Regional cuisine rules! Last week’s column was pasta from the region of Latvium, in central Italy. This week’s recipe brings us a little closer to home…like 90 miles away.
I’m talking about Harlem and The Bronx, and the wildly popular Chopped Cheese Sandwich you can now get in any bodega uptown.
A cross between a cheeseburger and a Philly Cheesesteak, it has the best of both worlds with ground beef patties chopped on the griddle together with onions and peppers and cheese — lots of cheese, then served with lettuce and tomato on a toasted hoagie roll. The Blue Sky Deli in East Harlem is credited with inventing the Chopped Cheese and these days just knowing what it is gives you a certain amount of street cred.
It could well be the most unhealthful, yet most delicious bar food this side of a Nashville Fried Chicken Sandwich. Everything in moderation, of course. Make sure you turn your hood, or crack a window because this generated a good amount of steam. If you like this, send me an email email@example.com and I’ll hit you back with the Nashville Fried Chicken recipe, you’ll love them both. Follow me on Instagram @robert.rabine
Chopped Cheese Sandwich
2 hoagie rolls, toasted
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 ounces ground beef, divided in half
dash salt and pepper
¼ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped mushrooms
2 slices yellow American cheese
¼ cup shredded yellow cheddar cheese
¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 ounces mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Rob’s Spicy Relish (recipe below)
Cut the hoagie rolls lengthwise leaving the bread hinged. Open the roll and butter both sides and toast them under your broiler until they are brown and set them aside.
Brush a heavy cast-iron skillet with the vegetable oil and set it over a high flame until the oil just begins to smoke. Form each patty into an oblong shape, dust each with the salt and pepper, then add them to the hot skillet, and pressing down on each with your spatula.
Weigh them down with another skillet and let them sear for two minutes to develop a nice crust. Flip the burgers carefully, turn down the heat and cook for a minute or so. Take your spatula and start chopping both patties on a cross-hatch pattern. At this point, add the onion and mushrooms and chop those into the meat. When the onions soften, start adding the cheeses one at a time and chop it into the meat, keeping the oblong shape. Continue to cook until the cheese is totally melted. Spread some mayo and relish onto half of the roll and top with shredded lettuce. Scrape all the meat and cheese together and drop it onto the lettuce. Add the sliced tomatoes and serve right away. Serves 2.
Rob’s Spicy Relish
½ cup Kosher dill pickles
¼ cup hot cherry peppers
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3 tablespoons chili sauce
Pulse all the ingredients in your food processor and refrigerate till needed. Yields ¾ cup.