Philly Cheese Steak

I have never been to Pennsylvania to have a cheese steak, so I cannot comment on how good they are. I have had the IHOP style of cheese steak sandwich and I have to admit it is very good.

Not being one to eat out on a regular basis I decided to see if I could duplicate the IHOP sandwich.

I started off by baking some bread. I needed a couple of fairly soft rolls formed into submarine sandwich buns. The trick to making them soft is to bake them at high heat (400 degrees F) for a short amount of time. Just long enough to get them done. Stick them with a toothpick or fork to check doneness. If the toothpick or fork comes out without dough sticking to it, the baking is done. Also, I found that using two packets of yeast makes for a lighter dough. More bubbles in the mixture and it rises faster and farther. Use a couple of tablespoons of sugar when blooming the yeast in warm water. Let it bloom until it has a well established head before adding flour. The sugar allows the yeast to make alcohol and adds flavor to the bread.

Once cool, split the bun lengthwise and dig out shallow troughs in both halves. Butter both halves and broil them in the oven, buttered side up to get just barely toasty. I like to use a mixture of olive oil and roasted garlic instead of butter. The roasted garlic is homemade, and mashed to a paste before it is mixed with the oil. I like lots of roasted garlic. Your tastes might differ.

Keep an eye on the toasting buns. You want them just barely toasted. Golden brown is too dark. We are looking for a golden yellow.

Now sautee some onion in a skillet. The sandwich is just fine without the onion but if you like onion this is how to do it. Sautee in butter or oil until the onion is soft. We are not making onion rings here. Just soften so they won’t fall out of the sandwich. Onion cut into rings is fine. I like white onion but red onion works fine too. Pile the onion into both troughs in both halves of the bun but leave enough room for the steak.

You don’t need to use steak to make this sandwich. Good quality roasting meat will also work. Once the meat is roasted to your liking, cut it into thin strips (like you might get on an Arby’s sandwich) and pile it onto the bun. The thinner you can cut the meat, the lesser quality of meat you can use, while still making it edible. Brisket is a little greasy, but flank steak and roast work well. Of course there is nothing preventing you from using real steak.

Now pile the meat into both troughs of both halves of one bun. Use at least enough to fill the troughs. It does not have to look like an overstuffed Quiznos as shown on the TV ad.

Slice some swiss cheese into strips that are as wide as the bun. Lay these strips onto the meat on one of the bun halves. A single layer of cheese is fine. Use more if you like cheese or are shy on the meat.

Put the two bun halves together, put on a microwave safe plate, and set it in a microwave. Microwave on high for about one minute. Maybe less. We do not want to toast the cheese or have it melt to the point of running down the sides. We just want the cheese to melt and glue the two bun halves together.

Steak sauce can be added as a side. This sandwich is consumed with knife and fork as though it were a real steak. You may find it is too good to doctor with steak sauce.

The IHOP version I had came with a side of home fried potatoes. You can make home fried potatoes very easily at home. Cut a large (or small) potato into strips about one-quarter inch thick, one inch wide and three inches long. cover the bottom of a baking pan with a thin layer of oil (cannola or olive) and add the potato strips. Move the strips around so each has a full coating of oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are half way cooked. Leave the oven at 350 but shift it to broil and let the potatoes cook for another 15 minutes or until they turn a light golden brown. No need to turn them over to broil the bottom side. They will be sufficiently brown all over if they are done. These are not french fries, so don’t try to turn them into fries. Light golden brown is fine. If they end up crunchy, they are overcooked. Remove from oven and lightly salt.

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