South of Philly Cheesesteak

To a native Philadelphian, a cheesesteak simply can’t be considered authentic if it’s prepared more than an hour from the city. However, I couldn’t resist the challenge posed to me by a fan of Evansville Living’s Facebook page: Create a cheesesteak that looks and tastes like the real deal.

Although Evansville is far from Philly, I tapped a few of my favorite local sources for quality ingredients. I experimented with two different cuts of steak: a tender ribeye from Rivertown Butcher Shop (7766 Fruitwood Lane, Newburgh) and a flank steak from Stonewall Farms (10540 Schissler Road). As tradition dictates, the best cheesesteak is served on an Italian roll. Thank goodness for Vecchio’s Italian Market (14 W. Jennings St., Newburgh).

Philly Cheesesteak Recipe

Ingredients (for two sandwiches):
•  1 pound flank steak or ribeye
•  1 tablespoon minced garlic
•  Kosher salt
•  Fresh cracked black pepper
•  1/2 pound baby bella mushrooms, sliced
•  1 bell pepper, sliced thin (green is traditional, I prefer red or yellow)
•  1/2 yellow onion, sliced thin
•  6-8 slices Provolone cheese
•  2 8-inch Italian loaves
•  Extra virgin olive oil
•  Mayo or mustard (optional)

Freeze the steak in advance. This is the most important step, as it allows the steak to be sliced paper thin and stay tender when fully cooked.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sauté the bell pepper slices, garlic, and olive oil in a hot skillet for approximately 2 minutes. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the thinly sliced steak and cook until steak is fully browned, approximately 3-5 minutes. While cooking the vegetables and steak, toast bread in the oven for about 5 minutes.

Place half of the veggie/steak mixture on each toasted loaf and cover with Provolone cheese. Place sandwiches in the oven to finish. Once the cheese is melted, they’re ready to eat.

(Variations: Many Philadelphians swear by Cheez Whiz, but I prefer the less-processed Provolone. For a pizza steak, add 1 ounce of your favorite pizza sauce before topping with cheese.)

— Eli Haddix of Evansville has worked in the restaurant business for 12 years.

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