My Quarantine Kitchen Volume I: Homemade Cheese Steak Sandwiches

Having a little more time means I get to make meals that impress my family more than, say, once a month. Make no mistake- I am still telling my family to eat scraps or cereal or freezer foods or Cheetos- you catch my drift. But I am trying to meal plan more so I can at least have us eating well while we are going through this occasionally scary time (note I did not say eating healthy– although I am still trying to find a balance!)

I guess I was feeling inspired when I made my meal plan this last time because I included home made cheese steaks on it. I even PLANNED on making the bread. Pre-Covid, I would have definitely scrapped that idea at the last minute and made a quick trip to the store to pick up the bread. But since I am trying to limit my grocery store trips, I decided to follow through with said plan.

I have been trying to re-create the French bread that we eat in New Orleans (from Leidenheimer Baking Company– if ya don’t know, now ya know!) This bread has a flaky, crusty exterior and an inside that is almost the texture of cotton candy. It is light, airy, fluffy, and tastes amazing.

Of course Leidenheimer does not post the recipe for their bread, so I’ve been using this recipe from King Arthur flour. It has been hit or miss, really- but this time I added a warm light and humidifier to the mix. It made a big difference! Gotta re-create that swampy atmosphere!

Swampy atmosphere
Located under my microwave/vent, lights on (a little heat), the humidifier (swamp), and towels to trap some of the moisture in (swamp ass)

The bread turned out great. Not perfect, of course, … and the sheet I used was a little bit too short, but I am getting closer (although I don’t imagine I will ever really nail it 100%.)

Curvy bread. Don’t judge her, quarantining is hard on the hips.

Now- for the filling. I just want to apologize up front- I rarely measure anything. You just have to season little by little and keep TASTING YOUR FOOD, okay? Taste it while it’s cooking. Add a little more if it’s not right. Repeat all of that until it’s high on the yum factor.

Here are the ingredients I used:

Onions (sauteed) – I only had red onions but would recommend yellow. Reds are spicier and yellows are sweeter and pair better with steak

Mushrooms (sauteed)– I just used button mushrooms (pro-tip- always buy them whole, they last longer than the sliced!)

Peppers (sauteed) – I did not use these because I was out but I recommend them.

Thinly-sliced bottom round steak- I used about 2 lbs but it cooked down and I didn’t have quite enough to fill 4 loaves of bread. Listen, Linda- you can literally use any kind of steak as long as you don’t over cook it and season it well. I used salt and pepper- wanted to keep it basic and traditional. Add it little by little until it tastes good!

Thick-cut smoked provolone cheese- I normally buy the generic cheap stuff but it was sold out because- panic buying -so I had to get the good, thick, quality brand and I am glad I did. It really look it to the next level (see Instagram post with melty cheese video)

Dukes mayonnaise- Okay, I guess you can use whatever you like but if it’s not Dukes you are wrong. And if you don’t live in the south then I am just sorry.

I sauteed the onions and mushrooms with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and put them in a bowl. I put the steak on the same griddle, added a little more olive oil, salt and pepper and sauteed until brown. Not too long- don’t overcook it into a rubbery mess!

Since I thought I wouldn’t have enough steak for the 4 loaves of bread I made (there are 5 people in my family- 3 adults and 2 teenagers, we need a lot of food), I chopped up some leftover chicken breast and grilled that as well. It still didn’t look like enough so I tossed some turkey lunch meat on, FTW!

After that was done, I sliced the bread and liberally applied the mayo. Look, this is a steak and cheese sub. Don’t even think about skimping on the mayo. It will ruin the whole damn thing. If you don’t like mayo, I don’t know what to tell you. Go on somewhere else to another recipe.

I put the meat on the bread, put the onions and mushrooms on the meat (leave these off if you suck don’t like them), put the cheese on the onions and mushrooms. Try to cover BOTH sides of the bread with something because you are about to stick these puppies under the broiler and if the bread isn’t covered, it’s going to burn. Stick it on the top rack under a low broiler and DO NOT WALK AWAY. Watch this like you are watching (insert current hottest celebrity) emerge from a swimming pool dripping wet…

In other words, if you look away you are going to ruin the sandwich. Watch until the cheese starts to get a few light browns spot on top. That’s when it’s just right. Take it out and let it rest for a second. Slice it up and make sure you leave plenty of space on the sofa beside you for the rest of the night because your whole family will want to be near you so they can worship you.

See light brown spots on cheese? Take it out when you see those. See the barely burned edges of the bread? I walked away for 10 seconds! Don’t be like me.
I did actually serve it with Caesar salad. BALANCE. Sorry for the bad quality photo here.
Look at those crusty flakes on the top! (sniff, sniff)

I hope you are enjoying some time with your family and staying safe! Sending love to you all!

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