but will also let it brown, which adds a delicious flavor.
Grill the vegetables until the onions are translucent and they have an all around brown color to them like this…
Pull the vegetables off and set aside.
Now add your sliced beef to the pan. For these pictures, I purchased a carne picada at the grocery store. It isn’t the greatest choice, but it still worked and was delicious. This is how thick the pieces were but any thicker, I wouldn’t use it. (But I actually prefer a little thinner.)
Ideally for a great cheese steak you would get a ribeye and have the butcher slice it REALLY thin. Ribeye is pricey so a skirt steak or top sirloin will also do but just have the butcher slice it thin for you. I have also seen thinly sliced meat at Asian markets. It is used for hot pot but it will work as well and it is already sliced and ready to go. Bonus!
Now, place the sliced meat on your grill or pan and add some salt and pepper. I like to add a good amount of pepper so that I get a good pepper flavor when I am eating my sandwich. You don’t need other seasonings, so resist the urge and just use salt and pepper. They really do the job and enhance the flavor of the meat really well. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. (And you only need to squirt in water here and there to get the steam effect and loosen it off the pan or grill. But remember, use it sparingly, you don’t want boiled meat.)
Now, add in your vegetables and mix around to evenly distribute in the pan. Place the pieces of provolone covering the top of the meat and vegetables.
Tip: To speed things up, squirt a teeny bit of the water under the pieces of cheese to create some steam and help the cheese melt even faster. (I’m telling ya…..this squirt bottle really helped in a fast-paced restaurant kitchen.)
And that’s it for the meat. So take it off the heat and let’s assemble these sandwiches!
Now, if you are going with the “whiz” (to, you know, add an authentic flair that really is delicious!!) — go ahead and it to your sub rolls. Or leave it off…..it’s up to you! Then place the sliced tomatoes in there as well.
Then, scoop up the meat and vegetables and the cheese (each sandwich gets 1 of the slices that were melted on top) and place it into your sub roll.
There you go! It’s all done and ready to eat. And oh man, just seeing this picture reminds me of how good these guys smell……MMMMMM!
Simple, delicious, and really quick to whip up for a hungry crowd!
Philly Steak Sandwiches – Recipe Card
servings: 4 sandwiches
Coarsely chop the mushrooms, onions and bell peppers. Grill over med high to high heat using a bit of water to make sure it doesn’t stick to the pan. Pull vegetables out of the pan and set aside. Add sliced beef, salt and pepper to the emptied pan and cook using a bit of water to make sure it does not stick to the pan until it is no longer pink (but not too much water that it boils). Add cook vegetable back to the pan and mix well. Place provolone cheese on top until melted. Place sliced tomatoes and optional melted Cheez Whiz on all the sub rolls. Scoop meat and vegetable mixture on each of the sub rolls giving each sandwich one slice of cheese.