Bite Club: How to Make a Philly Cheesesteak

Meat. Cheese. Bread. Go forth. 
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Meat. Cheese. Bread. Go forth. 
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There aren’t many things I’m above eating. I’ll eat queso-less quesadillas from vegan restaurants, teriyaki chicken from American-flag-toting diners, and drive-through offerings that may or may not contain real beef are a staple in my diet. But I refuse to order a cheesesteak from a restaurant whose sole purpose on this Earth is anything other than making dope-ass cheesesteaks.

It’s just never worth it. It’s always some cheap cut of unseasoned meat thrown in a bun with whatever white cheese the restaurant has in the walk-in, topped with some watery strips of bell pepper and a healthy dose of regret. And I’m mad about it. So mad that I, well, I made a bunch of cheesesteaks. Because that’s how I deal with my emotions. Come, learn how to cook things good.

Here's what you'll need: 

  • Rib eye steaks
  • White American cheese
  • Provolone cheese
  • Half and half
  • Hoagie rolls
  • White onion
  • Pickled cherry peppers

First things first, get yourself a few rib eye steaks and throw them in the freezer for at least half an hour. This is going to help you slice them super thin. Most cheesesteak joints get their rib eyes presliced in easy griddle-able sheets, so you want to create that same effect. Is it kind of weird that you’re spending this amount of time and effort in recreating something that’s generally sold for $6 a pop? Yes. Yes it is. Will you feel a renewed sense of self after doing so? Yes. Yes you will. Just like Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love, but with more trans fats.

Using the sharpest knife you have, slice those bad boys as thin as possible. Once all your steaks are all sliced up, let them come to room temperature in, I don’t know, a bowl or something. Maybe even a plate, I don’t know what you have in your kitchen.

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Then, get your onions going. Onions are absolutely essential to cheesesteaks. “But I don’t like onions,” you might say, stupidly. You do now. Rough dice a whole white onion and throw it in a large sauté pan with a little bit of butter on medium heat. You don’t want to caramelize them, just sweat them down so they’re tender. Reserve those in another bowl.

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Start making yourself a close approximation of Cheez Whiz. If you’re not familiar with the greatest pasteurized processed cheese food on the planet, Cheez Whiz is a salty, bright yellow, amorphous solid that comes in a jar, and it just so happens to make the best cheesesteaks. That said, you can do better in your own kitchen. Maybe. 

Heat a medium sauce pot on low and add in ¼ cup of half and half. When it starts to boil, wing in 6 slices of white American cheese, ½ cup of shredded smoked provolone, and a good ¼ tsp of salt, then stir for 2 minutes until it’s all melty. That extra saltiness, the hit of creamy liquid from the half and half, and that velvety mouthfeel from American cheese is going to get you the right consistency. If you don’t want to go the extra mile, accept your laziness for what it is, and just use some white American cheese on your sandwich instead.

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You always want to cook your steak last to ensure you have piping hot meat to steam up your buns. That’s just logic. Get a teaspoon of vegetable oil in a cast iron pan screaming hot—and I mean screaming hot—and throw down your meat strips. Season liberally with salt and pepper and sauté until it’s all nice and crusty and caramelized.

Slice a hoagie roll down the middle, lay down a solid base of cheese, then top with a hefty handful of hot meat, a sprinkling of sautéed onions, and some sliced cherry peppers. The cherry peppers count as a salad, so you can totally feel good about eating a four pack of beef-n-cheese calorie bombs for a casual meal.

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Still hungry? Check out the other installments of Bite Club here.

Photos by All photos by Josh Scherer