In my continuing quest to write about baseball without actually writing about baseball, I’d like to welcome you to my new feature, Eat the Phillies. Yes, you too can Eat the Phillies! I will be creating a recipe for each of the Phillies eight position players, five starting pitchers, and two closers. These recipes will be made by me (with poorly taken pictures to prove it), and so they can definitely be made by you.
How exactly will I decide what kind of recipe to make for each player? That’s where the challenge lies. Not every player has a well-known affiliation with a much-loved frozen dairy product. Some players have well-known personalities that I could build a recipe around. (Example: Jimmy Rollins doesn’t know when or how to shut up.) Others have a playing style that I could use. (Example: Roy Halladay is intense! Chase Utley is intense!) And others…well, I’ll have to use their hometown for inspiration. (Yes, Jayson Werth’s hometown of Springfield, Illinois certainly lends itself to many, many food ideas!)
The first Phillies player that you’ll get to eat? Jamie Moyer! Why? Because it was pretty easy to put something together for him. Moyer, who is the oldest active player in Major League Baseball (I am required to mention whenever writing about Moyer), is native to Pennsylvania. He grew up in Sellersville, PA, and attended High School in Souderton, PA, both about an hour from Philadelphia. Though he played most of his career in places other than Philadelphia, and he has a foundation that helps children in distress, I chose to focus on the fact that he grew up about an hour from Philadelphia. Why? Because I came up with this fantastic recipe…
Jamie Moyer’s Throwback Cheesesteak Fondue
Get it? He’s old, and he’s from Philadelphia (ish)! Yes, that’s the intellectual level you can expect from these recipes. (WARNING: This is meant to be a deconstructed cheesesteak. An approximation of the real thing. It is not meant to be an authentic Philly Cheesesteak. When reading this recipe or actually making and eating the food, please keep that in mind. I don’t want to be brought in front of the Philly Cheesesteak Board and reprimanded for trying to pass off my recipe as “the real thing.”) So here’s what you need:
— Rib eye Steak (I go with a half-pound per person)
— Green and Red Peppers (at least one of each kind)
— 1 Onion
— Mushrooms (garden variety small white mushrooms are fine)
— Crusty Italian Bread (half a loaf per person)
— 1 Cup White Wine (or good beer)
— 1 Teaspoon Chopped Garlic (no need to do this fresh, you can get it from a jar)
— 8 oz Shredded Orange Cheese (buy a bag of pre-shredded cheese from the store. It can be any kind of orange cheddar. I used sharp.)
— 4 oz Processed Solid Orange Cheese (more on this later)
1. 45-60 minutes before you start prep work, place the rib eye in the freezer. You don’t want the meat frozen solid, just solid enough to easily cut.
2. Chop the peppers, onions, and mushrooms. All of these are optional accoutrements, but really tasty. When you cut up the veggies, don’t chop them up too small. Everything should be the size of a quarter or a silver dollar. And if chopping mushrooms makes you wince, most grocery stores sell pre-washed sliced mushrooms. You know, for the lazy.
3. Take the rib eye out of the freezer. At this point, it should be slightly frozen. The steak should at least be hard to the touch. Cut the steak into thin strips. This is all about personal preference, and how easily you can cut the steak without chopping your hand off.
4. Get out a skillet and turn on the burner to medium or medium-low. Pour in a bit of the oil (a couple of tablespoons worth, just use your best judgment) and briefly let it heat up. It should be loose when you swirl it around the pan. Put in the peppers and mushrooms only, and sauté them until slightly soft. The veggies shouldn’t be mushy, they should still have some bite to them. Take them out of the pan and set them in a bowl.
5. Keep the skillet on the burner and add a little more oil. Add the onions and sauté them just until they become brown around the edges and *slightly* transparent. This is key; if the onions are too mushy, they’re almost unusable. When they’re done, use a slotted spoon to put them in the same bowl as the other veggies. Try to leave as much of the oil in the pan as possible.
6. Still keeping the skillet on (and only adding oil as needed), put on the steak slices. Don’t try to jam them all on there. Fry them 4-5 at a time. This shouldn’t take long, probably about 60-90 seconds per side, depending on thickness (yes, be sure to turn them over once). If you’ve turned them over and there’s still some pink, don’t worry. The carryover heat will continue to cook the steak once it’s off the skillet and resting. You do not want the meat to be overdone. No amount of cheese can make overcooked meat more pleasant to eat.
7. Dice the bread into bite size pieces. Set them in a bowl. This is a good task for someone who wants to help but is not dependable in the kitchen. This is a task that you really can’t fuck up. You can also ask this person to cut up the steak into more bite size pieces, since strips are hard to easily fondue.
8. Take everything you’ve done so far and set it out. Here’s my spread. Isn’t it nice!?
9. Now, the fondue. I have a really nice electric fondue pot that my College Roommate of Awesomeness gave me for my birthday a few years ago. It is really, really handy. But if you don’t have a fondue pot, a saucepan will work just fine. I find that it makes for nice stagecraft to make the fondue right at the table (if you have a fondue pot), so if you’re doing that you should put all of your ingredients into separate bowls for easy use while you’re making the fondue. Fancy Chef People, like Anthony Bourdain, Alton Brown, and the Culinary Institute of America call this mise en place, or “everything in place.” If you are making this at a gathering, use this phrase while you are getting the fondue ingredients together, as it will impress everyone.
10. While picking out the cheese, I struggled with how to do this right. Cheese Whiz was the overwhelming favorite on Twitter, so at the store I purchased 8 oz of pre-shredded sharp cheddar and a jar of Cheese Whiz. (Did you know that a jar of Cheese Whiz is $4.50!? That’s absurd! Nearly $5 for processed “cheese” product!) However, as I was getting ready to make the fondue, I couldn’t do it. Aside from being concerned with the overall texture and taste of the fondue, I just couldn’t add Cheese Whiz to a fondue. So I hunted around my fridge to find a suitable replacement. I ended up using four sticks of Sorrento Snack Cheese, which is orange and certainly processed. Whatever cheese you use, it needs to be solid and sliceable, which means it will be meltable. If it’s already in a pseudo-liquid form (Whiz, EZ Cheese, some forms of Velveeta), you will have texture problems, as well as problems with keeping the fondue at a non-burning temperature. Fondue is meant to be a fun group activity, easy to do while watching a game or a movie. It is not meant to be an occasion to test out your kitchen fire extinguisher.
11. If you are using a skillet, turn the heat on medium or medium-low. If you are using a fondue pot…turn it on, I guess. Every fondue pot is different. I can’t turn mine on to more than 200 degrees (the absolute lowest setting) without the contents of the pot turning into a giant pile of burned cheese. Anyway, add the wine (or beer) and the garlic to the empty pot. Once it’s simmering, add the cheese a little at a time, whisking to incorporate. You want the cheese in the pot to be completely melted before adding any more.
12. If you’re struggling with texture issues, there are easy ways to resolve this. If your fondue is too loose or watery, you can either continue to simmer until the liquid has cooked out, you can add more cheese, or you can mix one teaspoon of cornstarch and one teaspoon of cold water in a small bowl, and then add that mixture to the fondue. That should thicken it up. If your fondue is too thick, try adding more wine (or beer, apple juice, stock, or broth). Only add more liquid a teaspoon at a time. The line between fondue and cheese drink is a thin one.
13. Now, everyone can get out their long forks and go to town. (If you are using a saucepan, get a hot pad and set the saucepan itself on the table. No need to transfer it to another bowl. Keeping the fondue in the saucepan also makes it easier to give it a quick warm-up on the stove if the cheese gets kind of thick and gloppy.) But how do you eat this to get the full effect?
- Skewer one vegetable (onion, mushroom, pepper).
- Skewer one piece of steak.
- Skewer one piece of bread.
- dip into cheese.
- Shove into open mouth.
Of course, if you have any questions about this recipe, don’t hesitate to ask. Coming up next on Eat the Phillies: A recipe to celebrate the return of closer Brad Lidge.