Football Playoffs require messy, meaty food, ice cold beer, dip and chips to go with loud commercials and living room fans yelling at the TV, gesturing at the stupidity of referees, yelling at poor call choices from team coaches, blundering quarterback passes and dropped receiver catches. Either the defense or offense sucks or are brilliant (neither at the same time). The quarterback is continually getting sacked; is the team fighting? Why isn't the quarterback getting coverage?
Fortunately for me, I grew up in a home where my Dad loved football so you will find me front and center yelling at stupid calls or poor plays, catching air off the couch cushions when the receiver screams across the field on an unbelievable return or (of course) a touchdown with a 2 point conversion instead of a fieldgoal. What I do not get is how we can yell, get huffy, gobble down great food (I made the food, trust me, it's great!), drink beer and live to talk about it. Our stomachs must practice becoming grid iron.
I absolutely, beyond doubt, LOVE making Philly cheese steaks! Food can be a work of art if the home cook is not afraid to add passion to his or her cooking accompanied with fearlessly intermixing of flavors to create amazing food (a cooks own concoction deviating from any recipe). Not all combinations are going to be the next big hit but when you do get a result that blows your socks off ~ you do 'not' forget it and the reward lasts in our memories for a lifetime. ***When a result this earth shattering happens, you IMMEDIATELY write down the ingredients used, the amounts and cooking times. Trust me, unless there is a photogenic mind involved, the recipe will quickly become vague and frustration and disbelief will follow. Especially if certain family members and friends drive you nuts asking you to make the food again. Of course you are not going to tell them the recipe was never written down and you forgot how to make it! Even blogging recipes and taking astronomical amounts of food pictures does not insure against this one BIG kitchen goof-up.
Here is how I basically make the Philly cheese steaks, give or take a few peppers, mushrooms and seasonings:
2 pounds sirloin or rib steak, well trimmed and boneless
About 1/4 cup olive oil plus Pam spray for the griddle
2 (at least) Vidalia or other sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 large bell pepper, thinly sliced
About 4 Chile peppers of your choice~I use 2 red jalapenos and 2 poblanos
1/2 pound button mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 soft hoagie rolls, halved
1/3 lb. Provolone cheese, thinly sliced (American is also delicious)
Slice the beef on an electric meat slicer OR: using plastic wrap, tightly roll the steak into a log shape. Put the beef into the freezer for about 45 minutes to firm up the meat. You do not want the meat completely frozen. Now use a serrated knife to 'thinly' slice the beef (as close to paper thin slices as possible). Once all the beef has been cut, refrigerate until the remaining ingredients are ready.
Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saute pan (I use my cast iron skillet) set over low heat. Put in the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until nicely softened and lightly caramelized but not browned, about 20 minutes. Transfer the onions to a bowl and set aside. Add the bell peppers, chile peppers and mushrooms to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and fry on medium low heat for about 6 minutes. NOW, add the minced garlic and continue cooking until everything is soft and tender, about another 6 minutes (12 minutes total). Transfer to the bowl with the onions. Keep the onions and peppers covered and warm.
Get the griddle warmed up on medium-high. When hot, add the oil (sometimes I add Pam spray while the griddle is cold then heat the griddle). Take your meat out of the refrigerator while the griddle is heating up so the beef can start to come to room temperature. Put half of the beef slices on hot griddle and saute about 2 minutes. Mix in half the onions and pepper mixture; set a large pan lid over all and allow to steam for several more minutes.
You can now either put your Provolone slices over the meat while on the griddle or wait until the meat is spooned into the hoagie roll then add. The cheese will get soft and melt over the hot meat.
The BUN: Pull out a little of the doughy insides of each hoagie roll, then drizzle with a little olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar (this is optional), and a pinch of salt and pepper. Put beef mixture inside each roll and finish with several slices of Provolone cheese. Serve with pride!