The All-American Philly Cheesesteak! Named for the city of its origin, this sandwich was invented in the city of Philadelphia by Pat and Harry Olivieri in the 1930’s. They ran a modest hot dog stand in south Philadelphia near the famous Italian Market. Tired of hot dogs for lunch, one day Pat decided he wanted to try something different. He sent for some chopped steak, cooked it on his hot dog grill, threw it on a hoagie roll and topped it with some onions. Just as he was about to eat it a customer, a cab driver, asked what he was eating. Pat explained that it was his lunch. The cabbie insisted Pat make him one as well. According to Pat the cabbie took one bite and said, “Hey…forget ’bout those hot dogs. You should sell these!” And so the steak sandwich was born.
Originally, the Philly Cheeseteak was made with just the steak and onions, but gradually Pat added cheese. Later variations also included vegetables such as bell peppers and mushrooms. The new sandwich became such a hit that it enabled Pat to open up a restaurant of his own where he entertained such celebrities as The Three Stooges, Tony Bennett, Humphrey Bogart, and several U.S. presidents. Pat’s King of Steaks is still in operation today and is practically a city landmark.
Another iconic destination for Philly Cheesesteaks is Geno’s. The two places are right across from each other. The direct competition is interesting but both manage to continually pack a crowd.
I love rolls that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Particularly when they’re filled with savory, tender slices of steak, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and oozing with cheese. Imagine biting through all of those layers… Now grab those ingredients and make your own Philly Cheesesteaks right at home! And, if you like, eat them while watching “Rocky,” another Philly original.
- 1 pound beef round steak, cut into thin strips
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 tbs cooking oil
- 1 yellow onion, cut in half and then sliced thinly
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced
- ½ pound fresh button mushrooms, gently brushed clean and sliced
- 8 slices Provolone or Swiss cheese
- 4 crusty hoagie rolls (use gluten free if needed)
- Season the beef strips with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Heat the oil in a medium skillet on medium-high heat and sauté the beef strips on both sides until done, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer the beef strips to a plate and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.
- Add the onion and bell peppers to the pan, season with salt and pepper and an extra pinch of garlic powder and onion powder. Sauté until crisp tender, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to plate.
- Add the mushrooms (add some oil if needed), season with salt and pepper, and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes.
- Spread each side of the hoagie rolls with some mayonnaise. Layer the beef on bottom halves, and top with onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Lay two slices of cheese on top of each hoagie. Place the top of the hoagie rolls on top. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and heat the Philly Cheese Steaks just until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.
- Serve while warm.
We lived in the Philadelphia area for many years and I’m familiar with all the variations of the classic Philly cheese steak. We always made these on the griddle in the center of our stove, and made each of the ingredients on a separate part of the griddle, combining them when them were all done (still on the griddle) then topping with cheese and putting a lid over it VERY briefly to let the cheese melt. Even more important though: you can’t make a real Philly cheese steak without the classic Amoroso hoagie roll. We’ve lived all over the country and never found a roll that was just like these. Most err by being too much like a hot dog roll, not having the chewy interior that you need for the right consistency and to support all the ingredients. Others are too much like a baguette, too hard and – again – without that chewy, doughy interior. Luckily for those of us in exile from the Philly area, you can get Amoroso rolls on Amazon.
Don’t forget Geno’s across the street from Pat’s in Philly. Both are always packed and serve outstanding steaks. These days a “real” Philly steak is made with cheese wiz but the recipe above sounds delicious.
I love your stories that accompany your fantastic recipes.I have tried several of your recipes and find them easy to follow and taste delicious.
The Daring Gourmet says
Amy, thank you so much! Feedback is something I always welcome (good or bad), and if you get the chance, I’d love for you to leave some feedback on the recipe posts that you’ve tried. Thanks again for the compliment – so happy to have you on board! :)
I’m so hungry now! :-) Thank you for the interesting and lovely story.