What in the world is a Philly Cheese Crepe? As you might expect, it begins with the classic Philly Cheese Steak, and takes off from there.
Moving from the south, where the previous two recipe posts found their origins, we now move to the American northeast, where few foods are as beloved – and taken as personally – as the Philly Cheese Steak. Its popularity extends far beyond its native Philadelphia. On Food Network, Michael Symon even featured competing versions on a recent episode of Food Feuds.
For anyone not familiar with it, a Philly Cheese Steak is a few simple ingredients - sliced grilled steak, grilled peppers (and sometimes onions), and cheese (usually provolone) on a long roll (“hoagie roll” to Philadelphia locals) – that somehow come together in a truly glorious way. Made properly, it’s enough to make the haughtiest sophisticate pump a raised fist and say, “yo!”
Today we look at a fun take on this classic culinary institution that I call the "Philly Cheese Crepe." Since authenticity is key to making a proper Philly Cheese Steak, you should begin by putting on the traditional cooking ensemble.
First, the crepe itself:
While crepes can be made right when you need them, they refrigerate or freeze well, so much time can be saved doing them beforehand. The all-purpose crepe I posted a few weeks ago will work for the cheese steak, but I tend to use it for fruit fillings and prefer a more savory version for the heartier cheese steak filling. You can make it using the all-purpose recipe, but with the following changes:
Instead of one cup of all-purpose flour, use ½ cup of all-purpose flour and ½ cup of wheat flour.
Add about two tablespoons of dried parsley and, if you like, two tablespoons of wheat germ to the batter.
Add additional water, a little at a time, to offset the added dry ingredients (parsley and wheat germ). This is best done by the texture of the batter (which should be like that of heavy cream), rather than by adding a pre-determined amount of extra water.
The above recipe makes eight to 10 crepes. Set aside the ones you need for the cheese steaks, and store the rest to enjoy at a future meal. They’re a great item to keep on hand.
To make filling for four crepes, prepare three-quarter pounds of thin steak as follows. (I like top round thin steak, the kind used for brasciole, but any thin steak will do.) First, as with any steak, dry the outside of the meat using paper towels to make it easier to brown. Apply mustard to each side as a rub to season and tenderize the steaks, then lightly rub each side with olive oil. Now you can cook the steaks using your favorite method – a grille pan is my weapon of choice, but if you’re more comfortable cooking the steaks another way, that’s fine too. Once each side is cooked – and, since they’re thin steaks, they’ll cook quickly, around three minutes per side on the grille pan – let them rest before slicing (as with any steak or roast) while you prepare the peppers and onion mixture.
Toss a couple of julienned peppers, a couple of chopped or julienned onions, and three or so minced fresh garlic cloves with enough olive oil to coat and a little salt and fresh ground black pepper. Cook them in the grille pan (if that’s what you used for the steaks, otherwise use any appropriate pan) until the peppers are tender and the onions are nicely caramelized. Then slice the rested steaks into thin strips and toss them well in a bowl with the cooked onions and peppers.
Now to construct the crepes:
Lay the crepes out on the counter and, along the center-line of each, put a slice of reduced-fat provolone that you’ve cut in half, placing the two halves end-to-end. Add some steak-pepper-onion mixture on top of the cheese, then put another slice of cheese (cut in half and placed end-to-end as with the first slice) on top of that. Fold each side of the crepe over, wrap it in foil, and let it heat in a 200 degree oven for ten to fifteen minutes.
Now serve it with some salad or fresh slaw, open up a Yuengling, and enjoy a lunch or dinner that’s easy to make, tastes great and is just a little unusual.
As always, for a notebook-ready, cookbook style copy of this recipe, just let me know and I’ll send it along.
Hope you enjoy this tasty twist on a great American tradition. Till next week, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)