For much of my life I have been near the Philadelphia area. I was born about 30 minutes west of Philly, when I was very young my family had moved to western Pennsylvania but my grandparents still lived around the Philly area. In high school I lived in Wilmington Delaware (again about 30 minutes from Philly) and I went to college in West Chester PA. So in all that time I went to Philadelphia quite a bit, and yes I ate a lot of cheesesteaks. I have had both of the two most famous Philly Cheesesteaks, Pat’s and Geno’s, as I am sure you are aware both have been featured multiple times on TV on FOOD NETWORK. While there is always a big debate over which is best I personally think both are outstanding.
There is a sort of etiquette to ordering a cheesesteak. NEVER ask for a cheesesteak hoagie. That will most likely get you strange looks from the person behind the counter, at best it will get you a cheeseteak with lettuce and tomato.
Wit or Witout (with or without), this refers to onions. And last but not least the type of cheese, American, Provolone or the processed favorite Cheeze Whiz. As former Presidential candidate John Kerry learned don’t ask for Swiss. So for example to order a cheesesteak with Cheeze Whiz and onions you would ask for a “whiz wit” “provolone witout” will get you a provolone cheesesteak without onions. Now say you don’t want any type of cheese (as I did when I was a picky eater as a kid) you would just ask for a steak wit or witout.
For this post I am going to show you how I make a cheesesteak at home. A few years ago on a trip to South Street in Philly I stopped in at Pat’s and because they where not overly busy I had the chance to talk to one of the people manning the grill (while he was taking a break) and he gave me a few hint on making a true Philly Cheesesteak.
One of the most important tips was the type of meat to use. And surprise surprise it is my favorite steak, Ribeye. Thinly slice Ribeye is the beef of choice for Philly cheesesteak. He also told me that cooking the steak and onions in the same vessel is crucial because you want the “onion juice” as he called it to cook into the steak.
Now it can be a little hard to slice a ribeye thinly so I like to put mine in the freezer for about an hour before I cook it just long enough to make it firm not frozen. You also want the onions sliced super thin. I mean you want them so thin they only have one side. I recommend using a mandoline for the onions. If you don’t have a mandoline just get them as thin as you can.
In a cast iron skillet over medium high heat add 2 tablespoons of veg oil and when the oil begins to shimmer add the onions. As the onions are sauteing make sure you season them with salt and pepper. Stirring occasionally.
As the onions are cooking it is a good time to remove the steak from the freezer and slice thin with a sharp knife.
Once the onions are a nice translucent gold remove them from the skillet and place in a bowl, use tongs to keep the “onion juice” in the skillet. Return the skillet to medium high heat and add the sliced ribeye.
Season with salt and pepper, for an extra kick you can add some steak seasoning, add a couple dashes of Worcestershire Sauce. While I love my steaks done to a medium doneness for the cheesesteak you want to make sure you get all of the pink out of the sliced steak.
Once the steak is cooked return the onions to the skillet and remove from the heat. Stir the steak and onions together. Place heaping amounts of steak and onions to a sliced steak roll. Cover the steak with two or three slices of provolone in an open-faced manner and place into a broiler to melt the cheese and slightly toast the edges of the roll.
Plate the cheesesteaks up with some type of potato. We had some potato crowns on hand that I did in the air fryer, but tots or fries work just as well. Onion rings are also a good side with this.
These are a great substitute for a Philly Cheesesteak when you can’t get to South Street.
- 1 large ribeye
- 2 large onions
- 2 tablespoons veg oil
- provolone slices
- 4 soft steak rolls
- salt and pepper to taste
- place ribeye in the freezer for about an hour just long enough to get firm not frozen
- Slice onions as thin as possible
- in a skillet over medium high heat add 2 tablespoons veg oil
- once oil begins to shimmer add the onions to the skillet season with salt and pepper stirring occassionally
- as onions are cooking it is time to slice the steak thinly against the grain
- when the onions are translucent golden remove them from the skillet and place them in a bowl off to the side
- add sliced ribeye to skillet season with salt and pepper (for an extra kick add a little steak seasoning)
- add a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce
- cook steak until all pink is gone
- return onions to the skillet and combine with the steak
- load sliced steak roll with the sauteed beef and onions
- cover with 2-3 slices of provolone
- place in your oven on broil to melt the cheese and lightly toast the roll
- remove from the broiler plate with fries, tots or onion rings