the short train to philly; or, why I microwaved filet mignon (philly cheesesteaks)


The final installment to sandwich week didn’t go well. (Neither did the second installment, if you recall.)

The cheesesteak recipe comes from Alton Brown’s Good Eats. The Food Network’s write-up of it wasn’t very clear, so I even rewatched the segment of the show where Alton makes them.

Of course, in the happy land of TV cooking, someone else takes your chunk of beef and pounds it into a sheet of beef. In the land of apartment cooking, you piss off the neighbors. And the husband.

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I only got my beef tenderloin steak down to about ½-inch thickness before my somewhat-ill husband beseeched me to stop with the pounding. I heated up my All-Clad stainless-steel skillet for a couple minutes on the highest heat possible, threw on my oiled steak, and rushed around the apartment turning on fans and opening windows before the fire-alarm went off. Notice that I didn’t say anything about salting the steak, which I forgot to do.

By the time I got back to the stove after trying to dissipate the smoke, the first side was turning fairly black. So I flipped the steak, then took the hot pan and stood outside to let the second side’s allotment of smoke disperse out there. When the pan got too heavy for me to hold anymore, I came inside and wrapped the steak in foil while I cooked up some onions.

After a few minutes, I unwrapped the and started cutting it up. And, it was totally uncooked on the inside. Yes, I realize that people eat steaks rare, but they don’t eat cheesesteaks rare. And that’s where the microwave came in. I’m so ashamed.

Makes 2 sandwiches

1 beef tenderloin steak, 6-8 ounces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced thin
2 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
2 hoagie rolls

Let the meat sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Pound the steak to ½-inch thickness. Season liberally with salt and pepper, and rub with 1 teaspoon of oil.  Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Cook until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Wrap the meat in foil. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the same skillet. Cook the onions over medium heat until browned.

Slice the meat into small strips. Divide evenly among the rolls. Top with any remaining juice from the meat, then onions and cheese. Wrap in foil for 10 minutes to let the flavors meld; serve.


  1. Sara Lavy says:

    Future reference – I’m pretty sure you can have the butcher at the grocery store pound your steak for you. I’ve never actually tried it, but I read they will. I’ve had the butcher cut up steak into cubes or strips for me and debone roasts. You just need to go by the meat section first so they have time to do it while you do the rest of your shopping.

  2. bridget says:

    Hmm…that’s a good idea. I definitely under-utilize the butcher.

  3. The Husband says:

    Ok, I first have to admit that I’m not a huge foodie. Meaning I basically like whatever is put in front of me and I have trouble discerning small differences in food. I was brought by a single mom who worked 2-jobs and was forced to feed us whatever was available, cheap, and quick. So I grew up with a palette trained on Steak-Ums, Froot-Loops, and Kraft Mac & Cheese.

    So basically anything Bridget makes for me tastes great! The philly cheese steaks were really good! Yes, the meat was burnt in one place and we had to open up all the windows and doors when the apartment filled with smoke. I’m just glad I didn’t accidentally hit her as I was swinging the door in and out while she was coming back in from the cold with the steamy pan in her hand.

    So far with Bridget’s cooking there’s basically good, and better. Since she said these Philly’s weren’t her best then I’ll call them good. I can’t wait for the ‘better’ redo!

  4. Sound’s like a great time, Bridget!

    In the land of apartment cooking, you piss off the neighbors. And the husband.

    You’re husband should feel grateful for you providing such excellent food. 😉

    The temptation is almost too much. Meat? Pounding? So many jokes, so inappropriate a place.

  5. The Husband says:

    Thank you Sid. I told her she made me sound all ungrateful, and she was like ‘oh no, nobody will take it that way’ (said in my best cute squeaky voice).

    And thanks for reminding me about all the innappropriate jokes I should be making!

  6. bridget says:

    Ah, thanks, Sid. We’re having cheesesteaks again tonight, and now I look forward to inappropiate jokes. Fantastic!

    And I was planning on doing the pounding (shut it!) before The Husband got home…but now maybe I’ll wait and we can see how grateful he really is!


  1. […] as Sara’s advice came a bit too late, in that I’d already purchased the steak for the next set of cheesesteaks, […]