John and I both grew up a short drive away from Philadelphia—John just across the Delaware in New Jersey, and I on the PA side of the same river, about 40 minutes north. So naturally, like many other Philly identifiers, we have opinions about cheese steaks. Whiz wit? (John's a Cheez Whiz guy, but I've always gone with a mix of sliced American and provolone.) Fried onions and peppers? (YES.) Mushrooms? (Yes for me, no for John.) Ketchup? (Obviously.) Mayo? (Never.)
And since I just can't seem to find interest in the hubbub over this weekend's Eagles playoff game—despite lots of very serious cram sessions—I decided to channel my Philly pride and create a pizzafied version of the classic cheese steak sandwich instead. Now that's something I can get excited about!
Feel free to customize your pizza according to your cheese steak preferences, but do me a favor and don't skimp on the meat. You want a steak with lots of marbling, so it won't dry out in the oven. For the same reason, it's important that you stir-fry the meat for no longer than instructed and top the pizza in this order: ketchup, then steak, then vegetables, and finally cheese. If the steak is on top when it goes in the oven, it will easily get overcooked.
Also, although this pizza can be made on a baking sheet or pizza pan, it's best on a baking steel or stone, where it can bake for less time at a higher heat.
Cheese Steak Pizza, two ways
- 1 pound boneless beef sirloin, rib eye, or NY strip steak
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 1 small yellow onion thinly sliced
- 1/2 green bell pepper thinly sliced
- 1/2 red bell pepper thinly sliced
- 4 ounces sliced mushrooms
- freshly ground back pepper
- 1 (14 to 16-ounce) ball pizza dough homemade or store-bought
- tomato ketchup
If going "Whiz wit"
- 2/3 cup Cheez Whiz
If using Provolone and American cheese
- 6 thin slices American cheese
- 6 thin slices provolone cheese
- Place your pizza stone or steel (if using) on an oven rack in the middle of your oven. If you plan to cook your pizza on a baking sheet, just place a rack in the middle of the oven (you do not need to preheat the baking sheet). Preheat the oven to 500°F (or the highest temperature your oven will allow, if using a pizza stone/steel) and let it heat up for at least 45 minutes while you make the dough and/or prep the toppings.
To make the toppings
- Put the steak on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes. You want it to be firm around the edges, but still give a little in the center. (This will make it easy to slice.)
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring every few minutes, until the vegetables are soft and just beginning to caramelize, 25 to 35 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl to cool; do not wipe out the skillet.
- Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a small skillet. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt, and saute until the mushrooms are tender and golden. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Take the steak out of the freezer and cut it into 1/8- to 1/4-inch-thick slices. Toss in a bowl with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, a big pinch of salt, and a grind or two of black pepper. Set the same cast iron skillet you used to cook the onion and peppers over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the beef and stir-fry for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes, just until the pieces are mostly cooked through but still pink in the center. (They will finish cooking on the pizza in the oven.) Immediately remove from the heat and transfer the steak to a plate.
To stretch or roll out the dough
- Place the dough on a clean work surface and, using your hands, gently stretch it into a 12-inch circle or square, making sure that it retains an even thickness throughout. Alternatively, use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 12-inch circle or square.
- If you’re using a pizza stone or steel: Dust a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet lightly with flour or cornmeal. Place the dough disk on the prepared peel.
- If you’re using a baking sheet: Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the dough disk on the prepared baking sheet.
To top the pizza
- Squeeze a spiral of ketchup onto the dough. Scatter the meat evenly on top, followed by the onions and peppers and the mushrooms.
- If you're making yours "wit Whiz," you're done topping for now. If you're making yours with provolone and American cheeses, arrange the sliced cheese on top, alternating slices of each until the entire pizza is covered.
To bake the pizza
- If you’re using a pizza stone or steel, 20 minutes before you are ready to cook the pizza, increase the oven heat to broil. Slide the pizza from the peel (or inverted baking sheet) to the hot stone or steel using quick shimmying movements. Broil the pizza just until the crust is golden and the cheese begins to brown in spots (if you're using the sliced cheeses), about 6 minutes. Using the peel or inverted baking sheet, transfer the cooked pizza to a cutting board. If you are making more than one pizza, allow the pizza stone or steel to reheat under the broiler for 10 minutes before you cook the next one.
- If you’re using a baking sheet, do not increase the oven to broil. Place the baking sheet on the rack in the middle of the oven and bake just until the crust is golden and the cheese begins to brown in spots (if using the sliced cheeses), about 10 minutes.
If you're making yours "wit Whiz"
- Scoop the Cheez Whiz into a glass measuring cup and microwave for about 1 minute, stopping every 20 seconds to stir, until it's melted and pourable. Drizzle the Whiz in a spiral over the cooked pizza just before slicing.