RECIPE: For weeknight cheesesteak, skip the actual steak

Weeknight Cheesesteaks don't have slices of steak, but you can still enjoy a beefy/cheesy taste. (Henri Hollis for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Weeknight Cheesesteaks don't have slices of steak, but you can still enjoy a beefy/cheesy taste. (Henri Hollis for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Henri Hollis

Credit: Henri Hollis

When I am craving a hamburger but don’t want to go through the effort of making patties and paying close attention to doneness, I make something akin to a Philly cheesesteak.

And before any native Philadelphians read the below recipe and scoff — I know that this is not exactly the real thing. For starters, I don’t use sliced steak; any day that I am not willing to shape a hamburger patty is not a day that I am willing to painstakingly thinly slice a steak. Ground beef (preferably 85% lean chuck) will work just fine for this weeknight version.

Start by quickly cooking sliced onion and bell pepper in a ripping hot skillet; you’re looking for the vegetables to just start to soften and char around the edges. Next, crumble the beef over the vegetables, but don’t turn the heat down. Liquid released from the beef will steam the vegetables, preventing them from burning, and the beef’s rendered fat will help it to brown. A few minutes and a stir or two later, the beef and vegetable filling is ready for cheese. I like provolone in my cheesesteaks, but you can use any mild, melty deli cheese. Lay several slices over the top of the beef so it forms a warm, cheesy blanket over the meat.

Once the cheese is melted, all that’s left is to scoop the cheesesteak mixture into toasted rolls. Hoagie rolls work well, as do soft Italian loaves, sliced into 4-to-6-inch-long segments. Serve with salad and plenty of napkins.

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Keep dinner simple with Weeknight Cheesesteaks. (Henri Hollis for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Keep dinner simple with Weeknight Cheesesteaks. (Henri Hollis for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Henri Hollis

Credit: Henri Hollis

Weeknight Cheesesteaks
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • 1 pound (85% lean) ground beef
  • 6 deli slices provolone cheese
  • 4 hoagie rolls, split
  • On the side: Mixed green salad
  • Heat a broiler to high with the rack in the second-highest position.
  • Coat the bottom of a large, preferably cast-iron or carbon steel, skillet with the oil and place over high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to soften and char, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt.
  • Crumble the beef over the vegetables in an even layer, season with salt, and then let cook, undisturbed, until juices begin to pool on the top of the beef and most of the meat is no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Give the beef and vegetables a quick stir, then continue to cook until the beef is fully cooked through, another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lay the cheese slices out in a blanket over the beef mixture and let melt, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  • Meanwhile, while the meat is cooking, toast the bread, cut-side up, under the broiler.
  • When the cheese is melted and bread is toasted, use a spatula to divide up the meat mixture and place in rolls. Serve with salad on the side. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 620 calories (percent of calories from fat, 40), 44 grams protein, 51 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fiber, 28 grams total fat (11 grams saturated), 99 milligrams cholesterol, 1,231 milligrams sodium.

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