Philadelphians know that it’s nearly impossible to find a real Philly cheesesteak anywhere outside of Philadelphia or south Jersey. Lots of places claim to have authentic Philly cheesesteaks, but they rarely get it right. So what makes a Philly cheesesteak so special? Let’s break it down:
1) Very thinly sliced steak, usually rib-eye or top round. The slices are paper thin, so that, when cooked, they can be piled onto the roll almost like cold cuts. They’re not lean cuts, not anything you’d want to eat rare, but rather greasy piles of meat. If it’s not greasy, it’s not a Philly cheesesteak.
2) Provolone, lightly layered on the bread before the meat is put on there, so the sandwich has just a slight cheesy taste and texture.
You can also do cheese whiz, which adds a different flavor, but the point is that this is not a fancy cheese layered on heavily or melted atop the sandwich. It blends in with the meat and bread into one delicious gooey mess.
3) An Amoroso roll. It’s nothing fancy — not a French baguette, not an airy ciabatta roll — but simply the best fluffy fresh long white roll you’ve ever tasted. And it’s got just enough substance to it to hold its own with meat and cheese dripping from it.
Optional: Fried onions, mushrooms, and/or hot peppers, ideally cooked with the meat on a big flat griddle. Most cheesesteak places have a large griddle that’s consistently occupied by a pile of cooking meat, a pile of finished meat waiting to be put on a roll, and a pile of cooking onions whose delicious juices can be blended into the cooked meat in an instant.