04 June 2007

All American Hero - Part 2

Hmm, what got me started on this? The fact that David and I have been talking and dreaming about the Hero. That and the cheesesteaks I've been making at home. Let's see at the Hero we started with rib eye steak. The rib eye's came in, we cut them in half and then froze them. Each morning we would have to take some out of the freezer and thaw them just enough so that they would be firm, yet not too hard to slice on our Hobart slicer. Let me tell you if you are going to buy a slicer go with Hobart. Besides working at the Hero for a year and a half I also worked in a grocery store deli and I gotta say Hobart slicers rock! Anyway the meat would be sliced to about a 1/16th of an inch thick and then weighed out. The second ingredient wasthe onions. Man it sucked having to slick those onions. We used onions of some big yellow variety and usually would slice about 10 to 20 at a time depending on business levels. They would be sliced about 1/8th of an inch thick and then chopped a little with a big knife. After about the 5th onion my eyes would stop watering and I would just taste it in the back of my throat. This was the late 80's, early 90's and we didn't have to wear rubber gloves while preparing food. I think the whole time I worked there my hands smelled like onions, even when I wasn't at work. After a few hours at work your whole body would smell like cheesesteaks. I remember trying on shoes at Diamonds department store and the sales person said,"Oh man I smell food. Somebody's got something good!" Then I had to reply,"Ah no . . . that's just me." Third was provolone cheese. This was the only cheese we used, also sliced to about 1/16 of and inch thick. That and some garlic salt was everything in our basic cheesesteak. Sure we added all sorts of other stuff but that was the basic platform and a great classic sandwich. We used a big, flat, steel grill to cook on. I believe we set that sucker to about 350. We didn't use any oil but we did have a condiment type squirt bottle of water. A good scoop of onions would go on the grill (about 1/2 and 1/2 with the meat), I'd shoot some water into them and get some steam going, then slap the meat on top of that. Wait a few seconds, joke around, sprinkle some garlic salt and then go to work with the spatulas pulling the meat apart and mixing it with the onions. After this was cooked it would be pushed up into a neat little sandwich shape and the cheese would be added to the top. While the cheese is melting we'd breakout and slice the roll. Very important factor here. A good soft roll. The whole thing would be scooped up onto the bread and there you have it.

So my version at home was a pretty good imitation but not perfect. We bought some meat that was sliced to about 1/4 of an inch then I sliced this into little strips with a knife. I think that was the deciding factor, the beef wasn't sliced thin enough. I cooked the whole thing up in my 12 inch cast iron skillet which worked pretty good. For the bread I ended up buying a french roll, cutting it in half length wise and again across the middle. This turned out real nice. The whole roll only cost me 99 cents and gave me 4 sandwiches. The outside was hard enough not to fall apart and the inside was super soft. Use the same day or it will be too hard.