The Big Idea: I’ve been making all of these classic, two part meals – steak and side – and I’ve really been enjoying it, but some part of me clearly wanted to get back something a little less refined. Hence the idea here: Philly Cheesesteak. The best dish for me to refine my steak cooking technique? No. Awesome, gooey comfort food, and an excellent use of sirloin? Yes.
Much debate exists on exactly what makes a Philly Cheesesteak. (In fact, I once sat through a mind-numbingly terrible fifteen minute film on the subject during a shorts program.) There are hundreds of recipes on the internet, at I’ll let you google them yourself. Some suggest Cheeze-Wiz, others provalone, others have their own complex cheese sauces. Some swear by mushrooms, others say onions and peppers only. There are a range of basic seasonings – various sauces and spices appear in the recipes.
I went for simple, and so as not to offend any Philly purists, I’ll just call it a Portland Cheesesteak from here on out. Thinly sliced sirloin, salt, pepper, onions, mushrooms, and a hefty topping of jack cheese.
The Execution: The steak, side, and sauce were all one in this dish. Here’s what I did: I dried my steak (with the paper towels I bought after steak 11!) and sliced it as thinly as I could, then topped it with some salt and pepper and let it sit.
Meanwhile, I got two small onions and three bell peppers (one green, one orange, and one red) going in some coconut oil in a big pan over medium-high heat. I followed through on my previous suggestion to myself here to be my own prep cook and actually chopped these yesterday, while I was chopping a bunch of other stuff for chili. It was nice to just be able to throw them in the pan – I should do that more often.
I let them cook for a good long while, ’til they took up a lot less room, the onions were a little bit caramelized and the peppers were nice and soft. When they were almost ready, I cooked up my sirloin slices in a separate cast iron pan. ‘When they were all browned, I mixed in the peppers and onions and topped it with some thinly sliced jack cheese. I say “some” cheese, but let’s be clear: it was probably two ounces, based on the size of the block of cheese I had and the portion that was left when I finished. That’s a 5:1 steak:cheese ratio by weight.
By this point, my anemic broiler had been pre-heating for about 20 minutes, so was approaching lukewarm, and ready to finish off the dish. I stuck it under the broiler for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese and make sure the veggies were extra soft, and voila! Portland Cheesesteak.
The Verdict: Oh man, this was good. Gooey, deliciously, rib-sticking good. I don’t know what those recipes that use seasonings, or suggest making a special sauce are shooting for, because the sauce that naturally formed out of melted cheese, steak juice, pepper-onion juice, and salt and pepper, was pretty amazing. A very different experience than any of my other steaks, but a good one. And for the record, with plenty of veggies and the 5:1 steak:cheese ratio, this produces two servings, even for an appetite like mine.
Notes for Next Time:
- An excellent and valid use of steak, and an excellent comfort food.
- There are probably other good ways to cook sirloin! I’m still happy to be perfecting the “steak” aspect, but this is a good thought for the future.
- Of course, not just any stir-fry justifies slicing up what could otherwise be a juicy steak. Any suggestions?