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Photograph: Noah Fecks

Food Envy at Time Out Market: Pat LaFrieda cheesesteak

Written by
Rocky Rakovic

Welcome to Food Envy, where we’ll highlight different dishes from Time Out Market New York that we think you’re going to love—partly because we do. This week, a killer cheesesteak from Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors

A cheesesteak is not something 97% of us make in our home kitchens (that number would be higher but Steak-umms are a disappointment on a hoagie roll). When we were curating our own going-out spot, Time Out Market New York, we knew we needed a damn amazing cheesesteak. Who did we think of? The first name in red meat: Pat LaFrieda. Talk about a sandwich that would pry you away from your friends. Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors makes a Black Angus cheesesteak that you will want to consume alone in the corner lest your buddies ask you for a bite. 

LaFrieda’s cheesesteak is all steak and all sizzle. Think about it, while the best part of eating a porterhouse is the pink middle (unless you are a lunatic who orders it past medium rare), most of the flavor comes from the seared sides. Well, this is just seared sides—consider the cheesesteak the burnt ends of northern American cuisine. The fat melts through the meat onto the griddle, then shoots back up into the meat and explodes on contact, like a salty delicious birdshot. 

Your taste buds crave five different pleasures; the fat and red meat handle 1/5th of them with their slight saltiness. The other four are tantalized by the unsung hero of LaFrieda’s cheesesteak and caramelized onions. Give a minute to consider the caramelized onion: through the cooking process the soft middle of the slices have leached sugar,  adding a sweetness (check), the parts that get a little too burned are bitter and a touch sour (double check) and layering all of the flavors is a bonafide umami bomb.  

Recall the nights as a child when you were young and fell asleep on the couch, only to stir for a minute when your mom pulled a blanket over you to keep you warm? Well, LaFrieda does that to his cheesesteak, his baby, by layering cheese over the top of the steak and onions. The American cheese locks in the flavors of the good stuff and not only adds a veil of creaminess, it changes the texture of the entire sandwich from dry to wonderful.

Oh, and the bread. If the cheese is the blanket then the bread is the warm hug from your mother. The bread is crunchy on the outside and then when you bite into it, nicely spongy. There’s a slight tang to the roll that acts as a palate cleanser before getting to the filling. And you’ll want to continue getting to it.

RECOMMENDED: Guide to Time Out Market New York

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