The cheesesteak originated in Philadelphia when hot dog stand owners, Pat and Harry Olivieri, started making and selling a sandwich made from chopped steak and grilled onions. The creation became so popular that the brothers opened Pat’s King of Steaks in 1930. Cheese was actually a later addition to the sandwich. At Pat’s nowadays, the menu remains simple, “wit” or “wit-out” onions, the choice of American cheese, Provolone or Cheese Whiz, and a few other simple variants. Pat’s has a long-standing rivalry with its across-the-street competitor, Geno’s Steaks, which was opened in 1966.
To make a cheesesteak at home, you can go a couple of routes. Pat’s and Geno’s both use rib-eye steak. If you choose this route, put the meat in the freezer for 15-30 minutes prior to slicing so that it is easier to slice thin. If you want to add onions, slice them to your desired thickness and cook in some oil over medium heat. You aren’t trying to caramelize the onions (although you can), you just want to cook them through, until they’re soft and brown around the edges. Season the onions with salt and pepper, you can also add a little chili powder and/or some Worcestershire sauce if you want. Remove the onions from the pan before you cook the steak so that they don’t burn.
Turn the heat up on the pan, season the sliced steak with salt and pepper and toss it in the hot pan, making sure to add more oil if it’s needed. The steak shouldn’t take too long to cook, once the edges of the meat are turning brown, you can reduce the heat and return the onions to the pan. Next, load up a hoagie roll with the steak and onion mixture and top with your cheese of choice. Melt the cheese and crisp the bread under the broiler for a few minutes before enjoying your sandwich. Ketchup or mayo can be added, if you so desire.
If you want to make a super easy Philly cheesesteak at home, use roast beef deli meat. You can cook the onions the same way, toss in the roast beef (you can slice it up or leave it whole) just to heat through and finish the same under the broiler.