As it turns out, Philly Cheesesteak is an amazing meal even if it’s just Philly Steak. Meaning, no cheese sauce or bread included. Not authentic, but delicious none-the-less. You really can’t go wrong with thinly sliced rib eye topped with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and peppers.
Philly Cheesesteak isn’t about fancy seasonings and preparation methods. Salt and pepper is all you need. Sear the thinly sliced steak for only a minute, sauté the mushrooms and peppers until tender, and cook the onions until brown and sweet. Then pile it all high on plate – Philly Cheesesteak isn’t about dainty serving sizes.
If you’re passionately opposed to Philly Cheesesteak without cheese sauce and you tolerate dairy, then there’s something here for you too: a decadent cheese sauce made with real cheese and no starchy thickener of any kind. (Or, forget about making cheese sauce and just melt a slice of really good cheddar or aged provolone on top.)
Time in the Kitchen: 1 to 1 1/2 hours
2 tablespoons butter (30 ml)
2 large yellow onions, sliced thinly
2 to 2 1/2 pounds rib-eye or other tender, boneless steak (900 g)
3 tablespoons olive oil (45 ml)
1 pound mushrooms (450 g)
4 bell peppers, sliced thinly
Salt and Pepper
Cheese Sauce (Optional)
1 cup whole/heavy cream (240 ml)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (15 ml)
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese (90 g)
A pinch of turmeric (optional, it’s just for color)
Melt the butter in a wide pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring only occasionally, until they are soft and deeply browned, 30 to 45 minutes. If the onions start getting too dark, turn the heat down to medium-low. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Once the onions start cooking, put the steak in the freezer for 30 minutes. This makes the meat easier to slice thinly. Once it’s out of the freezer, slice the meat as thinly as possible.
Put the sliced steak in a large bowl and toss lightly with a little bit of olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a wide skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Add the peppers and cook the mushrooms and peppers until tender, 10 to 20 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Heat a skillet (ideally, cast iron) over high heat. When it’s hot, add the pieces of steak, cooking for only about 30 seconds a side.
Pile the steak up on a plate. Top with onions, mushrooms and peppers.
To make the cheese sauce: Bring the cream to a gentle simmer in a skillet over medium, or just a notch below medium, heat. Stir frequently with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the skillet so the cream doesn’t burn. After 5 minutes stir in the mustard. The sauce will start to thicken. Stir constantly while the sauce simmers for another 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Slowly add the cheese, stirring vigorously to help it melt completely. Add turmeric if desired for color.