Kitchen at the End of the Universe: Philly Cheesesteak

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Noble Savage (he said):

(Yes, the spelling is of Cheesesteak is correct BTW)

Everyone loves a good steak sandwich. Well, probably not vegetarians. Or vegans. Anyway, arguably the best-known steak sandwich of all is the Philly Cheesesteak.

The history of this sandwich is a bit contested, but it seems most likely that it was invented by Pat Olivieri in Philadelphia (duh!) in the 1930’s. Apparently Pat had his own hot dog stall, and one day he ran out of dogs just before his normal afternoon rush. The nearby butcher only had thinly sliced steaks available, and, out of desperation, Pat decided to give it a try. He fried some onions with the steaks, and topped it with cheese. He served it to the cab drivers coming off their shift, and it was such a hit, that the next day the cabbies stood in lines around the block for Pat’s sandwich. And the Philly Cheesesteak was born.

Most of the recipes you’ll find online calls for either deli roast beef, or for very thinly sliced steak strips fried in a pan (tip: put your steak in a freezer for about 30 minutes, and it’ll be easier to slice thinly). I wasn’t exactly in the mood for pan frying, and had a hankering for a braai. So I decided on:

 Rump steak (I got mine from Kings Meat, matured for 6 weeks – AMAZING!)

 Salt & pepper to taste

 Cheese (I used Emmental, but Provolone is more traditional)

 Ciabatta rolls (or whatever bread you prefer)

 2 medium onions

 1 bottle beer

 1 green pepper

 Some olive oil

I’ll advise to start with the onions, as this will take the longest. Cut them the way you like, and fry them in some oil until soft. Then add the bottle of beer. I used Devil’s Peak King’s Blockhouse IPA. This was a mistake. Really, you could use any of the brown-bottle shit SAB sells, and rather keep the good stuff for yourself.


Let it simmer gently until the beer is reduced – this takes about 20 minutes. While this is going on, cut your green pepper into rings, and fry until soft.



When it comes to the steak, I found less is more in this case. The steak is part of an ensemble, and should not overpower anything. Plus, the quality of this butcher’s meat is excellent, so it doesn’t need to be covered up by other flavours. Stick to salt and pepper, medium to rare, and let it rest for about 5 minutes.


Time to assemble your sandwich! You can really do it any-which-way you want, but keep the cheese on top. And toast your rolls – this is such a simple thing that many restaurants neglect. Seriously, just toast the fucking things! After assembly, pop it under a grill for a minute or so, just to let the cheese melt a bit.



And there you have it! This simple sandwich is fairly quick and very easy to make, and goes down well with a nice IPA. Perfect for a laid-back lunch



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