What do you call it when you cross two of America’s favourite sandwiches to create a saucy, cheesy flavour explosion slathered onto a burger bun? A Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes, of course. This delightfully delicious (and messy) hybrid sandwich includes the saucy ground beef and burger bun that are the soul of a Sloppy Joes, but also brings on board the mushrooms, green peppers, onions and gooey cheese of a classic Philly Cheesesteak. Since a Philly Cheesesteak often calls for a high-quality cut of beef (a rib eye steak to be precise) and also takes a bit of time and effort to shave into the thin pieces needed, a hybrid Sloppy Joes version is a quick and easy alternative, since ground beef is usually pretty easy to find. Similarly, if you’re in the mood for a Sloppy Joes but don’t have some of the key spices or molasses you need for that classic sweet and savoury zip, there’s a convenient shortcut to an equally delicious meal – with the added bonus of melted cheese. What’s not to like?
Before having a look at what makes a Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes, let’s first see what each of these famous American sandwiches separately bring to the table. Hailing, of course, from Philadelphia, the Philly Cheesesteak starts with thinly sliced rib eye steak, a tender and nicely marbled cut of beef, which is then grilled and alongside diced green peppers, onions and sliced mushrooms. Once the mix is nicely cooked, it is covered in the cheese of choice, often provolone or a processed cheese sauce. Once the cheese melts and stirred through to create a thick gooey mix, the whole thing is slipped onto a long (never round) hoagie roll. To this day, the sandwich is a Philadelphia icon.
A Sloppy Joes, meanwhile, is a straight-ahead sandwich consisting of ground beef and tomato sauce on a hamburger bun. While it seems simple enough, the real magic happens in the sauce, which includes several spices, ketchup, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and molasses, making for a hugely satisfying, full flavour in every juicy bite. Although it is closely related to a hamburger, the ground beef is kept loose and is instead bound together by the rich saucy blend. The beef should also be slow cooked for the right texture and proper depth of spices.
If you’re intrigued as to how these two beloved sandwiches can come together in a glorious, messy meal, check out this easy-to-follow recipe:
How to Make Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes
Start by heating up a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan, preferably extra virgin olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add a pound of ground beef, using a wooden spoon or a spatula to break it apart and make sure there are no large chunks – you want to have a nice even texture.
Next, add a finely diced medium onion and a chopped green pepper to the beef, stirring often and letting the vegetables cook until they are tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Once everything is nicely softened, tip out any excess liquid from the pan or scoop it out with a spoon.
Take a cup of beef broth and ¼ cup of your favourite steak sauce and add them to the pan, mixing well to combine and bringing everything to a boil. Turn the heat down and let the mixture continue to cook until it starts to thicken.
While the sauce is simmering, take 4 split hamburger buns and butter the insides, before putting them face down in a separate, hot pan. They should continue to toast until they are nicely crispy and golden brown.
Once the sauce has reached a nice, thick and bubbly consistency, take 4 slices of Provolone cheese (another cheese like mozzarella or cheddar will do, but Provolone is best) and lay them evenly across the top of the mixture in a single layer. When the cheese has melted, you’re ready to put together your Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes! Simply spoon a generous portion of the cheesy meat mixture onto a bottom burger bun, place the bun on top and serve. Be sure to have plenty of napkins available on the side!
A bit more about the Philly Cheesesteak...
The most common origin story for the Philly Cheesesteak begins in 1930, when local Philadelphia hot dog vendor Pat OIivieri decided to try something new and tossed a healthy portion of finely chopped steak onto his grill. A few passersby and local cab drivers liked the look of the new sandwich, and Olivieri soon had a steady roster of regulars. By 1940, Pat and his brother Harry had opened a fully-fledged restaurant at the spot where their modest hot dog stand once stood, and Pat’s King of Steaks was born. To this day, it remains one of the city’s most famous snack bars.
Of course, a specialty so proudly and so closely linked to a city is always going to be the subject of great debate when it comes to the perfect iteration. So why not check out some of these delicious versions, and decide for yourself which one looks like the best.
A bit more about the Sloppy Joes
Interestingly, the Sloppy Joes can also trace its history back to the year 1930, when (legend has it) a cook in Sioux City, Iowa decided to add a thick tomato sauce to a 'loose meat' sandwich, which is still a local specialty in the Midwest today. Because it’s a relatively inexpensive sandwich and involves ingredients that are usually easy to find, Sloppy Joes have for generations been a popular choice among children and have long since been a firm fixture on cafeteria menus across the United States. That said, Sloppy Joes can also be a great vehicle for creative extra toppings and delicious sides, and you can start here for some tasty ideas.
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