Hear The Liberty Bell’s Call: Crafting A True Philly Cheesesteak

With a few pointers, you'll be on your way to creating an authentic rendition of the sandwich Philadelphians have been enjoying since the 1930s.

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June 27, 2017 3 min read

The Philly cheesesteak is the best known culinary export from the City of Brotherly Love and an American fast food classic. Whether you’re a longtime fan or an Austin culinary arts student interested in regional foods, you should try your hand at making this uniquely satisfying sandwich. With a few pointers, you’ll be on your way to creating an authentic rendition of the sandwich Philadelphians have been enjoying since the 1930s.

1. Juicy beef is a must

“Freeze the meet before cutting it.”

A great cheesesteak starts with the meat, and the most common choices are either a rib-eye or top-round steak. However, many different cuts of beef may be used with tasty results. Bon Appetit emphasized the importance of looking for pieces with plenty of marbling to achieve the juiciest final product, recommending boneless short ribs as an inexpensive alternative.

At cheesesteak restaurants, the beef is usually cut with a deli slicer. If you don’t have one of these machines handy in your kitchen, you can achieve a similar effect by freezing the meat before cutting it with a knife. Cook the meat in oil on a griddle over high heat, adding plenty of salt and pepper and your choice of toppings.

2. Assemble the right veggies and roll

There are a variety of toppings that serve well on top of your perfectly cooked strips of beef. Fried onions, bell peppers and sauteed mushrooms are all regularly featured on cheesesteaks. According to Visit Philadelphia, some shops also offer cold, hoagie-style toppings like lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise.

The choice of bread is another major factor in perfecting your sandwich. Look for a long, soft roll, and leave one side untouched when slicing it open. Once the cheesesteak is fully assembled, cut the roll in half crosswise before wrapping the sandwich in both parchment paper and foil to keep it both warm and fully intact.

3. Choose your cheese allegiance

A major bone of contention among cheesesteak enthusiasts is exactly what kind of delicious dairy should top off the sandwich. The most traditional selection is provolone, but other establishments go with white American. Since the processed cheese product Cheez Whiz came on the scene in 1952, it has also been a mainstay for a large contingent of aficionados.

You can achieve the best of both worlds by making your own cheese sauce, as in the recipe provided by Bobby Flay. Melt butter in a saucepan on medium heat before whisking in flour to cook for one minute. Add two cups of heated milk, whisking constantly as it cooks, until the mixture thickens. Take the saucepan off the heat, and throw in grated provolone and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Once the cheese is combined into the sauce, finish it off with salt and pepper.

Few foods inspire as much loyalty and passionate debate as a Philly cheesesteak. A culinary academy student should start by learning the time-honored basics of this dish before exploring exciting new toppings and cooking techniques.

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