On a visit to a cousin’s house where Speedy and I were wined (with great Brie cheese) and dined (risotto, grilled fish and grilled lamb chops) to our hearts’ delight, there was a discussion about cheesesteak sandwich. Cheesesteak, of course, is steak and cheese between slices of bread, a sandwich that originated in Philadelphia. Often, it is also known as Philly cheesesteak.
My cousin-in-law (who is a great cook, by the way) said the steaks are grilled then chopped to make the base of the sandwich filling. I disagreed. I said the beef has to be thinly sliced then grilled or pan fried. I’m sure that there are more versions of cheesesteak as there are cooks that make the sandwich, this is the recipe that works for me and my family.
I had to special order the beef for these sandwiches as I wanted to make sure that the beef would be of the best quality — tender and not fibrous at all. I went to the grocery, ordered half a kilo of ribeye and had the meat sliced thinly — just a little bit thicker than sukiyaki cut. The result was wonderful. The meat was tender and moist after a few minutes on the pan.
For the cheese, I used sliced sandwich American cheese. You can use some other mild cheese (sharp tasting cheese tends to overpower the natural flavor of the beef) but I really suggest that you use very thin slices so that the beef does not overcook while you wait for the cheese to melt (a Food Network tip).
- Cut the french baguette into three to four equal portions. Split each piece in half vertically.
- Divide the beef slices into three to four portions.
- Take a portion and fold each slice in half. Arrange the folded beef in a row, slightly overlapping one another to form a rather flat-looking log.
- Repeat with the remaining portions.
- Sprinkle each “log” with salt and pepper.
- Heat the grill and skillet (or frying pan).
- Melt the butter in the skillet (or frying pan) and remember that you’re cooking steaks so the temperature should be very, very high to sear the meat.
- Carefully move the beef “logs” to the skillet or pan. Arrange them side by side with about two inches of space between them to make flipping easier.
- On the grill, arrange the bread, cut side down.
- After about two minutes, partially lift one end of a beef “log”. If the underside is nicely charred, flip it over. This is a little tricky as you’re handling overlapping slices of meat. A spatula does the job well.
- Do the same with the others.
- Meanwhile, flip over the bread on the grill.
- Top each beef “log” with slices of cheese. Cook for another minute. If the timing and cooking temperature are just right, the cheese should melt at the same time that the beef gets done.
- Place the bread on plates.
- Spread mayo on the bottom halves.
- Cover the bottom halves with onion rings.
- Using a spatula, transfer the cooked beef and cheese filling to the bread, arranging them on top of the onion slices.
- Serve the cheesesteak sandwiches while hot.