Why in the hell can’t you find a Chopped Cheese anywhere west of the Appalachian Mountains? This is something that’s bothered me for a while. Fortunately for you, and the rest of America, I have a platform to complain about it and inform the masses. Listen, I am well aware that this started as a hyper-regional creation in the New York bodegas. With that said, the story of the Philly Cheesesteak isn’t any different, yet you can find that sandwich at every “American” restaurant you go to.
What is a Chopped Cheese?
If you’re someone who hasn’t taken a trip to the East Coast, I won’t blame you for not having tried a chopped cheese yet. I will, however, ridicule you for being an uninformed soul with no culture. There are PLENTY examples of these in the media and being posted online constantly. If you haven’t even HEARD of it, you simply haven’t been paying attention.
This ELITE sandwich is made from the exact same ingredients as a burger. The only difference is that it’s chopped (if that wasn’t obvious already) and thrown on a hero roll instead of a bun. If the restaurant you’re at has smash burgers, they have a flat top. Which means they can make a chopped cheese. If they have all that and still choose not to offer one, they’re IDIOTS. I’m sorry, but the truth hurts and there are A LOT of idiots out there.
Even the best chopped cheese takes no time at all to make, is harder to mess up than a burger, and has insane profit margins even when sold on the cheap. It’s a win-win for everybody involved. There is a reason that every bodega from Boston to Richmond has one of these available at all hours of the day. That being said, if you want the best, you get it in New York. Yes, that’s pretentious, but it’s a fact.
How to Make a Chopped Cheese
Step 1: Bread
Are you an over-achiever? Bake yourself some hero rolls. Lazy? Me too. Just go buy some. Don’t have any hero rolls, specifically? THAT’S FINE! Quit freaking out and get a hoagie or kaiser roll. It’ll still be great. With that said…if you try to make this with ciabatta, you deserve nothing but pain and sadness in life. Like Vikings fans.
Step 2: Veg
Thinly slice and dice a white or yellow onion. You’ll be adding this to the griddle with the beef later. Shred some ICEBERG lettuce, very thinly. Let me re-state that…as thin as you were going to shred that lettuce, cut that in half. If you use anything other than iceberg, turn yourself in to the authorities right now. It is, without a doubt, THE supreme lettuce option. Finally, get some tomatoes sliced up. Again, if you can’t see through these, they’re not thin enough. So help me god, if you don’t salt your tomatoes when you cut them…I will find you.
Step 3: Beef
Pre-Formed Burger? Perfect. Loose ground beef? ALSO PERFECT. Just make sure it’s NO LEANER than 80-20. Get your griddle, flat top, pan, or whatever you’re cooking with nice and hot. Add the tiniest amount of oil you can think of. I know you want to use butter, but you can’t. If your pan is hot enough to do what we’re trying to, butter is gonna burn. Throw your beef down and DO NOT TOUCH IT. 3(ish) minutes of undisturbed time to get a nice crust. When it releases itself from the pan, then and only then can you flip it, add the onions, season that sucker, and get to chopping.
Step 4: Cheese
American is THE choice here. Not provolone. Not cheddar. Don’t even think about adding swiss or gouda. This is a blue collar sandwich, treat it like one. After you’ve flipped and chopped your beef to your preferred consistency (slightly chunkier than the ground beef you’d use for “tacos”) slap on a healthy amount of cheese and let it melt.
Step 5: Assembly
If you prefer a little more texture, toast your bread. Should you want a more traditional approach, drop your split roll over your meat as it is finishing and steam it. When done to your liking but BEFORE you add your meat, slather it with mayo and ketchup. This is non-negotiable. If you don’t like either of those, grow up. You don’t get an opinion here. Then comes the meat/cheese combo, followed by the lettuce and tomato on top. Ideally you’d wrap this up nice and tight to keep it from spilling everywhere as you eat it, but I’m not going to force you to go buy sandwich wrapping paper just for this. Just know, it’s definitely not a car-friendly option.
A Cultural Epidemic in Minnesota
The worst part about living in Minneapolis is the fact that our sports teams offer nothing but sadness and humiliation. The SECOND worst thing is that street meat vendors and traditional bodegas simply don’t exist. Hell, we BARELY have the single-slice pizza shops and we don’t even treat THOSE right. I’m not sure that we’ll ever see the Chopped Cheese offered up the way it’s meant to be enjoyed. A late night meal after the bar to soak up some of the libations or hungover on the morning walk back to the dive bar where you left your car/card is elevated to a blissful experience with one of these in hand. Not having that option while knowing it exists simply makes me sad and embarrassed. I guess it is just like our sports after all.
The Definition of Beauty
Despite my persona on
If I didn’t paint a pretty enough picture by waxing poetically about the Chopped Cheese in writing, take a look at these phenomenal examples and decide for yourself.
I’ve been hit by cars three times, which is an indication of how stubborn I am.
I write about everything across the board, but focus on Hockey and the pain that is Minnesota sports.
Argue with me on Twitter: @venividiveech