Homemade Philly Cheesesteak. A near perfect version of this famous sandwich that you can make at home, on the closest thing to an authentic cheesesteak roll I’ve ever tried.
Everything you ever read about Philly cheesesteak sandwiches says that the only real cheesesteaks are to be found in Philadelphia itself. I’m not going to argue with that because I’ve only ever eaten one Philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia on my only visit to the city, at Campo’s Deli on Market Street and it was definitely the best I’ve had anywhere.
The simple preparation of the beef that fills the steaks is almost universally the same, as are the rolls which almost always come from Amoroso’s Bakery.
For me, the rolls are what make the sandwiches in Philadelphia great; they are simply perfect for the job at hand. Slightly crispy outside with a soft , airy, slightly chewy inside, they are sturdy enough to hold up to the robust filling while being light enough that you don’t feel like you’ve eaten a pound of bread.
I think they are the ideal carrier for practically any sub sandwich but I also had the thought that they’d be perfect for a big sloppy burger too. I’ll be featuring this roll recipe as burger buns soon as well.
A few points about this dough before you attempt to make it:
– Be careful not to add a lot of flour in the kneading process. You still want this to be a little bit of a sticky dough right through to the end stages. This ensures that the final inside texture of the roll is soft, with the gluten well developed, and not a denser texture with tight bubbles.
– Knead the dough by hand for 5 minutes, even after it comes out of the stand mixer, remembering to use as little flour as possible. Use the heel of your hand to stretch the dough across the kneading surface in a sort of smearing action, then fold the dough back over itself, turn it around and do the same again. Keep repeating this action for at least five minutes to develop good gluten in the dough.
– Never add the olive oil with the rest of the ingredients; this will inhibit production of gluten and form a less elastic dough. Add the oil only after the gluten strands have already begun to form within the dough. (Refer to recipe.)
For the filling in this sandwich, I like to use a hot, lightly oiled sauté pan that has a fitted cover (or at least a cover form another pot that will fit it). The lid comes in handy for melting the cheese quickly before transferring the meat and gooey cheese onto the roll.
The beef used in Philadelphia is commonly very thinly sliced rib eye. I’ve also used thinly sliced striploin as seen in the photo. The key is to get it as thin as you can cut it so that it quicks quickly n only a minute or two.
Some home recipes I’ve seen use cheaper cuts like sirloin or outside round. I’d say if that’s what you have, then try it. Thin slicing and quick cooking are more important than the cut of beef.
Caramelized onions and mushrooms or sautéed peppers often make their way onto a Philly Cheesesteak; feel free to add them if you like. American Cheese and even Cheese Whiz are preferred by many, but provolone is also traditional and it’s the easy melting cheese that I’ve always preferred on my homemade philly cheesesteak.
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- 1 envelope active dry yeast 7-8 grams or about 2 tsp, not instant yeast
- 4 tsp sugar
- 3 cups all purpose flour + a little more for kneading
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
- 2 tbsp olive oil plus a little more to brush on the rolls
- 2 lbs thinly sliced rib eye or striploin beef
- salt and pepper to season
- a little canola oil
- sliced provolone cheese
- A little Worcestershire sauce optional
In a small bowl or measuring cup, dissolve 1 tsp sugar in 1/3 cup of the lukewarm water
Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let stand for 10-15 minutes until the yeast activates and becomes foamy.
Meanwhile combine the flour, 3 tsp sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached.
Add the proofed yeast and the remaining 1 cup lukewarm water.
Mix on low speed until the dough has been kneaded for at least 5 minutes before adding the olive oil and letting it work its way into the dough.
Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured bread board or counter top.
Knead the dough by hand for at least 5 minutes after it comes out of the stand mixer, remembering to use as little flour as possible.
Use the heel of your hand to stretch the dough across the kneading surface in a sort of smearing action, then fold the dough back over itself, turn it around a half turn and and do the same again. Keep repeating this action for at least five to 10 minutes to develop good gluten in the dough. The dough should appear relatively smooth but still a little sticky to the touch.
Lightly oil a large bowl with olive oil, place the dough inside, cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place for at least an hour until the dough doubles in size.
Again on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough back into a ball and cut into 6 equal pieces.
Form the dough pieces into about 5 inch lengths and place them a couple of inches apart on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. You can dust the parchment with yellow cornmeal if you like but it shouldn't stick to the parchment paper in any case.
Very lightly brush the formed rolls with olive oil. Dust the tops with a little cornmeal too if you like.
Drape the cookie sheet loosely with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise in a warm place for at least another hour until they at least double in size. You con't want to rush the dough rising at this stage or else your rolls will be too dense.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. The oven MUST be fully preheated. Place a small tray of boiling water in the back corner of the oven. I use an aluminum pie plate. This causes humidity inside the oven, which helps the bread fully rise before forming a crust.
Using a very sharp knife or razor blade, quickly but gently cut a 1/4 inch deep slit down the centre line of the rolls before immediately popping the tray into the hot oven.
Bake for 10 minutes before reducing the heat to 400 degrees F and baking for an additional 20-25 minutes until the rolls are an even golden brown. They should sound hollow then tapped with your finger.
Let them cool on a wire rack before serving as fresh as possible with the cooked steak and cheese inside.
Slice the beef as thinly as possible and cut the thin slices into strips. Toss the strips with salt and pepper to season.
Heat a large sauté pan to very hot (a nonstick pan works well) and add just a little canola oil to the pan.
Throw half of the beef strips into the hot pan and quickly stir fry, just until the meat loses its red colour. In the final 20 seconds or so you can throw in a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce to add additional seasoning to the meat (optional).
In the pan, divide the beef into 2 portions and arrange it quickly into the approximate size and shape of your rolls. Place the cheese quickly on top of the two meat portions and add the lid of the sauté pan for about 15-20 seconds to melt the cheese.
Using a large metal spatula, transfer the meat and melting cheese portions onto a split sub roll. Top with caramelized onions, mushrooms pr peppers if you like. Serve immediately.
- Be careful not to add a lot of flour in the kneading process. You still want this to be a little bit of a sticky dough right through to the end stages. This ensures that the final inside texture of the roll is soft with the gluten well developed and not a denser texture with tight bubbles.
- Knead the dough by hand for 5 minutes, even after it comes out of the stand mixer, remembering to use as little flour as possible. Use the heel of your hand to stretch the dough across the kneading surface in a sort of smearing action, then fold the dough back over itself, turn it around and do the same again. Keep repeating this action for at least five minutes to develop good gluten in the dough.
- Never add the olive oil with the rest of the ingredients; this will inhibit production of gluten and form a less elastic dough. Add the oil only after the gluten strands have already begun to form within the dough. (Refer to recipe.)
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