My Philadelphia-born friend is so devoted to her city's most famous sandwich that the first thing she did after her big fancy wedding was to head, gown and all, to her favorite local spot for a cheesesteak to end the night. On a recent visit, I comparison-shopped the cheesesteak sandwich shop. Here's my standard order: onions, whiz (i.e., Cheez Whiz), provolone, and giardiniera -- the pickled vegetables perk up the whole meaty, cheesy business. Regardless of where you buy it, everything starts with the vigorous chopping and flipping spatulas cutting through the frying beef a-sizzle on the flattop. Beyond that, the rest is personalized. Add the whiz? provolone? onions? peppers? giardiniera? You better know what you want before you step up to the counter.Excerpted from Mad Hungry Cravings by Lucinda Scala Quinn, to be published by Artisan Books on March 19, 2013. Photographs by Jonathan Lovekin.
To make slicing it easier, freeze the beef for 30 minutes to firm up.
Preheat a double-burner griddle or two large skillets over medium-high heat. Thinly slice the meat against the grain.
Toss the onions in a bowl with the oil and put them on the griddle. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions become translucent. Push the onions to the back of the griddle.
Place the beef on the griddle and season with salt and pepper. Cook, turning occasionally, until no pink remains. Stir the onions into the beef and chop the beef mixture into bite-size pieces with the side of a metal spatula.
Divide the beef and onions between the hoagie rolls. Top with the provolone and cheese sauce. Serve immediately, topped with giardiniera, if desired.