Christmas Sephilly Cheesesteaks

If they gave awards for ridiculously belated blogging, I may actually win a prize for this one.  I am writing you today on behalf of my Christmas Eve 2011 feast.  That’s right. Deal with it. I explained before that I got eaten up by my Master’s program, and the last few miniscule crumbs left on the plate were parsimoniously eked out to my friends.  Random internet strangers who find my blog through search engines were left to rummage through my archives, if they managed to stumble across me.  To those of you who actually follow my blog (there’s like ten or twelve of you now, and you guys are awesome.  Seriously, super flattered), I apologize rather insincerely and offer up the goods, finally.

First, a little backstory.  What the hell do cheesesteaks have to do with Christmas? Or Seville, for that matter. Lonely Americans, that’s what.

This was my second Christmas in Seville.  This year I had planned on going back home (it takes about twenty four hours all told), but then I had a final presentation for my Master’s at 9 PM on the 23rd of December.  Not cool.  Even if I wanted to shell out the $2400 that the airlines wanted to travel through Christmas Eve, the earliest I could possibly arrive at my family’s home would be about 6 PM on Christmas Eve – smack in the middle of my first round of celebrations.  Then – I know from experience – I would promptly sleep 18 hours and miss round two.  As much as I love my family and love Christmas, for me it’s really the run up that’s important.  The cookie baking, for example.   And I didn’t really want to blow that much to miss Christmas anyways.

No problem, I have friends here who would gladly take me in.  Christmas Day I would spend with the family whose little girls I teach English, and Christmas Eve I would get sucked into one of my roommates’ families.

Or not.

At the last minute, one of my roommate’s found out that her whole family would be going to Granada, and as my other roommate was her boyfriend, so was he.  Oops.  As my other friends filtered out of the city to join up with their own sets of plans, I ended up staring down a very lonely few days.  After pouting for awhile, I decided that best thing to do was be proactive: I set up Desa’s Christmas Halfway House for Abandoned Americans.

A dramatic name for a small party of three, but it helped make us feel more festive.  My friend and coworker Dan came over with another friend of his, and together we planned an epic Christmas Rescue.  Since it was only going to be us three, we could do whatever the hell we wanted, and so we decided to indulge in revoltingly American pastimes, lightly seasoned with the best of Spain. That ended up being:

Super fancy hors d’oeuvres

Super cheap lambrusco (Italian sparkling wine.  2 euro a bottle cheap)

Classic Christmas Movie Marathon (the cartoon Grinch, Charlie Brown, Elf)

and Philly Cheesesteaks.

Yes, I only had two good champagne flutes.

I was in charge of the fancy hors d’oeuvres – high quality jamón ibérico cut that day laid over honeydew (I had no toothpicks) and crostini: lemon pepper goat cheese with cucumbers, and salmon mousse.  And cookies, of course.

And here, five hundred words later, the uninteresting reveal: we made cheesesteaks because Dan is from Philadelphia.  (Pause so everyone can let a disappointed ‘oh’ escape).  He’d been dreaming about them for a month or so, and kept waxing particularly lyrical over a buffalo chicken cheesesteak that you can’t get outside of Philly.  My response for months had been…why don’t we just make them ourselves?  As I always do when confronted with American cravings in Seville.  I even had a gigantic bottle of Frank’s Red Hot, so we had the genuine buffalo sauce at hand.

Christmas Eve ended up being a blast, and the cheesesteaks were wonderful.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have written this post. Just one more non-food-related side note before we get messy.  We were quite drunk by the time we made the first round of classic cheesesteaks, and absolutely trashed by round two: buffalo.  So the pictures are a little…off.  I have edited out the least appetizing ones. But the subject choice and composition were completely influenced by grocery store sparkling wine.  Yes, I did end up drunk texting that night, but I am luckily an affectionate drunk, and the time zone was on my side – the recipients were awake.  No one cut themselves, no one got burnt, and the food was wonderful.  I had an awful amount of dish-washing to do by hand the next day, but that’s where the name of this blog was born.  Always nice to get back to your roots. Let’s do this.

Oh, and I’m pretty sure about the amounts I’m giving here – I analyzed the pictures afterwards, but again, lots of cheap wine.  (But not quite THIS much).

Philly Cheesesteaks

4 soft Italian rolls (or equivalent breadstuff)

1 lb beef fillets

1 onion

at least 4 slices of melty, white cheese (we used semi-curado because that’s what we have here.  I’d go with provolone)

Oil for cooking

IMPORTANT: Don’t cut the roll all the way through, or you will be wearing your cheesesteak sooner than usual.

Now: all cheesesteak purists stop right there.  I know it should be thinly shaved meat.  Dan advises all that if you are in the Philadelphia area, you can buy it already prepped.  But I am only a snotty food purist when it conveniences me, and that is not now. So just suck it up. These are Sephilly cheesesteaks – the closest we could get, and damn good.

Slice the meat as thinly as possible into small strips.

Lighting is also weird, because it was night and we only had the weak fluorescent bulbs that my old apartment could shudder on.

In the meantime, dice the onion and sautee in a tablespoon of oil or so over medium high heat until just turning golden brown.  Set aside.

In the oniony oil that you now have, sautee the beef and salt lightly.

Stop stirring so damn much for a moment, Dan, I have to take a damn picture!

When it’s just finished cooking, add the onion back in and the cheese.  Let the cheese melt and mix thoroughly. Spoon into rolls.

Top with ketchup. Eat your cheesesteak.

We served it with a green salad to feel healthier since we were all going to have two cheesesteaks, and I took bizarre closeups of it.

Seriously, what is up with this picture. It’s like I wanted to be IN the salad bowl.

Then we were all overly amused by the Spanish legal drinking age on our beers. Cruzcampo, because it’s probably illegal to drink anything else in Seville.

Insert overly dramatic laugh-comment about how this is “So Spain!”

Moving on.

Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteak

4 soft Italian rolls

1 lb chicken, cut into tiny strips

1/3 c butter or margarine

1/2 c Frank’s Red Hot sauce

Blue cheese dressing….for dressing.

This’ll do for the chicken texture.

Prep the buffalo sauce.  This is hard.  Ready?  Melt butter in a pan.  Add hot sauce.  Stir.

I deleted the four or five pointless pictures I took of a messy pot of hot sauce. You are welcome.

Another warning:

This is way too much blue cheese dressing.  Dan was attempting to recreate a memory from a few years back and we overshot the blue cheese.  Don’t spread it on the bun like this – it will completely overpower your sandwich.

Cook the chicken up in a large saucepan.  When it’s finished, add the hot sauce and cook for a few minutes to thicken slightly. It also gives the chicken time to soak up the buffalo sauce.

Not enough sauce. HOLD STILL DAN, I SAID.

Just pour it all in. That’s it.

Spoon into rolls.

Spoon about a tablespoon or so of blue cheese on top, according to taste.

Correctly put together.

These suckers are messy as all get out.  But they are absolutely delicious. Really simple and really bad for you.

Hope it was worth the wait.  I know I’m going to go back and make me another one of these.


1 Response to “Christmas Sephilly Cheesesteaks”

  1. 1 Susan A. May 2, 2012 at 1:37 am

    Mouth watering like a St. Bernard. I visualize adding green peppers and mushrooms. These look really, really good!

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Hey, I'm Desa. I've been bouncing between the Pacific Northwest and Sevilla, Spain in the last few years and from tiny apartment to tiny apartment. I cook mainly for one, which means some potentially boring meals, but here I'll be sharing the food that excites me. Feel free to offer suggestions, commiseration, or desires. And thanks for coming by!


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