I’ll admit it: I’ve never had a real Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. I’ve been to Philadelphia for Eat Write Retreat twice now, and I still haven’t had one. And, having a kosher kitchen, it’s not like I’m going to make one at home. What’s a girl to do?
Aside from the educational and informative sessions at Eat Write Retreat ’14, this year, the field trip to the Reading Terminal Market was especially revealing. That they were able to take the old Reading train station (remember your Monopoly board?) and turn it into an incredible indoor farmers’ market, must have been a real feat.
Our hosts, Iovine Brothers Produce and Molly Malloy’s restaurant, both located in the Reading Terminal Market, and sponsored by the Mushroom Council, prepared several unbelievable mushroom-centric dishes for us, including a (to me) mind-blowing Portabella Mushroom Philly Cheesesteak sandwich – which included the “secret” cheese sauce, by the way. That little sandwich was one of the best bites I’d had in a very long time.
Inspired, and not just a little obsessed by that session, I wanted to recreate that experience at home. Not being able to justify buying American cheese to make the sauce (maybe later!), I went with my favorite: mild and slightly nutty Jarlsberg cheese. Which I always have in the house, in case you’re wondering. You shouldn’t.
Here’s my version:
Portabella Mushroom “Philly Cheesesteak” Sandwiches with Jarlsberg
- 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, cut in half, then sliced in half-rounds
- 1 red bell pepper, cut in strips
- 1 8 oz package sliced “Baby Bellas” or Crimini mushrooms
- kosher salt (just 2 small pinches)
- Jarlsberg cheese, shredded or sliced (2 – 4 oz., depending on how cheesy you like your sammies!)
- 2 wholegrain sandwich rolls of your choice (or 4 “slider”-type rolls)
Heat 1 Tbs. of the olive oil in a large grill pan or griddle over medium-high heat, using a silicone or heat-resistant brush to spread the oil around the pan.
Add the sliced onion and bell pepper strips to the hot pan, sprinkle with a small pinch of kosher salt. Stir occasionally and allow the vegetables to soften and char a bit. When the onions are soft and translucent (about 6-10 minutes), transfer the vegetables to a dish and set aside.
Add 1 Tbs of the olive oil to the same pan, again brushing the oil evenly over the surface of the pan. Add the sliced mushrooms to the hot pan in a single layer, and sprinkle with another small pinch of kosher salt. Allow the mushrooms to cook for about two minutes, stir, and allow to cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until they are soft and brown with a bit of a char. Remove from heat.
I like to toast the rolls a bit, but you don’t have to. Place a layer of Jarlsberg cheese on the bottom of each roll, then add the hot mushrooms, followed by the grilled onions and peppers. Top with more Jarlsberg, if desired, then heat briefly in the oven, toaster oven, or even (heresy!) for a few seconds in the microwave, just to get the cheese melted a bit and gooey.
Treating Portabella mushrooms this way, makes them taste particularly meaty and satisfying. The flavors of the grilled mushrooms, bell pepper and onion meld beautifully with the Jarlsberg. Try this!
I don’t want to give you the impression that I minimize the educational aspects of EWR ’14. I always look forward to the Eat Write Retreat food bloggers’ conference every year. It’s not the biggest of the foodie cons, but that’s why I love it. Limited to only about 100 bloggers and a few sponsors, it’s intimate and the takeaways are always relevant and eye-opening. I never fail to come away with something new – and I’m not talking about the swag! (Which was awesome – as always!)