I developed this recipe for Philly Homegrown’s Cheesesteak Give-away tomorrow, August 25th at the Mayor’s LOVE Park Farmers’ Market beginning at 11 AM.
What could be more homegrown in Philadelphia than a Philly Cheesesteak? What about a Philly cheesesteak in which all the ingredients come from farms within 100 miles of the City of Brotherly Love on an Italian roll from Sarcone’s? Best yet, with this recipe you can enjoy your Homegrown Cheesesteak…at home.
The Philly Homegrown Cheesesteak Give-away is part of Philly Homegrown, a consumer education and tourism marketing program launched this summer to introduce the people, places and flavors of the area’s foodshed—from Amish Country to the Atlantic Ocean and from the region’s rivers to the rich farmlands in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. I’ll be there with my Frog Commissary crew. We will give-away 1000 mini-Homegrown Cheesesteaks.
To learn more about Philly Homegrown and the event, go to food.visitphilly.com
Philly Homegrown Cheesesteaks will also be available at Ben’s Bistro at The Franklin Institute from Thursday, August 26th through Sunday, August 29th. Ben’s Bistro is open to the public without admission.
Philly Homegrown Cheesesteak with Farm Stand Sweet & Hot Peppers
Do ahead Onions and peppers may be cooked up to two days ahead. Reheat before serving. Bread should be bought the day you are using it.
8 ounces assorted farm stand sweet and hot peppers, stems and seeds removed
2 cups large dice sweet Pennsylvania onion
6 ounces mild, semi-soft cheese such as Pennsylvania Colby, grated
1 1/2 pounds grass-fed Pennsylvania rib eye steak* or chip steak
1 Sarcone’s large Italian bread loaf or similar 22-24″ loaf, ends trimmed and cut into 1/3’s or 1/4’s**
3 ounces oil
4 ounces water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
* If using rib eye steak, place in freezer for 2-3 hours until partially frozen. With sharp knife, shave thin slices.
** You may substitute 4 standard 6-inch steak rolls
1. Split each piece of bread in half lengthwise, but keep two halves connected. Pull out a little of spongy part of bread creating a cavity.
2. Cut peppers into long, thin strips.
3. In a large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over low-moderate heat. Add peppers. Saute until peppers start to soften. Add 2 ounces water and steam peppers until water evaporates. Repeat with 2 ounces additional water. You want to fully soften peppers without browning them. This will take about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. In same pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat over moderate heat. Add onions and cook until translucent without browning. Remove from heat and set aside.
5. In same pan, add 1 tablespoon oil and heat. Add beef. Using a flat spatula, toss and chop apart beef as it cooks. When beef is fully cooked, add onions, salt and pepper and mix into beef. Add cheese on top of beef and melt. Place open rolls on top to lightly heat and refresh. Using tongs or slotted spoon, scrape meat onto rolls taking care to leave behind any liquid in pan.
6. Top with peppers and serve hot.
You will need a mix of farm stand sweet and hot peppers, onion, meat, cheese, bread and oil. From mid-summer on, farm stands are bursting with all manner of sweet and hot peppers. Depending on your preference, you should have about four times times sweet peppers to hot. Here are long hots and banana peppers along with red and green bell peppers. These hot peppers are hot, but not searingly so.
Cut tops from peppers and split in half. Be careful handling the interiors of hot peppers — seeds and membrane — as the volatile acids that provide the pepper’s heat can come off on to your fingers. Either wear gloves, put a piece of plastic wrap between the pepper’s interior and your fingers or just take care not to touch any soft membranes like your lips, nose or eyes until you thoroughly wash your hands after handling the peppers. Your fingers themselves will not be troubled. Soap, water and time will “cure” any pepper burning. It’s not dangerous, just uncomfortable.
Using your fingers and a sharp paring knife, remove seeds and cut away white membrane of peppers. Discard seeds and membranes. Cut peppers into long thin strips.
The cheese should be mild and semi-soft — suitable for grating. I used an organic Meadow Run Colby. Grate cheese using a box grater or something similar. In a “worst case,” just slice cheese thinly.
You can use chip steak. However, here I used a piece of rib-eye steak. Premium cheesesteaks start with a rib-eye steak, typically sliced on a commercial slicer — something unlikely to be included among your home kitchen equipment. But you can still use a whole piece of rib-eye. Place the beef in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours so that it is partially frozen, but not rock hard.
With a sharp knife, cut slices as thin as you can. Your goal is to “shave” the beef so that you have “paper-thin” slices. Your slices will not be paper-thin, but do the best you can.
I used a long Italian loaf from South Philly’s Sarcone’s Bakery on 9th Street between Catherine & Fitzwater. DiBruno’s also carries Sarcone’s bread. You can certainly use individual steak rolls.
If using a long loaf, begin by trimming away the rounded ends. Regardless of what sort of roll you are using, pull out and remove some of the doughy bread. This just makes for a less doughy and more enjoyable sandwich. You can cut your long loaf into three or four smaller pieces. Later I will recommend cutting sandwiches into 2″ wide pieces for easier handling so three or four pieces is not critical.
Also, chop your onion into pieces about half to quarter-inch in size. Here’s a video on How to Chop and Onion.
Now you’re ready to cook your Homegrown Philly Cheesesteak with Farm Stand Sweet & Hot Peppers.
Assemble your ingredients next to your stove.
Begin by sauteing your onions in a large saute pan in oil — I used olive oil. You should only need about 1 tablespoon oil.
Cook until onions are soft and translucent but not browned. This should take six to eight minutes. If onions begin to brown, reduce heat and/or add a touch of water. The water will stop the browning and help the onions soften. You will want to evaporate the water. Remove cooked onions and set aside.
Next, in the same pan, cook peppers over low-moderate heat in a tablespoon of oil. Peppers will take longer to cook than onions – about 15-20 minutes. . You want them to be very soft, but not browned or falling apart.
Again, adding a few ounces of water, once the peppers start to soften, is helpful to softening the peppers. Here I added 2 ounces of water two times, each time allowing the water to fully evaporate. You want sautéed peppers and not boiled peppers. Lightly salt peppers, remove from pan and set aside. The peppers should be warm, but they are a topping and do not have to be hot.
If you do not have a large saute pan, cook the steak in two batches. Hold your first batch in a 200 degree oven while cooking second batch. I used a 13″ pan. Begin by adding 2 tablespoons oil to pan over high heat. Allow oil to get very hot — nearly smoking. Carefully add shaved beef. Allow bottom to brown.
With a broad, flat spatula, turn beef and using “blade” of spatula, chop and cut up beef into small pieces.
When beef is fully browned, add cooked onions and mix in well. Cheesesteak places cook their meat on a flat griddle that allows the rendered liquid to flow away. When cooking in a pan, the liquid will evaporate somewhat, but you will still have some liquid to contend with.
Add cheese on top and allow to melt. Season with salt and pepper.
While cheese is melting, place bread lightly on top to enable steam from cooking beef to re-fresh bread. I cut the long loaf into three very generous sandwiches, but you can easily cut it into four.
Using slotted spoon or spring tongs, transfer beef, onion, cheese mix into rolls. Take care in doing this as it’s very hot. Top with farm stand sweet and hot peppers. In serving, I recommend cutting sandwiches into more manageable smaller pieces — two inches or so in length.
For lots of recipes and to view visits to area farm stands or Philadelphia Neighborhood Farmers’ Markets, go to athomebysteveposes.wordpress.com.
For more information about Philly Homegrown, visit food.visitphilly.com.
To learn more about local farmers’ markets, visit The Food Trust and Farm to City. Year ’round you can purchase local food products at Fair Food Farmstand at the Reading Terminal Market.