If you’re a fan of the famous Philly cheesesteak, then you know that the type of cheese used can make or break the sandwich. The right cheese can complement and bring out the flavors of the meat and toppings, while the wrong kind can overshadow them or even ruin the texture and taste altogether. So what is the best cheese to use for Philly cheesesteak? In this article, we’ll delve into the history and role of cheese in the sandwich, explore the most popular cheese choices, and share tips on how to use and store them for the perfect Philly cheesesteak experience.
The History of Philly Cheesesteak and Cheese Choices
Before we dive into the cheese itself, let’s take a brief look at the history of Philly cheesesteak and its cheese choices. The cheesesteak originated in Philadelphia back in the 1930s when hot dog vendors started grilling up thin slices of beef and serving them on a roll. It wasn’t until a few years later that cheese was added to the mix, and the popular cheese choices were provolone or Swiss. American cheese was also available but wasn’t as widely used until the 1950s.
Today, there are many different cheese options available for Philly cheesesteak lovers. Some popular choices include Cheez Whiz, mozzarella, cheddar, and pepper jack. Each cheese adds a unique flavor and texture to the sandwich, and many restaurants and food trucks offer their own signature cheese blend. Some even offer vegan cheese options for those who prefer a plant-based diet. No matter what cheese you choose, one thing is for sure – a Philly cheesesteak is a delicious and iconic sandwich that has stood the test of time.
Understanding the Role of Cheese in Philly Cheesesteak
Nowadays, cheese is a crucial ingredient in Philly cheesesteak, adding texture, creaminess, and flavor to the sandwich. It helps bind the meat and toppings together and gives the sandwich a signature oozy, gooey quality. The right cheese should melt evenly and complement the saltiness and richness of the beef, peppers, and onions. At the same time, it shouldn’t overwhelm the other flavors or feel greasy or heavy.
Traditionally, the cheese used in Philly cheesesteak is Cheez Whiz, a processed cheese sauce that was invented in the 1950s. However, many restaurants and home cooks now use other types of cheese, such as provolone, American, or even Swiss. Some purists argue that Cheez Whiz is the only authentic choice, while others prefer the more natural taste of real cheese. Ultimately, the choice of cheese comes down to personal preference and the desired flavor profile of the sandwich.
Why Cheese is the Most Important Ingredient in a Philly Cheesesteak?
Cheese has been called the most important ingredient in a Philly cheesesteak, and for good reason. As mentioned earlier, the right cheese can elevate the sandwich to a whole new level of flavor and enjoyment. It can add complexity, depth, and richness to an already delicious combination of meat, vegetables, and bread. The wrong cheese, on the other hand, can detract from the sandwich’s highlights and make it less enjoyable.
But what makes the right cheese for a Philly cheesesteak? Traditionally, the cheese of choice has been Cheez Whiz, which provides a creamy and tangy flavor that complements the savory meat and onions. However, many people now prefer other types of cheese, such as provolone or American cheese, which offer a milder taste and a smoother texture. Some even opt for a combination of different cheeses to create a unique and personalized flavor profile. Ultimately, the choice of cheese comes down to personal preference, but it’s clear that the right cheese can make all the difference in a Philly cheesesteak.
Top 5 Popular Cheeses for Making a Delicious Philly Cheesesteak
So, what are the most popular cheeses for making Philly cheesesteak? Here are the top 5 choices:
- American cheese: This is the most widely used cheese for the sandwich and is known for its creamy, mild flavor and easy melting properties.
- Provolone cheese: This Italian cheese is a more robust flavor and has a sharper taste than American cheese. It melts perfectly and offers a subtle, smoky flavor.
- Whiz cheese: This is a processed cheese sauce that is known for its creamy texture and unparalleled melting properties. It’s not the most natural choice, but many people swear by it.
- Swiss cheese: Swiss cheese is a flavorful choice for those who prefer a nutty, slightly sweet taste. It pairs well with mushrooms or sautéed onions.
- Pepper Jack: This is a spicy cheese that can take the sandwich’s heat levels up a notch. It has a tangy, zesty flavor that can brighten the sandwich.
While these five cheeses are the most popular choices for a Philly cheesesteak, there are other options worth considering. For example, cheddar cheese can add a sharp, tangy flavor to the sandwich, while blue cheese can provide a bold, pungent taste. Some people even opt for a combination of different cheeses to create a unique flavor profile.
It’s also worth noting that the type of bread used for the sandwich can impact the cheese’s flavor and texture. A traditional Philly cheesesteak is served on a long, crusty roll, but some people prefer a softer, more pillowy bread. Ultimately, the choice of cheese and bread comes down to personal preference, and experimentation is encouraged to find the perfect combination.
What is Provolone and How is it Used in a Philly Cheesesteak?
Provolone is one of the most popular choices for Philly cheesesteak and is used by many of the most famous and oldest cheesesteak restaurants in Philly. The cheese is made from cow’s milk in Italy and has a sharp, tangy flavor that pairs well with beef. It melts beautifully and has a smooth texture, making it a favorite among cheesesteak fans.
In addition to being a popular choice for Philly cheesesteak, provolone is also commonly used in other dishes such as pizza, sandwiches, and pasta. Its versatility and delicious flavor make it a staple in many Italian dishes.
Provolone cheese comes in different varieties, including mild, sharp, and extra sharp. The sharp and extra sharp varieties are aged for a longer period, resulting in a stronger flavor. Some cheesesteak enthusiasts prefer the extra sharp provolone for a more intense taste in their sandwich.
Choosing Between American Cheese and Provolone for Your Philly Cheesesteak
Choosing between American cheese and provolone for your Philly cheesesteak ultimately comes down to personal preference. American cheese is milder and more straightforward than provolone and is an ideal choice if you prefer a classic, no-fuss cheesesteak. Provolone offers a more complex flavor and can elevate the sandwich’s taste if you’re looking for something richer and tangier.
Another factor to consider when choosing between American cheese and provolone for your Philly cheesesteak is the texture. American cheese is known for its smooth and creamy texture, while provolone has a firmer texture and can be slightly chewy. If you prefer a softer, melt-in-your-mouth cheese, American cheese may be the way to go. However, if you enjoy a bit of texture in your sandwich, provolone could be the better choice.
The Best Type of Cheese to Use with Different Cuts of Meat for a Philly Cheesesteak
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to which cheese is best for different cuts of meat, there are some general guidelines you can follow. If you’re using rib-eye or sirloin, provolone or American cheese is a good choice. Cheaper cuts like flank or skirt steak can be paired with more robust cheese like Swiss or pepper jack.
Another factor to consider when choosing the best cheese for your Philly cheesesteak is the cooking method. If you’re grilling your meat, a cheese that melts easily like provolone or American cheese is ideal. However, if you’re using a griddle or flat-top, a cheese that has a firmer texture like Swiss or cheddar may work better.
It’s also worth noting that some people prefer to use a combination of cheeses for their Philly cheesesteak. For example, a mix of provolone and cheddar can add a nice depth of flavor to the sandwich. Ultimately, the best cheese to use with different cuts of meat for a Philly cheesesteak comes down to personal preference and experimentation.
Experimenting with Different Types of Cheese to Give Your Philly Cheesesteak a Unique Twist
Part of the fun of making Philly cheesesteak is experimenting with different cheeses to give your sandwich a unique twist. Try adding a layer of sharp cheddar for a tangy bite, or use gouda for a smoky flavor. Blue cheese can also be added for a sharp, salty taste, as can feta or goat cheese for a creamy, tangy finish. Be creative and have fun exploring different cheese options.
The Impact of Using High-Quality Cheese on the Flavor of Your Philly Cheesesteak
Finally, it’s essential to use high-quality cheese when making your Philly cheesesteak. The quality of the cheese can make a massive impact on the sandwich’s flavor and texture. Look for cheese that’s fresh, not processed, and has a rich, creamy flavor. This may cost a bit more, but it’s well worth it for the final product’s taste and enjoyment.
Tips for Melting Cheese Perfectly Over Your Philly Cheesesteak
Melting cheese over your Philly cheesesteak can be tricky, but there are some tips to make the process easier. First, let the meat and toppings cook for a minute or two before adding the cheese to help melt it evenly. Next, use a lid or cover for a few seconds to help steam the cheese and melt it evenly. Finally, give the sandwich a few minutes to cool and let the cheese set in place before cutting or serving it.
The Importance of Choosing Fresh and Quality Cheese for Making a Delicious Philly Cheesesteak
Using fresh and high-quality cheese is essential for making a delicious Philly cheesesteak. Cheese can make or break the sandwich, so it’s essential to choose wisely. Always look for cheese that’s fresh, not processed, and has a rich, creamy texture and flavor. The cheese should complement the sandwich’s flavors without overpowering them or feeling heavy or greasy. A well-made Philly cheesesteak is a culinary delight, so give it the attention it deserves.
How to Store Leftover Cheese from Your Philly Cheesesteak?
If you have leftover cheese from your Philly cheesesteak, it’s important to store it properly to keep it fresh and flavorful. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store it in the refrigerator for up three to four days. For longer-term storage, you can freeze the cheese, but the texture may change slightly when thawed. Let the cheese come to room temperature before using it again for best results.
Now that you know all the different cheese options for your Philly cheesesteak, it’s time to experiment and find the one that suits your taste best. Remember to choose high-quality cheese, let it melt correctly, and give yourself the time and attention needed to make the perfect Philly cheesesteak. With the right cheese and ingredients, you can enjoy this classic sandwich at home or in a Philly restaurant.