Reading Cheesesteaks

I learned a great deal of my cooking from my mom’s side of the family. However, we have learned a few things from my dad’s side as well. When I was younger, we didn’t get to see my paternal grandmother, Mom Mom, too often. She lived in Reading, PA, so travel was usually limited to the summer months, when we weren’t in school, but was further limited to August after our summer long-course swim season had ended. Not to mention the cost of flying a family of five across the country. It was usually easier for Mom Mom to fly to Portland to visit us. Needless to say, I can probably count on one hand the number of times that we visited Mom Mom in Reading. However, every time we went, we always made sure to stop at my dad’s cousins sandwich shop. I was always fascinated by the fact that the shop was connected to their home, as they lived above it. Brett was always a huge fan of the meatball sandwich, but I was always partial to their take on the cheesesteak. It is not a traditional cheesesteak, because they put marinara sauce on top, but I think that this adds to the sandwich and you’re left with a sandwich that is not dry nor does it have to be greasy.

Reading Cheesesteaks

This was how my dad’s cousins made their cheesesteaks in their sandwich shop. When slicing meat, make sure to temper meat in the freezer for 20-30 minutes beforehand. Ideally, use a deli meat slicer to slice meat as thinly as possible. You can also ask your butcher to thinly slice it for you.

  • 2 sweet onions, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds sirloin tip roast, thinly sliced
  • 12-16 slices white American cheese slices
  • 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • Dried oregano, to taste
  • 6-8 baguette-like rolls

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add tomato sauce, salt and pepper, garlic powder, and oregano to taste. Heat through and reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Add vegetable oil to large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they have caramelized, but still retain some body to them. Remove and set aside. Divide meat into 6-8 portions, depending on the size of the sandwiches. Add a little more oil to the skillet and add half the meat and season with salt and pepper, keeping the portions separate. Cook meat through and then add caramelized onions on top, followed by two slices of American white cheese. Allow the cheese to melt. Meanwhile, cut the roll lengthwise, but not all the way through, so that it creates a pocket. Using a spatula, scoop the sandwich filling and place it inside the sandwich. Plate the sandwich and ladle sauce on top. Serve immediately.

Reading Cheesesteak
Reading Cheesesteak
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