When it comes to Philadelphia’s famous sandwich, the Philly Cheesesteak, one of the most divisive debates among enthusiasts is whether to top it with provolone or mozzarella cheese. In this article, we’ll explore the history of the Philly Cheesesteak, the differences between these two popular cheeses, the best spots to find a delicious Philly Cheesesteak, and how to make it at home. We’ll also dive into the pros and cons of using provolone or mozzarella, as well as the nutritional benefits of each cheese and pairing it with wine. Finally, we’ll look at vegetarian and vegan options for those who don’t eat meat but still crave this classic sandwich.
The History of Philly Cheesesteak: How It All Began
The Philly Cheesesteak is a beloved sandwich that originated in Philadelphia in the 1930s. Pat Olivieri, a hot dog vendor, cooked some thinly sliced beef on the grill, added it to a hoagie roll, and topped it with some onions. A passing cab driver smelled the delicious aroma and asked for one for himself. The rest is history, and today, the Philly Cheesesteak is a staple of Philadelphia cuisine and a popular dish around the world.
Over the years, the Philly Cheesesteak has undergone some changes and variations. Some people prefer to add cheese to their sandwich, while others like to add peppers or mushrooms. There are also different types of cheese that can be used, such as provolone or Cheez Whiz. Despite these variations, the original recipe of thinly sliced beef and onions remains the most popular.
The Philly Cheesesteak has become so popular that it has even inspired its own festival in Philadelphia. The annual Philly Cheesesteak Festival brings together some of the best cheesesteak vendors in the city, along with live music and other entertainment. It’s a celebration of the sandwich that has become a symbol of Philadelphia’s food culture and a must-try for anyone visiting the city.
The Best Philly Cheesesteak Spots in Philadelphia
Philadelphia is home to many great cheesesteak spots, and if you’re in town, you should definitely try some of them out. One classic spot is Pat’s King of Steaks, which is where Pat Olivieri originated the sandwich. Another popular spot is Geno’s Steaks, which is located across the street from Pat’s. Jim’s Steaks is also a favorite among locals, and it offers a variety of cheese options, including provolone, mozzarella, and Cheez Whiz.
However, if you’re looking for a lesser-known spot that still serves up an amazing cheesesteak, you should check out Dalessandro’s Steaks in Roxborough. This family-owned business has been around since 1960 and is known for its juicy, flavorful sandwiches. They also offer a variety of toppings, including mushrooms, onions, and hot peppers. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait in line, though – Dalessandro’s is a popular spot among locals who know where to find the best cheesesteaks in town.
Understanding the Difference Between Provolone and Mozzarella Cheese
Provolone and mozzarella cheese are both great options for topping a Philly Cheesesteak, but they have some differences. Mozzarella is a slightly sweeter cheese that is made from buffalo milk, while provolone is saltier and is made from cow’s milk. Mozzarella melts well and has a smooth texture, while provolone has a firmer texture and becomes a bit stringy when melted.
Another difference between provolone and mozzarella cheese is their origin. Provolone cheese originated in Southern Italy, specifically in the regions of Basilicata, Campania, and Molise. On the other hand, mozzarella cheese originated in Naples, Italy. Additionally, provolone cheese is aged for a longer period of time than mozzarella, which gives it a stronger flavor.
Taste Test: Provolone vs. Mozzarella on a Philly Cheesesteak
If you’re still not sure which cheese to choose, why not conduct a taste test? You could make two Philly Cheesesteaks, one with provolone and one with mozzarella, and decide on your favorite. It’s all a matter of personal taste, but generally, provolone offers a saltier, sharper flavor, while mozzarella is a bit sweeter and creamier.
Another factor to consider when choosing between provolone and mozzarella on a Philly Cheesesteak is the texture. Provolone has a firmer texture and tends to hold its shape better, while mozzarella is softer and more likely to melt and blend in with the other ingredients.
It’s also worth noting that some traditionalists argue that neither provolone nor mozzarella should be used on a Philly Cheesesteak, and that the only acceptable cheese is Cheez Whiz. While this may be a controversial opinion, it’s worth trying all three options to see which one you prefer.
How to Make the Perfect Philly Cheesesteak at Home
If you can’t get to Philadelphia to try out some of the local spots, why not make your own Philly Cheesesteak at home? First, you’ll need some thinly sliced beef, which you can find at your local butcher or supermarket. Heat up a griddle or skillet and cook the beef until it’s browned. Then, chop up some onions and cook them until they’re softened. Finally, add some cheese, whether it’s provolone, mozzarella, or Cheez Whiz, and let it melt. Then, add it all to a hoagie roll and enjoy!
For an extra kick of flavor, you can also add some peppers to your Philly Cheesesteak. Sauté some sliced green or red bell peppers along with the onions for a delicious addition. Another option is to add some hot peppers, such as jalapeños or banana peppers, for a spicy twist. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different toppings and cheeses to find your perfect combination!
The Pros and Cons of Using Provolone or Mozzarella on Your Cheesesteak
There are pros and cons to using provolone or mozzarella on your Philly Cheesesteak, and it depends on your personal preference. Provolone offers a sharper, saltier flavor that complements the meat and onions well. It also has a firmer texture that doesn’t melt as quickly. Mozzarella, on the other hand, is creamier and slightly sweeter, which balances the spiciness of the beef and onions. It also melts quickly and easily.
Another factor to consider when choosing between provolone and mozzarella is the texture of the cheese. Provolone has a more distinct texture that adds a bit of crunch to your cheesesteak, while mozzarella is smoother and creamier. Some people prefer the added texture of provolone, while others enjoy the creaminess of mozzarella.
It’s also worth noting that the type of bread you use can affect the overall taste and texture of your cheesesteak. A softer roll may pair better with the creaminess of mozzarella, while a crustier roll may hold up better with the firmer texture of provolone. Ultimately, the choice between provolone and mozzarella comes down to personal preference and the specific flavors and textures you’re looking for in your cheesesteak.
Health Benefits and Nutritional Information of Provolone vs. Mozzarella Cheese
When it comes to nutritional value, provolone and mozzarella are both good sources of protein and calcium. However, provolone is higher in sodium, with around 427 milligrams per ounce, while mozzarella has around 175 milligrams per ounce. Mozzarella is also lower in fat, with around 6 grams per ounce, compared to provolone’s 8 grams per ounce.
In addition to their nutritional value, both provolone and mozzarella cheese have unique health benefits. Provolone cheese contains a compound called spermidine, which has been shown to have anti-aging effects and may help prevent heart disease. Mozzarella cheese, on the other hand, is a good source of probiotics, which can improve gut health and boost the immune system.
When it comes to cooking, provolone and mozzarella have different melting properties. Provolone cheese has a higher melting point, making it a great choice for dishes that require a longer cooking time, such as lasagna or pizza. Mozzarella cheese, on the other hand, has a lower melting point, making it ideal for dishes that require a quick melt, such as grilled cheese sandwiches or caprese salad.
The Ultimate Guide to Pairing Wine with Your Philly Cheesesteak
If you’re a wine lover, you may wonder what wine goes well with a Philly Cheesesteak. The answer is a red wine with high acidity, such as a Chianti, Sangiovese, or Cabernet Franc. These wines complement the rich meat and cheese flavors and cleanse the palate between bites.
However, if you prefer white wine, a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio can also work well with a Philly Cheesesteak. These wines have a crisp acidity that can cut through the richness of the sandwich and provide a refreshing contrast to the flavors.
Another factor to consider when pairing wine with a Philly Cheesesteak is the type of bread used. If the sandwich is made with a crusty Italian roll, a full-bodied red wine like a Merlot or Zinfandel can complement the bread’s texture and flavor. On the other hand, if the sandwich is made with a softer roll, a lighter red or white wine may be a better choice.
Vegetarian and Vegan Options for Philly Cheesesteak: Substituting Cheese
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you can still enjoy a Philly Cheesesteak by substituting the meat with seitan or portobello mushrooms. For the cheese, you could use a vegan cheese substitute, such as Daiya, or make your own vegan cheese using cashews or tofu. It may not be the same as the classic Philly Cheesesteak, but it’s still a delicious and satisfying sandwich.
When it comes down to it, the choice between provolone or mozzarella on your Philly Cheesesteak is a matter of personal preference. Both are delicious options with unique flavors and textures that complement the meat and onions. Whether you’re in Philadelphia or making one at home, enjoy your Philly Cheesesteak with your favorite cheese, wine, or vegetarian substitute.
Another option for substituting the meat in a Philly Cheesesteak is using soy curls or tempeh. Soy curls have a similar texture to meat and can be seasoned to mimic the flavor of beef. Tempeh, on the other hand, has a nutty flavor and can be marinated to add more depth to the sandwich. Experiment with different meat substitutes and cheeses to find your perfect Philly Cheesesteak recipe.