Friday, March 13, 2015

Philly Cheese Sloppy Joes

Philadelphia: The City of Brotherly love and the home of the Liberty Bell. It's also the home of the Philly cheesesteak sandwich.

In 2007, I tagged along to a national dietetics convention in Philadelphia with my favorite dietitian. While there, we went in search of one of those famous cheesesteaks. Back then, we weren't all taking photos of our food and sharing it on Facebook, so I don't have a photo. (Actually, I can't believe how few photos I took. Maybe it was back when I was foolishly deleting photos off memory cards and reusing them.)
It was in October and they added pink to the fountain for breast cancer awareness.
Anyway, when I saw a recipe for Philly Cheese Sloppy Joes on a friend's Facebook page, I decided I had to give it a try. The homemade sandwiches are certainly not authentic, but they are pretty tasty. VisitPhilly gives this history of the city's most famous sandwich:
The cheesesteak made its official debut in 1930. Pat Olivieri was a South Philadelphia hot dog vendor who one day decided to put some beef from the butcher on his grill. A taxicab driver noticed the alluring aroma and asked for his own steak sandwich. 

The next day, as the story goes, rumor of the delicious lunch had spread, and cabbies around the city came to Olivieri demanding steak sandwiches. Soon after, Olivieri opened up a shop on 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue, Pat’s King of Steaks, to sell his new creation. Eventually, according to legend, he added cheese to the recipe. 

Today, Pat’s grills are sizzling 24 hours a day, as are Geno’s, the rival shop across the street. For 40 years, the two shops have waged a friendly competition to win the title of best cheesesteak in town, with Geno’s founder, Joe Vento, claiming it was he, not Olivieri, who first added cheese to the cheesesteak.
If I remember correctly, Jill and I opted for a Geno's sandwich. I am pretty sure that Randy and I will opt for this easy and tasty facsimile again and again. And it won't even require a trip to Philly.
Philly Cheese Sloppy Joes
Modified from a friend's Facebook post
1 lb. ground beef
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 sweet peppers, thinly sliced (any color - red, yellow, orange, green or combo)
1/4 cup steak sauce (like A1)
1 cup beef broth
Provolone cheese slices (8-12, depending on number of sandwiches)
Buns (4-6, depending on size)

Cook onion and pepper slices in a large skillet until tender, adding a little water to keep from burning, if necessary.  In a separate skillet, brown ground beef; drain fat. Return to skillet. Add beef broth and steak sauce; leave uncovered and simmer until the beef mixture is thickened.

To assemble sandwiches:

Toast a bun in the toaster or under the broiler. (I used a pretzel bun, but you can use a hoagie or just regular hamburger buns.) Put the toasted bottom half of the bun on a cookie sheet. Top with a slice of cheese, then top with hamburger mixture and onion/pepper mixture. Top with another slice of cheese. Place under the broiler until cheese on top is melted and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Carefully move the hot sandwich to a serving plate and top with the other bun half. Serve immediately.

Notes:  The original recipe called for chopping both the onions and the peppers and cooking them with the hamburger. However, I thought the sandwiches were more like Philly cheesesteaks with the onion and pepper slices. It depends on the sandwich shop as to whether the onions and peppers are served chopped or thinly sliced.

This recipe makes 4 large sandwiches or 6 sandwiches if you use regular hamburger buns instead. You can just assemble as many sandwiches as you need and keep the meat and veggies refrigerated for leftovers.

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