"Leftover" Philly Cheese Steak

Posted Apr 25, 2006
Last Updated May 17, 2006
So you go out to a fancy steakhouse, and even though you think you are hungry enough to eat your body weight, the salad and bread fill you up and you don’t get through your steak. They wrap the remnants of a perfectly medium-rare, juicy cut of prime beef in some heavy duty aluminum foil and send you on your way.

Fast-forward to tomorrow. You ask yourself, “how am I supposed to reheat this steak?” If your first instinct is to toss it in the microwave, please carve a big letter M into your chest now. Keeping it in the original foil and heating it in the oven at 250 F until a probe thermometer tells you it’s at the right core temp is best, but maybe not practical. Heck, an AARP magazine I read said the best way is to pour hot water over the foil-wrapped goody until it heats up. I can’t argue with that, but people who are paranoid about germs might not like that. My college roommate would probably just eat it cold on some bread.

In my opinion, the best way to reheat the steak is to use it as an ingredient for something else. I’ve used my leftovers in stir fry, chili, and my personal favorite: the cheese steak. Because you are slicing the meat very thin, you can cook it very quickly on a very hot pan. The outsides will sear rapidly, destroying any surface bacteria, while the insides maintain a nice medium to medium-rare color and flavor.

My favorite fancy restaurant in Cleveland is Hyde Park, where I enjoy both the filet and the New York strip. They also make some fantastic mushrooms, sautéed in butter and wine. I typically slice and sauté these up too, for a great mushroom cheese steak. Most steakhouses have an onion and mushroom side dish, which means you have everything you need except the cheese and rolls already in your doggie bag. Stop by your grocery store on the way home to pick up some fresh rolls.

Here’s what the ingredients do.

Steak
A good cut of meat is essential to the minute-steak process. If you brought home sirloin from your steakhouse, you are better off making chili. New York strip, tenderloin, porterhouse, and rib eye are great cuts.

Oil
The oil is just needed to properly brown the onion, if you are using a onion & mushroom side dish, it will have enough oil in it already. Just heat the side dish through.

Salt
Almost never attempt browning onions without salt. Salt will add flavor, and help draw moisture out of the onions. Salt is the difference between brown, tender onions and tan, gooey onions.

Onion and Mushroom
Although technically not necessary for a cheese steak, I can’t imagine eating one without onions. The sweetness of browned onions enhanced the flavor of the steak, and the deep rich tones of mushrooms are a perfect compliment.

Cheese
Without the cheese, it’s just a steak sandwich. I like provolone, and a lot of people like white American. For authenticity, use Cheese Whiz.

Hoagie Roll
The better the bun, the better the sandwich. It must be moist, firm, and easy to slice. Don’t cut it all the way in half, or your cheese steak will be impossible to eat.

"Leftover" Philly Cheese Steak

Leftover steak (4 oz)
1 T. Vegetable Oil
Salt
1 medium onion, chopped
(optional) leftover mushrooms
Cheese
Hoagie rolls

Nonstick Skillet
Tongs
Cutting Board
Sharp knife (slicer)

Allow the steak to come to almost room temperature (20 minutes or so). Slice the leftover steak on the bias (that’s a 45 degree angle) as thin as is possible with your knife. Really, the thinner the better. I’ve done this with leftover fillet and leftover New York strip. The strip is better suited for it, but the filet is great too.

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over high heat. Brown the onions with some salt, then push into a pile on one side of the skillet. If you have some leftover steakhouse mushrooms, slice those thin and fry them up for a few minutes, then push to the side of the pan. Add steak slices to the hot pan, fry for 1 minute on each side. If they won’t all fit at once, fry in small batches and put finished pieces on top of the pile of onions.

Put slices of cheese (I like provolone) on the hoagie rolls, place hot mixture right on top of the cheese. The heat from the steak and onions will melt the cheese.

If you want some sort of condiments, go for it. I don’t think you’ll need any.

Makes 2 sandwiches.

The "Leftover Chef" makes simple food out of leftovers and random pantry ingredients. His main goal is to help other people learn how to make great food with what they've already got on hand.

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