Updated: May 6, 2021
Philly steak-n-cheese eggrolls and coleslaw are a couple of side items that, at least to me, will forever be associated with Pittsburgh, PA, and from now on will be the standard that these two dishes are measured against should I ever try them anywhere else. I was able to bring the taste of my experience home and will very humbly and with respect to citizens of Pittsburgh, show you how to experience the deliciousness of Northern coleslaw & Philly steak-n-cheese eggrolls in your own kitchen.
As I mentioned in https://www.farmshedblog.com/post/spring-forward this wasn't a recreational trip. The architecture of Pittsburgh is amazing if you are interested, check out the photos from my trip on my Instagram account (Farmshedblog). I did some sightseeing in the vicinity of where we stayed and of course, you have to eat, so I was keen on visiting the local eateries. Oh man, and they did not disappoint! I missed these awesome flavors when I returned home and figured out how to make a couple of the side dishes that stood out the most to me.
Part 1 ~ Philly Steak -n- Cheese Eggrolls
"I never dreamed it could be this good"
Philly steak -n-cheese ANYthing is one dish I NEVER order here in the South nor do I even consider it. Maybe it has to do with that it perpetually sucks in my neck of the woods. It seems to be offered regularly enough, but it is never good. So naturally, I cringed when my friend ordered the Philly steak-n-cheese eggrolls hors d'oeuvreres with every bit of smiling confidence that this would be the most amazing thing of all time. When in Rome... My mind quickly assessed my location and reasoned that if anyone can make this dish taste amazing it has to be our neighbors up North and perhaps I should not dismiss it so quickly. As soon as the waitress set them on the table, the smell was so beckoning, resistance was futile. Oh my word, they were melt in your mouth amazing! *Plan a day ahead because the meat has to marinate overnight. Here is how you do it.
1 lb of sliced roast beef - Your grocery store deli is where you'll find this, just tell the butcher or person there what you need and they'll slice it for you. If asked if you want rare or well, choose rare. I like rare on my sandwiches anyway but in this case, you will be cooking it further in the skillet. You'll also want it sliced thin.
16 Provolone cheese slices (to equal 1/2 lb) - Also from the deli at your store. Make sure you tell them to slice them very thin. My butcher wasn't in and I had a young feller that sliced mine a little too thick...it worked though.
8 Eggroll wrappers - I found these in a specialty section in a cooler near the produce section of the grocery.
8 oz of Grated cheese (Parmesan or Gruyere) - I had some Parmesan (sprinkle version) on hand that I needed to use up and only used about 4 oz roughly. If chunky, it may be closer to 8 oz probably.
1 jar of Sir Kensington's Special Sauce - It is listed as being at my local Kroger, however, I couldn't find it. I did find it at Walmart though it was the Sir Kensington's Buffalo Ranch sauce. I couldn't tell the difference but DO get Sir Kensington sauce. It will really make this dream come true for you, trust me.
1/2 of a Red Onion
1 Egg (maybe 2 if needed)
1 TBSP Brown Sugar
1 TBSP White Wine Vinegar
1 TSP Hot Pepper Flakes - I used Cayenne pepper
Oregano - a dash
1/4 Cup of Coconut Aminos - This can be found in the Asian section of the grocery store. A substitute would be soy sauce. I'd never used or heard of Coconut Aminos but was able to find it. I like it much better than soy sauce.
1 small carton of Mushrooms - I used Shiitake and words can't express. Oysters would also be a great choice but any kind will do. If you find Shiitakes though, go for it.
1 TBSP of Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper - a dash
Prepare the Marinade
You'll do this the night before. You will also need a ziplock bag. I fretted because I couldn't find one until I realized the deli placed my roast beef in a ziplock bag. Yay! I just put the marinade in the bag it came in. Score! Grab a bowl and add the coconut aminos, brown sugar, white wine vinegar, hot pepper flakes, and oregano. Whisk it together until it is blended and pour it into your bag with the meat. Seal the bag and work it around until all the meat is covered then place it in the fridge overnight. If you think about it, you might turn the bag every now and then.
Making the eggrolls
First, you will need a bowl, chop the onion and the mushrooms and place them in the bowl. Add a dash of salt & pepper and work them together well with your fingers *Do wash your hands first, goes without saying really. What you'll do is put a small non-stick skillet on an eye at about medium heat (6-7) with a TBSP of olive oil. Focus on doing two at a time. Take a cup and break an egg in it. Also, have a plate ready lined with paper towels to set them on. Lay down a wrapper and layer it accordingly; a slice of provolone, meat, onion/mushroom mixture, a dab of sauce, grated cheese. Then roll it and dip your fingers in the egg and rub that over the seam to hold it together. When you have two rolls ready, place them in the skillet. It will take about 3 minutes on each side (all 4 sides). You'll want them a nice golden brown and then move them to the plate. While those cook, prepare a couple more and so on.
My first couple of ones was a little chunky so adjust accordingly, add less stuff so they will roll better, etc... After they all cook, allow them to rest a few minutes, then slice them into thirds or fourths. When you are ready to serve, put some sauce in a small bowl and heat maybe 30 seconds in the microwave. ENJOY!!!!
Part 2 ~ The Coleslaw
"It can't be better than Gran's, no way"
One thing everyone that can claim to be Southern can make to perfection is coleslaw. We are very particular about it and we all swear that ours is the best. Mine actually is though... We make it here in the south in two ways; either sweet or bitter and either with more mayonnaise or more mustard. I make it like my Gran, sweeter and with more mustard. However, I don't make slaw as often as I used to because I stopped eating mayonnaise. It is after all 100% fat and so there is no nutritional value at all to it. On top of that, nowadays it is made with soybean oil. This causes me to have really bad migraines to the point that my body will reject it in undesirable ways that I won't go into. During my trip though, I fell in absolute love with their Northern version of coleslaw! You see, it isn't made with mayonnaise at all. When I told my family about it, naturally they were skeptical, being the hard Southern tradition lot that they are. I pressed on and swore that I would convince them that there really is no comparison of the Northern vs Southern versions as to which is better. They are completely different experiences altogether. It's like you have a common base with a different outcome if that makes sense. Anyway, let's make some, so you'll see for yourself.
1 head of green cabbage
5 large carrots
Fresh ground pepper & a pinch of salt
1/2 TSP celery seed
1 TSP onion powder
4 TBSP sugar - I always use raw/cane sugar instead of the white version
1/2 Cup of apple cider vinegar - Do not substitute with white wine vinegar
1/4 Cup of vegetable oil - Do not substitute with olive oil
*Trust me and do not substitute the vinegar or oil. Taste is everything and the substitutes will alter the taste of this dish and it won't be the same.
*Also, make this right before you are ready to serve. It is best when it is nice and crunchy.
Let's do the thing
If you've made slaw before, this will be a breeze. You make it the same way, just with a different sauce. You'll need a large bowl. I have a cabbage/lettuce bowl with a lid, it was perfect for mixing the sauce because you put it in there with the lid and toss it around really well. Another thing you'll need is a grate. *How to tell a real farmhouse from a stylistic one... We actually use our grates, we don't hang them on the wall for decoration. God forbid... :) hahahahahahaha
Wash and core the cabbage, shred it, and put it in the bowl. Wash the carrots, clip the ends off and peel them. Then shred the carrots and add them to the cabbage. Take a small bowl and add the apple cider vinegar, vegetable oil, sugar, a dash of salt, several grinds of pepper, and the celery seed. Mix that up until the sugar is desolved. All you have to do now is mix it in with the cabbage and carrots and you are good to go.
"Oh my goodness, this is so good!"
I rounded out this experience by making some burgers with Cajun fries (fries sprinkled with Cajun salt). The burgers I made were on a Kaiser bun with lettuce, tomato, shiitake mushrooms, pepper jack cheese, & bacon. *When you make the burgers, while in the skillet, top with mushrooms and add a slice of cheese to hold them in place. Was this a hit with my diehard Southern traditional family? Hell yes, it was! Especially the coleslaw and eggrolls, they happily finished them up! I'd call that a big hit any day of the week.
These are both really simple recipes and I know your family and friends will love them every bit as mine does. I'd never made eggrolls and no doubt, I'll need some practice getting the size and shape right. The flavors were there though, and they turned out great. All in all, at the end of the day, that's all that counts.
Hats off to my Northern neighbors! Thank you for reading and have a fabulous week!