Harlem Chopped Cheese

Sam Icklan, Project Bread

School Lunch

School Lunch: Beef Tips

Harlem Chopped Cheese

This recipe is an adaptation of a legendary New York bodega sandwich. The chopped cheese is said to have been created at Harlem’s Blue Sky Deli (locally known as Hajii’s). One theory of its origin says that it’s based off of an Arabic sandwich, “dagha yamneeya,” essentially cooked chopped meat and vegetables served with Yemeni bread. You can change up the toppings by adding bell peppers, pepperoncini, or other veggies, or even change the meat to ground turkey or ground chicken.

The trick is to chop up the meat and let the cheese melt a little bit before serving – remember, it’s not a burger, and it’s not a cheesesteak, it’s a chopped cheese!

harlem chopped cheese

Yield: 100 servings


¼ cup vegetable oil
6 yellow onions, finely diced
10 ¼ lbs lean ground beef
¼ cup chicken bouillon seasoning
6 ¼ lbs sliced reduced-fat American cheese
4 ½ lbs medium tomatoes, sliced
7 ½ lbs iceberg lettuce, shredded
100 hoagie rolls, lightly toasted
2 cups ketchup
2 cups low-fat mayonnaise


  1. Using the tilt skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. When oil is hot and beginning to shimmer, add onions and sauté until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add beef and chicken bouillon seasoning to tilt skillet, stir well and cook until no longer pink.
  2. Place sliced cheese on top of beef mixture, and using spatula, chop cheese into the meat. Allow to melt and immediately remove from heat.
  3. To serve, prepare hoagie rolls with 1 tsp each ketchup and mayo. Scoop 2 oz. of beef and cheese filling onto the rolls and top with ½ cup shredded iceberg lettuce and 2 slices of tomatoes. PRO TIP: Wrap tightly in deli paper before cutting in half to keep all the good stuff together!

USDA Requirement

2 oz. meat/meat alternative

2 oz. grain equivalent 

Nutritional Information

Calories 378 calories  Saturated Fat 5.4 g Sodium 638 mg Carbohydrate 39.7 g

* nutrient data and allergen information may vary depending on the specific ingredients and equipment used in your location.

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