Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tastes like chicken (cheese steak)

The cheese steak. Probably no sandwich is associated with a city and region the the cheese steak is with Philly. There are literally hundreds, maybe thousands of steak shops found throughout the entire Delaware Valley. Typically a Philly style cheese steak is thin sliced rib-eye (as opposed to shaved sirloin like a Northeast steak and cheese) grilled on a flap top wit or witout (sic) onions and your choice of Whiz (Cheez Whiz) or provolone. The ordering process is soup Nazi-esque as there are monstrous lines at the most popular of these joints. I happen to love cheese steaks and was thrown for a loop when a friend mention a chicken cheese steak. Intrigued, I asked her to describe it. She said grilled chicken served cheese steak style. OK, makes sense. It's one of those makes sense in a chicken fried steak kind of way. I said to myself well I've had a bunch of grilled chicken subs, how different could it be? Next time I was in the area I went out and tried one and it rocked in it's simplicity. It was different say a chicken stir-fry sub or any grilled chicken sub I had tried in MA. The secret seemed to be the really thin cut chicken, marinated, cooked hot and quick so as to not dry out. After a couple of trial and errors and a bit of research I found the perfect, simple recipe that's both simple and tasty

Before we move on I want to address one subject briefly; knives. I've learned over the years the success or failure of many a dish can be traced back to knife cuts. A sharp knife allows you to make thinner, finer, much more precise cuts then using a dull knife. In the following recipe thin cuts are required so grab your sharpest knife and let's get going


Boneless, skinless chicken breast- I bought 2 1/2 lbs at $1.69 a lb. I prepped it all and froze what I didn't use. Depending on your appetite or how many people are eating I'd figure on a 1/2 to 3/4 lb portion per person

Creamy Italian dressing- Nothing high end, whatever is on sale

Sub roll or torpedo roll
Cheez Whiz Processed Cheese Spread or provolone cheese


Frying pan with lid- I'm using my handy dandy electric skillet

Sharp knife

Cutting board

Ziploc bag

Strainer or colander


Step 1- Lay out the chicken breast on your cutting board and trim any excess fatty pieces of skin or cartilage hanging on. This will ensure every bite is tender. Take the trimmed chicken and put them in your freezer for about 45 min to an hour to solidify making thin cuts much easier

Step 2- Remove your slightly hardened chicken from the freezer. Leave the chicken you're not working with in the freezer until ready to cut. Carefully, keeping your fingers away from the knife, cut the chicken in long, thin strips. As thin as you can. When you're done cutting strips, cut the strips in half to make cooking easier

Step 3- Put your sliced chicken into a Ziploc bag and pour in enough creamy Italian dressing to cover the chicken. Work the chicken around with your hand to evenly distribute it. Squeeze as much excess air our of the bag. Let marinate the the refrigerator for at least a half hour. Since I'm doing a make ahead I'm going to let it marinate over night

Step 4- Take the chicken from the bag and put it in a strainer in the sink. Run cold water over the chicken until most of the visible marinade is gone. Let sit for at least 15 minutes to come to room temperature as it will cook quicker (this is suggested but not necessary)

Step 5- Turn your skillet to 350 or your frying pan on your stove top to medium high heat. Using tongs or a slotted spoon put your chicken in the hot pan. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to the pan as the steam will help with the cooking. Don't add too much as it won't all evaporate and you'll end up with excess liquid in the pan. Grab your spatula and and move the chicken around, turning it over and chopping it up as you go. After a couple of minutes lid the pan to again use a little of the steam to cook the chicken thru. If you followed the directions to this point the total cooking time should be no more then 3 minutes or so

Step 6- If your using Cheez Whiz, split your roll in half but not all the way thru and apply a generous spread of Whiz to both the top and bottom of the roll. If you're using provolone, and I recommend sharp provolone, apply 2 slices to your now cooked but still hot in the pan chicken to let it melt. If you want to eat it like me go with both Whiz AND sharp provolone

Step 7- Use your spatula or slotted spoon to pile the chicken on the roll and enjoy!!

The important parts of this recipe are ultra-thin slices, a long marinade, and a hot pan to ensure thorough cooking while not drying it out. As you probably know by know I'm not an onion or pepper guy but if you want to add them to your cheese steak, go for it. Let me know what you think of this one

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