Monday, August 15, 2011

The Last Cheesesteak You Will Ever Eat...........Because It Might Kill You

Everyone has a philly cheese steak sandwich. Everyone. I mean, the name just speaks to you if you are perusing a menu. "Philly Cheese Steak here....Eat Me, please.....No, seriously, forget that chicken tender platter.....Eat Me instead...." So everyone puts one on there. Even Waffle House has a philly cheese steak for crimminy sake. Unfortunately, these little gems are usually the source of much taste bud let down. It would seem that steak, cheese and a bun would be hard to mess up, but I have found that nine out of ten are like eating a dried up horse jerky sandwich.
But there are winners out there. In Birmingham (our old friend, how we miss you....that was weird), you need look no further than Tavern on the Summit. It comes with an awesome thinly sliced roast beef, a ramikin of jus that I want to dip everything including ice cream and pickles in, and a creamy horseradish sauce that you have to ask for that will make you drool enough to need one of those cups that attaches to your face. It is only available at lunch time, so make it happen! (Ooooh, that's bossy.....What's with the parentheses?)
In Charlottesville, there are two little nuggets of Cheesesteak goodness that you need to know about. For the fast, cheap option, go with Fabio's NY Pizza #3. Their beef is chopped up very fine, almost like ground beef, but it is well seasoned and comes on a toasted french roll with a good salty cheese. Plus the staff is very friendly.
If you want to spend a little more, wait a little longer, and see some real weirdos walk by while you sit, go get an outdoor table at Miller's in Charlottesville. Miller's is on the Downtown Mall here in town, and for those of you who don't know what that is, it is the old main street with a bunch of old school store fronts that is closed to traffic. Now it has a ton of upscale restaurants, music venues and shops (most of which survive on mere pretense alone), and is where Charlottesville stores most of its homeless. The clash between the ultra needy and the ultra douchey is just upsetting. The elite are so disgusted by the Great Unwashed that they even tried to pass an ordinance that would outlaw panhandling within so many feet of a store front or outdoor dining area. In certain places, this meant that the street was off limits to the homeless from one side to the other, so it was illegal for them to even exist on a public city street if they even thought about asking a Lacoste wearing, bikini waxing, tortoise shell glasses on top of the head sporting, white bread eating, family money inheriting, Jersey Shore idolizing, Teacup Chihuahua owning  tool bag of a dude for money. Nice feature for a town that was home to three of the Founding Fathers of American Independence.  (Wow, he sounds angry! ......Who is saying that?)
Somehow we got off track here.....Charlottesville's exciting Downtown Mall has lots of fantastic opportunities for the adventure seeker or the casual diner!.......Ok, so most of it should be closed for good, but there are some really awesome places that keep us going back. Miller's is one of them. It used to be a drugstore back in the day, and as a hack pharmacist, that appeals to me. It also was the first venue that the Dave Matthews Band played, which probably appeals to many people, though I stopped liking Dave Matthews when I realized that the only people who still like Dave Matthews are 21 year old white girls who are thinking about getting tattoos, but can't make up their minds what to get so they think about it for a month and then finally get a white tattoo of a ring on their middle finger, which they promptly cover up with an actual ring. Anyhoo, Miller's is awesome. The staff are all tatted up, but all super nice, and not a trace of douche can be found on any of them. They are always extremely accomodating to our one year old, which is a lot of fun, and their outdoor seating is in a shady area that is very comfortable even on hot days. There is live music from some pretty well known groups every night, and their food is top notch. They also have a "beer club" which gets you special honors after you drink 100. I am on number 7. If I stay in CVille long enough to get to 100, I'm going to need 100 more. (Is there something about Cheesesteaks coming? Jeez.........Okay, now that's starting to freak me out).
ANYWAYS, their cheesesteak is the second best one in town. It has good quality, real steak, and it is well worth the ridiculously long wait when they are busy.

So, who has the #1 Philly Cheese Steak in the world?

The Jacked Up Grill does, mi amigo. The Jacked Up Grill does.

I asked Preglicious what she wanted me to grillerize for her the other night, and without hesitation she said "Make me one of those famous cheese steaks, you handsome hunka man, and I'll bear your children." I asked her if I could quote her using those exact words, and she replied "Sure, no one's going to read it anyway."

The perfect cheese steak starts with your willingness to chop up a top quality steak. Harris Teeter Select Premium Angus Ribeye goes on sale every four weeks for $7 a pound, and this is your time to strike. I get a super sharp knife and slice it as thin as possible.

Next, finely chop 1/2 of a yellow onion and dice a green bell pepper. Add a few pieces of pickled banana pepper rings and jalepeno slices, coarsely chopped. I season the meet with salt, fresh ground black pepper, and garlic powder. The best bun I have found is Maier's Enriched Italian Style Steak Rolls.
I acquired a large flat top griddle a few years ago, and it makes the creation of the pinnacle of cheese steak achievement very easy (Did that sentence make sense? He's losing me..............Stop that!)
This whole thing can also be done in a skillet, but it is just more fun to see everything all spread out and cooking at the same time on the griddle.
First, butter the buns and let them toast in the corner while everything else cooks. Throw down two strips of bacon, and let them get all the way crispy. Remove the bacon and crumble it and save it for later. Then, throw the peppers and onion into the bacon fat, letting them cook until just soft. Move them to the cooler part of the griddle and throw down the ribeye.

The thin slices will cook very quickly, so just keep moving them around until they are all brown. At this point, mix the vegetables back in with the meat and let everything get all wiped all over each other. Then, arrange into two sandwich sized piles, sprinkle with the bacon pieces, and cover with smoked provolone cheese slice. Allow the cheese to melt and start turning brown in little puddles around the meat.
The transfer to the bun is a critical moment. It doesn't have to be pretty, but leave no cheese behind. Dress your finished sandwich with mayo, lettuce and tomato, and you are about to have the most excellent philly cheese steak you will ever have in your life. You will start boycotting restaurants who claim they make a good one, because you will know they pale to what you made with your own hands. You will start dreaming about it.........it's just that kind of good. (A little melodramatic, fatty................okay, I've had enough out of you, with your high pitched parenthetical voice. People are going to read this and think, "That's really weird. Why did he put all that commentary in there? He's weird." And it will all be your fault! Don't blame me, loyal reader!)

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Anyways, try this at home. It's the last philly cheese steak you'll ever want to eat again.

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