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Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich

In New Orleans, the poor boy is the king of the sliced beef sandwiches. Nevertheless, at various times some hopeful restaurateur, exiled here from the Northeast, will attempt to offer a Philadelphia-style cheese steak sandwich here. It’s shaped like and otherwise resembles a roast beef poor boy, but the flavor is completely different.

Talk with anyone from Philly, and you learn that the formula for making one of these sandwiches is set in stone, and any variation leads to perdition. Given that one of the standard ingredients for Philly cheese steak is Cheez-Whiz right out of the jar, and that every cheese steak I’ve had up there is different from all the others, I don’t hesitate to make my own adjustments. The main one involves using rare deli roast beef instead of sliced raw round (supermarkets don’t like to slice raw beef, and you need a meat slicer to get it thin enough). We are stuck with using French bread instead of the special Italian loaves they have in Philly, but that’s no great loss. Finally, of course, the Cheez-Whiz has to go, in favor of provolone.

PhillyCheeseSteakSandwich

  • 1 tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced as thin as you can
  • 1/2 green or red bell pepper, seeds and membrane removed, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp. Creole seasoning (or salt and pepper)
  • 1/2 lb. rare deli roast beef, sliced thin
  • 1/2 loaf poor boy bread or French baguettes
  • 6 medium slices provolone cheese
  • Creole mustard

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

1. Heat a griddle over medium-high heat long enough to get it good and hot. With a metal spatula, spread the oil around on the hot surface. Scatter the onions and bell peppers on the griddle. Sprinkle with Creole seasoning.

2. Cook the onions and bell peppers until they’re soft and lightly browned here and there. Move them off to the cool side of the griddle.

3. Spread the slices of beef out over the hot part of the griddle. Using a second metal spatula, hold the beef down while using the other spatula to scrape across the beef, causing it to shred away. Cook until all the pink is gone from the meat.

4. Lower the heat to almost nothing. Bring the onions and peppers back to the hot part of the griddle, spread it out, and deposit the beef on top of it. Cover the whole pile with the slices of provolone cheese. Leave it there until it softens, but not until it melts.

5. While waiting for that, slice the bread from end to end and put it into the oven.

6. Spread a very little bit of Creole mustard over one side of the bread. Moved the cheese, meat, peppers and onions onto the bread, and cover with the other half. Serve immediately.

Serves two to four.

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  1. Glen Gourgues on December 30, 2015

    Tom:
    I’m a born and raised New Orleanian and I have to confess … I LOVE BOTH!
    Both, as in Roast Beef Poboys AND Philly Cheesesteaks. My wife of 30+ years is from just outside of Philadelphia. I’ve eaten way more than my share when up there! (My favorite is from a place just down the street from Villanova called Kelly’s. Fred’s on State Road is great, too.)

    But here’s my observations:
    1 – the REAL DEAL bread is called Amoroso Rolls – made in 300 year old ovens, etc, etc. Yes, it is good and hard to duplicate. Binder’s Little Frenchies are our only not-so-close comparison. Some pistolettes would work well, too. Amoroso rolls have a slightly gritty texture to them – I have no idea why? But they are very good and very tasty.
    2- the real Philly steak meat has to be on the salty side! They will say adding creole seasonings to it is a moral sin but I do! And a few dashes of Tabasco, too.
    3- Cheez-Wiz is for tourist! (Sort of like telling somebody our favorite drink is a Hurricane.) Really good cheese steaks are made with thin sliced white American cheese – STOP! End of discussion!
    4- There is a place in town on Feret Street called Liberty Cheese Steaks — they make the real deal stuff! The young man who owns it (Tulane grad) imports the bread and the meat. He has saved me thousands of dollars becuz my wife knows she can now get her favorite Cheese Steak (“Wit’ out!”) in town and we don’t have to jump a plane and visit relatives to do it.

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