Saturday, May 21, 2016

Philly Chicken Cheesesteak with Portobello and Peppers

     A Chicken Version Of The Classic Philly Cheesesteak!
     When I was working as a chef in Philadelphia in the late 1970's, there was no such thing as a Philly Cheesesteak that was made with chicken instead of beef.  In fact, a customer that would have requested a Cheesesteak made with chicken probably would have had to deal with some old fashioned Philadelphia style criticism.  Back in those days, tradition was all that mattered.
     After working in Philadelphia for a couple years, I moved to Florida.  Chicken was the top choice meat of the health food craze back in the early 1980's.  If chicken was in a restaurant recipe, the item sold like crazy.
     Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches were practically unheard of in Florida back then.  I figured that running a Chicken Cheesesteak variation as a lunch special du jour just might be a good idea, because health conscious consumers preferred chicken over beef.  Oddly enough, the place where I first sold Chicken Cheesesteaks was at a French Café just south of Sarasota, Florida.  Needless to say, the sandwich was a hit and I actually sold all of the chicken breast meat that we had in the restaurant that day.      
     During the following 15 years that I cooked in Florida, I occasionally offered the Chicken Cheesesteak as a lunch special du jour at casual restaurants.  It did not matter if the restaurant was a French café, sports bar or an English pub.  Customers liked Chicken Cheesesteaks and this sandwich outsold nearly everything else on the menu!
     Many years later after graduating the Le Cordon bleu BA Degree program in 2015, I returned to the workplace.  After working a short stint as a kitchen manager at problematic hunting lodge resort in Wyoming, I decided to go back to Philadelphia to see what the job market was like.  The first job I accepted was at a very busy local Philadelphia tavern.  I created the soups and special du jour items each day, but of course since this tavern was in Philly, Cheesesteaks were the king of the hill.
     A lot had changed in Philly since the early 1980's and the local clientele now preferred some pretty wild gourmet Cheesesteak creations.  In fact, Chicken Cheesesteaks were on the menu at nearly every local restaurant.  The advent of frozen pre-portioned thin shaved chicken breast meat made it easy for taverns and steak shops to offer the Chicken Cheesesteak variation.      
     Now are several ways that a Chicken Cheesesteak Sandwich can be made.  One is to chop the boneless chicken breast before it goes on the griddle.  Another way is to finely chop and shred the chicken breast with two spatulas as it cooks on the griddle.  Last but not least, a portion of the frozen thin shaved chicken breast meat can be placed on the griddle and the meat can be cooked like a traditional Cheesesteak.  Either way, the Chicken Cheesesteak will be a crowd pleaser! 
     Philly Chicken Cheesesteak with Portobello and Peppers:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty Chicken Cheesesteak Sandwich.
     Blended olive oil is 50% olive oil and 50% vegetable oil.  Blended olive oil has a higher smoking point than regular olive oil, so it is the better choice for a hot griddle.
     The recipe photo example was made in 2010 and the Philly style frozen thin shaved chicken breast product for Cheesesteaks was not yet available.  The chunky style chicken breast meat in the photos is the same style as when I first made Chicken Cheesesteaks back in the early 1980's.    
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron griddle over medium heat.
     Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons of blended olive oil on the griddle.
     Place 6 to 8 ounces of thin sliced chicken breast meat on the griddle. 
     Grill the chicken till it is a little more than halfway cooked. 
     Step 2:  Add 1/3 cup of sliced small portobello mushrooms. 
     Add 1/3 cup of green bell pepper strips. 
     Grill the chicken and vegetables together till they are fully cooked.
     Step 3:  Lightly season with sea salt and black pepper. 
     Add 1 pinch of oregano. 
     Add 1 pinch of garlic powder. 
     Step 4:  Use a spatula to push the chicken and vegetables together in a mound shape on the center of the griddle. 
     Place 3 or 4 slices of provolone cheese over the chicken and vegetables. 
     Step 5:  Pour 1 ounce of water on the griddle around the ingredients.
     Let the steam melt the cheese.
     Step 6:  Split open an 8" to 10" sub roll.
     Use a long spatula to place the chicken cheese steak mixture on the sub roll. 
     Step 7:  Set the Chicken Cheesesteak on a plate. 
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of oregano on the sandwich ingredients. 
     Garnish the plate with Italian Parsley sprigs and pickles.
     *Persian Pickled Pink Turnips, Giardiniera, Sport Peppers and Sliced Banana Peppers are the pickles in the photos. 
     This fancy Philly Chicken Cheesesteak is delicious!

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