When it comes to a beloved American classic like the Philly cheesesteak, the type of cheese you choose can make or break the sandwich experience. The perfect cheesesteak cheese should be rich, creamy, and able to melt seamlessly into the steak and onions. But what cheese should you use for the perfect cheesesteak? In this article, we’ll explore the history and science behind cheesesteak cheese, break down the best cheeses for the job, and even offer some alternative options for those who don’t consume dairy.
The History of Cheesesteak Cheese
Before we dive into the cheeses themselves, let’s take a closer look at the history of cheesesteak cheese. While the origins of the cheesesteak sandwich itself are a bit murky, we do know that the addition of cheese was not always a given. It wasn’t until the 1950s that cheese started being added to the sandwich, with provolone becoming the most popular choice. American cheese soon became a popular alternative, and today you’ll find both of these cheeses as classic options for a Philly cheesesteak.
However, there are many other types of cheese that can be used to make a delicious cheesesteak. Some people prefer the tanginess of Swiss cheese, while others opt for the creaminess of cheddar. Pepper jack cheese can add a spicy kick to the sandwich, and even blue cheese has been used to create a unique twist on the classic Philly cheesesteak.
Interestingly, the debate over which cheese is the best for a cheesesteak is a hotly contested topic among Philadelphians. Some argue that provolone is the only true choice, while others swear by American cheese. Regardless of which cheese you choose, one thing is for sure: the addition of cheese takes the cheesesteak to a whole new level of deliciousness.
The Best Cheeses for a Perfect Cheesesteak
When it comes to the best cheeses for a perfect cheesesteak, there are a few key players to consider. Provolone and American cheese are both popular choices and have been used for decades. Provolone is a savory, full-flavored cheese that is slightly sharp but still creamy. It’s perfect for those who like their cheese with a bit of a bite. American cheese, on the other hand, is a milder, creamier cheese that melts seamlessly into the sandwich and has become a classic choice for many.
For those who want to branch out, other delicious options include pepper jack, cheddar, and even mozzarella. Pepper jack adds a spicy kick to the sandwich, while cheddar offers a sharper, tangier flavor. Mozzarella is a great option for those who prefer a more neutral cheese with a slightly sweet, milky taste.
If you’re looking for a cheese that’s a bit more unique, consider trying blue cheese or gouda. Blue cheese adds a bold, tangy flavor that pairs well with the savory steak, while gouda offers a nutty, slightly sweet taste that complements the sandwich perfectly.
It’s important to note that the type of cheese you choose can greatly impact the overall flavor of your cheesesteak. So, whether you stick with a classic choice or try something new, be sure to choose a cheese that will enhance the flavors of your sandwich and make it truly unforgettable.
How to Choose the Right Cheese for Your Cheesesteak
Choosing the right cheese for your cheesesteak depends on a few factors. Are you looking for a mild or bold cheese flavor? Do you want a cheese that will melt seamlessly or add a bit of texture to the sandwich? Keep in mind that the type of cheese can also affect the overall texture of the sandwich. Creamier cheeses will make for a smoother sandwich, while firmer cheeses like cheddar or pepper jack can add extra texture to each bite.
Another factor to consider is the type of steak you’re using. If you’re using a leaner cut of beef, a creamier cheese like American or provolone will help keep the sandwich moist and flavorful. If you’re using a fattier cut of beef like ribeye, a firmer cheese like cheddar or pepper jack can help cut through the richness of the beef. Ultimately, the right cheese is a matter of personal preference, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find the cheese that works best for you.
The Ultimate Guide to Making the Perfect Cheesesteak Cheese Sauce
If you want to take your cheesesteak to the next level, consider making a cheesy sauce to pour over the steak and onions. A simple cheese sauce can be made by melting together butter, flour, and milk, then adding in your choice of cheese until it’s melted and smooth. Provolone, American cheese, and even Cheez Whiz can all work well in a cheese sauce, depending on the flavor you’re going for.
For a more gourmet twist, try adding in some spices like garlic powder, onion powder, or cayenne pepper for an added kick. You can even swap out the milk for beer or stock to add some extra flavor.
American vs Provolone: Which Cheese Is Better for a Cheesesteak?
When it comes down to it, the age-old debate of American vs Provolone all comes down to personal preference. American cheese is a classic choice for those who want a mild, creamy cheese that is great for melting. Provolone, on the other hand, offers a bit more flavor and complexity, with a slightly sharp taste that adds depth to the sandwich. Some people even prefer to mix the two cheeses together for the ultimate cheesy experience. At the end of the day, the choice between American and provolone comes down to what flavor profile you personally prefer in your cheesesteak.
The Science Behind Melting Cheese for a Cheesesteak
Have you ever wondered why some cheeses melt better than others? The science behind melting cheese has to do with the cheese’s protein structure. Cheeses with a higher protein content, like provolone, become stretchy and gooey when melted, while cheeses with lower protein content, like mozzarella, tend to melt more easily and smoothly. This is why you’ll often find provolone used for cheesesteaks that need a bit of a stretchy, melty cheese, while American cheese is used for smoother, creamier sandwiches.
Exploring Regional Variations of Cheeses Used in Cheesesteaks
While American and provolone are the most well-known cheeses used in cheesesteaks, depending on where you are in the country, you may find some interesting regional variations. In South Philly, for example, some cheesesteak shops use a combination of white American and provolone. In the Midwest, you may find Swiss cheese used instead of provolone. In the Pacific Northwest, you might even find Tillamook cheddar being used. It just goes to show that while there may be “classic” cheeses used in cheesesteaks, there is always room for regional variation and experimentation.
Vegan and Dairy-Free Cheesesteak Cheese Alternatives
For those who are vegan or have lactose intolerance, there are still plenty of options available when it comes to cheesesteak cheese alternatives. Some popular vegan cheese brands like Daiya and Follow Your Heart offer alternatives that are great for melting and offer a comparable texture to traditional cheese. Nutritional yeast can also be used to add a cheesy flavor to a sandwich without any dairy. You can even use hummus or avocado as a spread to add a creamy texture to the sandwich if cheese is not an option.
Pairing Wines with Your Favorite Cheesesteak Cheese
If you want to take your cheesesteak experience to the next level, consider pairing it with a glass of wine. When it comes to pairing wine with cheesesteak, it’s all about finding balance. A lighter red wine like a Pinot Noir or a medium-bodied red like a Merlot can help balance out the rich, meaty flavor of the sandwich. For those who prefer white wine, a dry Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc can work well to cut through the creaminess of the cheese.
Was Cheese Always a Part of the Iconic Philly Cheesesteak?
While it’s hard to imagine a cheesesteak without cheese, it’s important to note that it wasn’t always a part of the sandwich. The cheesesteak sandwich itself has been around since the 1930s, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that cheese started being added. In fact, the original sandwich was made with just steak and onions on a roll. While cheese has become a classic and integral part of the sandwich over the years, it’s important to recognize the sandwich’s humble beginnings.
How to Store and Reheat Leftover Cheesesteaks with Different Types of Cheese
If you find yourself with leftover cheesesteak, storing and reheating can be a bit tricky depending on the type of cheese used. Creamy cheeses like American or Cheez Whiz can become greasy and tough when reheated, so it’s best to add the cheese to the sandwich when reheating in the oven or microwave. For firmer cheeses like cheddar or provolone, it’s best to store the sandwich without the cheese and add it after reheating. To keep your cheesesteak fresh in the fridge, wrap it tightly in foil or plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.
A Beginner’s Guide to Making Your Own Homemade Cheesesteak Cheese
For those who want to take their cheesesteak to the next level, consider making your own homemade cheesesteak cheese. A simple cheese sauce can be made by melting together butter, flour, and milk, then adding in your choice of cheese until it’s melted and smooth. For a more gourmet twist, try adding in some spices like garlic powder, onion powder, or cayenne pepper for an added kick. With a little experimentation, you can create your own custom cheese blend that is uniquely yours.
The Role of Cheese in the Overall Flavor Profile of a Classic Philly Cheesesteak
At the end of the day, the role of cheese in a classic Philly cheesesteak cannot be overstated. Cheese adds a creaminess and richness to the sandwich that complements the savory, juicy steak and caramelized onions. The right cheese not only adds flavor to the sandwich but also helps enhance the overall texture. Whether you prefer a classic American cheese or a more complex provolone, the perfect cheesesteak cheese is essential for creating a truly delicious sandwich.
When it comes down to it, the perfect cheesesteak cheese is a matter of personal preference. Whether you prefer a mild, creamy American cheese or a more bold and complex provolone, experimenting with different cheeses is a great way to discover what works best for you. Trying out different variations and even making your own homemade cheese sauce can not only take your sandwich to the next level but also provide a fun and delicious culinary adventure. Whatever cheese you choose, it’s clear that cheese is an integral part of the iconic Philly cheesesteak, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.