What makes the perfect cheesesteak?
The second key ingredient is the meat. Just because it's listed second does not mean that it’s not as important as the bread, because it absolutely is. To achieve cheesesteak perfection you’ve got to use the perfect meat.
At POP’s, the meat comes in what is called “commodity style”. This means that it is very thinly sliced. It comes in 10 lb boxes and there are two stacks in each box. There are roughly 130-150 slices per stack.
The steak is sliced extremely thin. It is not much thicker than 2 or 3 sheets of paper. The secret to Philly steak meat is in the way the steak is sliced.
There are a number of different types of meat that can be used. We use sirloin steak. Some people serve a ribeye product. The reason we don’t use ribeye is because the ribeye contains a streak of gristle, and while we make every effort to serve the perfect cheesesteak, no one can guard against serving that piece of gristle now and then. That's why we use sirloin, which has no gristle. If you ever bite into a piece of that gristle from a ribeye steak sandwich, you may never want another cheesesteak. There are places in Las Vegas who serve ribeye and invariably, if you eat enough cheesesteaks there you will catch one with the gristle in the ribeye.
Our meat is chunked, formed, tumbled, marinated, and flash frozen prior to shipment from our vendor in Philly. POP's has a special marinade specification which we require of our supplier in Philadelphia. POP's meat is cut in Philadelphia, marinated to our exclusive and propritary marination in Philadelphia, packaged in Philadelphia, then shipped from Philadelphia. Again, an extensive, but authentic process.
Slicing is extremely important. The steak can not be completely frozen, nor can it be thawed. The specific razor thin slices are the result of properly slicing the steak in the exact semi-frozen state.
The marinating process is another important aspect in serving the best and tastiest cheesesteaks. POP's actually goes through a dual marinade process prior to shipping. Once received and cooked, we complete the process with a third marination, all of which are customized to POP's exact specifications.
Not all cheesesteaks are created equally, nor do they all taste the same because the meat is not prepared the same way. It may not be the same meat. It may not be same quality. It may not be the same cut. The most famous cheesesteak company in Philadelphia uses Australian beef. At POP's, we only use the finest American raised beef.
Our standard serving size is 8+ oz; however, we don't weigh our beef on scales as do most other restaurants. POP’s employees are encouraged to eyeball and feel the weight of the beef and to always over-estimate, which is kinda the old way of doing things. POP's grill masters are very experienced, so they can get the right amount of meat into the sandwich so that it looks right, tastes right, feels right and satisfies. Umm, umm, umm, oh so delicious!
The meat is cooked at 350 degrees, then maintained for periods of 15 to 20 minutes. When the cheesesteak is ordered, it is pulled from the marinade and re-heated on the grill to the perfect serving temperature. Remember, it was only cooked 15 to 20 minutes ago and placed into the final marinade.
It’s very important that the meat goes through the final marinade process. Something to keep in mind; most steaks are not marinated, while others have varying levels of marinade. Still others have different types of marinade. So, you have to find the one that you like best. We found the one we like, and our customers really enjoy. That’s very important, to you and to us!
Another commonly used steak is called the "breakaway". We don’t prefer these, and we don’t serve them at POP’s. It’s a convenience item, and generally people who serve them don’t serve a lot of cheesesteaks in their restaurant. They can be kept frozen until they go on the grill and once there, they are guaranteed to fall apart and become semi-steak looking within 90 seconds. They look like a little tiny steak when they are on the grill. If you observed them being prepared, you would see how they fall apart and are just not the quality, care, and taste of the steaks we prepare.
Because POP's serves the favored commodity style of steak, which is a flat, paper thin steak, we employ the “hold and push” technique in order to pull the steak apart for better consistency, as well as, ensuring as little bruising of the meat as possible. If you go to a cheesesteak restaurant and you hear the spatula going, “Chop! Chop! Chop! Chop! Chop!”, and clanging against the grill, then you should question whether you should order their cheesesteak because with every chop the meat is being bruised. Our push pull technique assures you don't hear “Chop! Chop! Chop!”, but more importantly, an unbrusied, better tasting cheesesteak sandwhich.