Cheesesteaks & Cheez Whiz an evolution.
Welcome cheesy readers to this bloggy geyser of cheesesteaks. Who doesn’t love to tear into Philly cheesesteaks? Seasoned, thinly sliced, fatty, steak with cheese on an Amoroso roll, what’s not to like?
It’s possible there’s a bistro somewhere turning out local, artisanal, organic, rolls for cheesesteaks from a 16 year old familial sourdough starter that is better. But on a large commercial level you can’t get much better than Amoroso buns for cheesesteaks. They’re the industry standard. Like poppy seed buns for Chicago dogs… tradition. http://www.amorosobaking.com/products/bakery
Did that sound like I get paid? Ha! I wish. I’m not for sale. Um, that is unless you’re buying?
The controversies surrounding cheesesteaks are numerous. Pat’s or Geno’s? Sliced steak or shredded? With mushrooms or onions? Why would anyone call Dinic’s broccoli raab, pork and provolone tragedy a good sandwich? http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/the-insider/DiNics-roast-pork-named.html
But the biggest controversy is the cheese. Some swear by the provolone others prefer Cheez Whiz or American. As grizzled cheesesteak veterans we used to identify with the provolone camp but now we are all in with fake cheese camp, here’s why.
We grew up in small Midwestern towns, where there were no cheesesteaks, except the Great Steak Escape in the Mall of America food court. That’s where I had my first cheesesteak, with provolone and mayo. I had found a new friend. For several years every time I went to Minneapolis, I got a food court cheesesteak.
I even went so far as to try to thinly slice a fatty steak in like fashion at the restaurant I worked at after trying that first cheesesteak. It wasn’t until years later I realized it’s only possible to cut beef that thin, if it’s partially frozen. But that’s a different post.
Then one glorious day a cheesesteak shop opened in Downtown Moorhead, MN across the river where we lived in Fargo, ND. Finally we could nosh on cheesesteaks with provolone and mayo without driving 4 hours to Minneapolis. So we did.
Land of cheese and sausage
For the next five years we lived in Wisconsin, while there we were once again relegated to cheesesteaks with provolone and mayo in the food court at the Great Steak Escape. Which we did do sometimes, but around then we started to realize that food court food was seldom worth eating.
Then as regular readers will remember, we moved to the 9th circle of hell, or Rochester, Minnesota I can’t remember which. While we lived there I worked at a pretentious steak house with a mostly geriatric if wealthy clientele. Once a month in the summer, as many downtowns do, the 9th circle of hell’s downtown had a festival. The steak house I worked for had a booth there and they sold cheesesteaks.
One day after lunch service, I wandered over to the cheesesteak booth and figured I’d order one. So I did and watched in absolute horror as they took a perfectly good shredded cheesesteak and covered it in fake ass Cheez Whiz. Son of a bitch, I tried to suppress my frustration, I took my now ruined cheesesteak and went on my way. Stupid dick’s fucked it all up, who puts fake cheese on a perfectly good steak sandwich? Then I took a bite, it was juicy, amazing even with no mayo. After all these years, I now realized; I was the stupid dick who had been fucking it all up by not putting fake cheese on my cheesesteak.
When we relocated to Worcester, Massachusetts I got a job at one of the ubiquitous, Greek owned delis. Cheesesteaks just happened to be one of their specialties, the owner taking pride in the cuts of beef used. I made hundreds of them, that’s how I realized I like the shredded cheesesteaks better. The more it’s shredded, the more surface contact the fat gets, the more it renders out and can even become a bit crispy. If left in slices, the steak doesn’t render as much of the fat out resulting in a more steak like feel that needs a lot of chewing. Mmmm steak gum anyone?
It’s Always Sunny
The time had come to take all this educational cheesesteak evolution on the road to the source: Philadelphia. Famous for the rivalry Geno’s and Pat’s are across the avenue from one another. Why try one when we can try both? So that’s what we did. First up we went to Geno’s. Ordered one wit and wiz, local speak meaning; with onions and cheez wiz. It was good, juicy, no mayo needed but chewy, sliced steak. http://www.genosteaks.com/
Then we went to Pat’s for the same thing. The well-seasoned shredded steak made this a slightly better sandwich. But that is frankly splitting hairs as they were both pretty freakin’ good. Next time in Philly we just went to Pat’s.
We’d heard of Dinic’s in the Reading terminal market. They were pronounced as the purveyors of the best sandwich in the nation by Adam Richman. A cheesesteak of sorts, pork loin, provolone and broccoli raab all tucked into a roll, this sandwich did not live up to the hype. Unless you really like bitter broccoli raab overpowering everything else on the sandwich, try the brisket. The brisket is amazing, the other sandwich not so much. http://tommydinics.com/
Gotta be a prince before your king anyway
Now it had been years since we’d had cheesesteaks that didn’t have fake cheese (with the exception of the car wreck at Dinic’s). So we figured side by side comparison two cheesesteaks from Steve’s Prince of Steaks, one with provolone one with wiz. We tried the cheesesteak with Whiz, it was juicy, seasoned, cheesesteak deliciousness. The cheesesteak with provolone, painfully dry in comparison which sent me running back to the window to order a side of mayo. Don’t make a Philly cheesesteak a Philly cheese-mis-teak at least try the Whiz. http://www.stevesprinceofsteaks.com/
Okay so I’ve heard the argument Cheez Whiz is one molecule away from being a plastic. Shut up. It’s not like fatty steak on a white roll is an otherwise healthy lifestyle choice with provolone instead of Whiz. So do yourself a favor, try the whiz, just enjoy in moderation.
Coming soon: Paddy’s pub & protests in the city of brotherly love. Thanks for reading, we’ll see you then. -Pot and Pan Handler