My bracket belongs in the trash basket, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on March Madness. Or at least not on March Madness Munchies, and feeding my frenzied friends during the Sweet Sixteen of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament later this week. A sentimental streak tends to color many of our team picks as we put together our bracket, just as it affects our list of favorite foods. In that spirit, I’m routing here on out for La Salle, the lowest ranking team left – and for its hometown Philly cheese steak sandwich as our meal of choice.
La Salle is the North Philadelphia Catholic university that was ranked so low they were one of four teams (out of 64 total) that had to play the "first round" of the tournament. But they've beaten James Madison, Kansas State and Ole Miss, and they're headed off to the Staples Center for their next game, against Wichita State (another Cinderella, actually, but not quite as tattered at a #9 seed). In honor of La Salle's Philadelphia roots, how about a round of cheese steaks for all?
There are endless variations on the cheese steak, and lives spent perfecting or searching for the perfect one, but let's start with this recipe from the admittedly non-Philadelphian but very friendly southerner, Emeril Lagasse.
2 fresh Italian sandwich rolls or Kaiser buns, split in half crosswise
1 white onion, thinly sliced
1/2 large green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 pound rib-eye steak, very very thinly shaved or sliced
1/3 pound thinly sliced white American cheese, or Provolone cheese OR 4 ounces melted cheese whiz
Ketchup, optional topping
Italian pickled peppers, accompaniment
Heat a cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. When hot add the oil, onions and bell peppers, and cook, stirring, until caramelized, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Push off to 1 side of the griddle.
Add the meat to the hot pan and cook, stirring and breaking up with the back of 2 metal spatulas, until almost no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Mix in the Sauteed vegetables. Top with cheese slices and melt. Spoon the cheesy meat mixture into the warm buns and serve immediately with condiments of choice or Put the meat in the bun and dip the spatula in the cheese whiz and then wipe the spatula down the inside of the bread.