Everyone in Philly argues about which cheesesteak is best, who slings the juiciest roast pork, and what burger wears the crown in Philly. One thing we all agree on, though, is our love for Chickie's and Pete's Crab Fries, and more importantly, the melty cheese dip that comes along for the ride.
The recipe discussion has raged on for years, and has appeared in some threads with as many as thirteen ingredients. Considering the food cost and intricacy involved in keeping a giant pot of that goo simmering in a kitchen like Chickie's, we were quite skeptical to say the least. Owner Pete Ciarrocchi has even leaked that it was made up of four cheeses, which we also figured was a red herring.
Recently, Eater HQ had a spot of luck, which led to a breakthrough in our tireless research. We ran into a guy at the bar who said he used to work the line at C&P's, and happened to be a little bit tipsy. Now, whether he was being honest about his employment history or not is a point of debate, but he did have an answer for our question as to what was in the cheese dip.
"It's just a block of American cheese and water to thin it out," he said. We were stunned, but it was entirely possible.
The toughest part of the equation was getting the consistency right, and in this case, better cheese was worse. We always messed with oils and whole milk, cream, and in one case cream cheese to smooth it out, but it never worked, and was still too thick. Also, the crappier the American cheese, the better it melts. And, if you let the Chickie's cheese dip sit, it forms that skin that shows up on grilled cheese made with the same stuff. Here's how we made it:
· a loaf of Land O' Lakes White American Cheese
In a 2 quart saucepan, bring two cups of water to a simmer.
Cut up the cheese loaf into 2 inch cubes and add them into the simmering water. Stir continuously. Allow the blocks to completely melt. Add as much cheese as desired, and just add more water in proportion to your cheese amounts. Continue to stir. Do not let the mixture boil, as it will break the cheese. Salt to taste (we didn't need any, as it was quite salty already).
That's it. It worked for us. Whether or not that guy truly worked the line at Chickie's is beyond us, but we sleep soundly knowing we can make that cheese sauce whenever we want. The recipe at C&P's that we really need to get a hold of, though, is the red sauce that comes with the mussels. We usually drink the contents of the bowl afterwards (not an exaggeration) and take some home with us, too. We're sure it's just a tad more complicated than this recipe.
· Chickie's and Pete's [Official]
· How DOes CHIckie's and Pete's Make That Heavenly Cheesey Goo Sauce? [Phoodie]