A home-cooked meal in 20 minutes flat? Totally doable thanks to these authentic Philly Cheesesteaks! Ribeye flash grilled topped with caramelized onions and sharp provolone loaded into a toasted roll. Philly Cheesesteaks are the weeknight meal of your dreams.
After I was married, my parents moved right outside Philadelphia. (Truth be told, I moved a lot in my life but that's a story for another post.) Anyway to the men in the family, Philadelphia meant nothing—nothing but Philly cheesesteaks. And boy, have we eaten our fair share of em! From the famous duel between cross-corner Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's to those found in Reading Terminal or down The Main Line, we've eaten 'em. I'll leave it to you to decide which Philly cheesesteak is the best among them. We, of course, have eaten both Pat AND Geno's...at the same time. Well, because— when in Philly!
So— it was a matter of frugality that a homemade Philly cheesesteak was created. Because you can't fly to Philly every time you have a craving for them, especially now that Grandma and Papap have permanently headed south.
Le'ts dig in...because if you're not craving one right now, you will be after this post.
Homemade cheesesteak ground rules
- authentic - from the meat to the bread to what you're putting on top...if you're going to make a cheesesteak at home, it had better be as close to authentic as possible. Especially if you have any native Philadelphians around your table!
- easy - because easy is crucial when you've got a hungry crew to feed, especially if it's a weeknight or halftime of the big game.
- flexible - depending on how many were showing up for dinner any particular night.
- customizable - you like to order your Philly just the way YOU like it, right? This recipe makes it easy to offer the same to your guests! Score!
What Cut of beef for a Philly Cheesesteak?
There's probably lots of
arguments discussions online about the best meat for a classic Philly cheesesteak but I'm here to tell you as a transplant-by-association that ribeye is the only choice. Ribeye has the perfect amount of marbling which means a lot of flavor. It's also not too thick because slicing your meat thin is the key to a fast cook and tender bite.
Slicing ribeye super thin
The answer to this is in one word (ok, two): the freezer.
Before slicing, pop your ribeye in the freezer for about 30 minutes. That'll give you the perfect texture to slice the steak as thin as possible. And the meat won't stick to your knife which slows everything down. Because these sandwiches are prepared right before you plan to eat, you can't be slowed down.
You've got a hungry crew staring at you, dontchya?
After the freezing time is up, thinly slice each ribeye and make individual piles of meat on a cutting board. I typically can get four really nice sized 8" sandwiches out of three steaks.
Once all the steak has been cut, it's time to get one side seasoned before you start cooking.
how to season Philly cheesesteaks
Repeat after me: garlic. garlic. garlic. And you might want to sit down here because I'm gonna say something crazy. And this is one of the few times I'll say it...
You'll be using garlic powder instead of fresh. Yup, I said it.
Grab that jar of garlic powder (roasted— if you're extra like that) and shake, shake, shake a generous amount of garlic powder on each portion of steak —and then shake a bit more (the jar, not your behind). Because your ribeye and Philly Cheesesteak depend on it.
Also, make sure to season all the meat with a healthy sprinkle of salt (Redmond's Real Salt is one of absolute favs, btw) and ground black pepper.
time to cook
Heat a non-stick or well-seasoned griddle over high heat and then lower the heat to medium-high. You know your own stove. You're going to be searing the meat but then will need to melt the cheese and don't want to overcook the meat. It's ok — I've got you!
Oil the griddle and then using a flat spatula, place each portion of meat on your griddle, seasoned "side" down. Quickly season the other side of the meat with generous amounts of garlic powder, salt and pepper.
After about 2 minutes has passed, flip the meat a section at a time using your spatula. Quickly lay pieces of sharp provolone over top and cook for 2 more than two more minutes.
Turn off your burners. At this point, I will lay another pan or lid with a lip over the meat so that the cheese melts just right.
Of course, you can accessorize your Philly with all kinds of toppings:
- peppers: sweet or hot, red or green (red are my go-to), giardiniera
- onions: slice thinly and cook in a combo of half avocado or canola oil/half butter on low for 30 minutes or so until caramelized.
- mushrooms: saute in a little oil or butter over medium-high heat but don't allow to get too soft.
- red sauce or gravy
- optional toppings: lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise (which turn your cheesesteak into more of a hoagie— tomato, tomahto)
to cheese whiz or to not
Alright. Some of you might call "phony!"
That's because I'm not using Cheese Whiz, which actually makes a very authentic cheesesteak.
I have three reasons:
- Cheese Whiz isn't very Italian.
- Cheese Whiz is processed.
- Sharp cheese has more flavor.
If you prefer a cheese sauce, you certainly could make one using my bechamel recipe (it'll be a decadent bite of heaven!) but I also promised a FAST weeknight meal, right?
If Cheese Whiz is how you roll, then, by all means, go for it! Here's a little discussion about it in case you'd like more cheesy fodder.
Congrats, my friend! You're a PCSM (Philly CheeseSteak Master)!
For a crowd: Have all your prep work (ribeye sliced, rolls cut and vegetables prepped and cooked) done ahead of time. That way all you have to do is cook your meat and toast your buns while you chat with your guests, preferably holding a glass of your fav beverage.
For a few: Prep enough for twice the amount of sandwiches you need but only cook half of what you need. Then you'll have enough for another meal within the next two days.
- 3 ribeye steaks, approx 2-2 ½lbs total
- ½ lb sharp provolone, from the deli, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder, or more
- 2 tsp kosher salt, or more
- 1 ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 4 french rolls, toasted in the oven
- Place ribeye in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove ribeye from the freezer and using a sharp thin knife, slice the ribeye as thin as possible.
- Heat your oven to 400° and toast your rolls until you get the desired color.
- Meanwhile, separate meat into 4 equal "piles" on a cutting board.
- Liberally season the facing portions of meat with the garlic powder first and then the salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, heat a griddle over medium-high to high heat and drizzle with canola oil once heated.
- Using a spatula place the seasoned side of meat down on the griddle spreading it out to reflect the shape of the rolls you're using.
- While it cooks for 2 minutes, season the remaining side as noted above.
- Flip the meat over section by section.
- Lay the slices of provolone over each "steak" and cook for 2 minutes.
- Turn off the stove. Place another skillet or lid with a lip over the meat portions to create a little dome that helps melt the cheese. You might need two pans to do this.
- If you toasted your rolls, remove them from the oven and using a flat spatula, fill each roll with the cheesesteak mixture.
- Season again if needed and top with sauteed onions and mushrooms if desired.
- You certainly can use Cheeze Whiz or make your own cheese sauce using a bechamel recipe as a base.
- Serve with sauteed peppers, onions and mushrooms.