Last summer I threw a weekend party for about 20 people at my house. We made cheesesteak sandwiches, and everybody said they were the best cheesesteaks ever. The secret-I made my guests assemble their own sandwiches from an array of options, and consequentially provided the opportunity for individualized sandwich perfection. I recently revisited the idea and threw another party, and it was just as good the second time.
Serves about 20 people, with enough for seconds. Buy extra meat and buns if you have a hungry crowd-some people ate as many as four sandwiches last time.
5 lbs. Shaved Rib eye Saucy Note: Rib eye steak is the best meat for cheesesteaks, even if it’s a little pricey. Have your butcher shave it very thin-trust me, it is totally worth it.
40 French sandwich buns or hoagie rolls
5 bell peppers, sliced
2 onions, sliced
1 lb. sliced mushrooms
Au jus Saucy Note: Easy au jus is as simple as simmering some frozen ham or steak trimmings in beef broth and adding salt to taste. Simmer at least ½ cup of trimmings in 32-64 oz. beef broth, depending on how many people want au jus-you can always freeze it or save it for leftovers if there is extra.
Cheese Saucy Note: I serve a variety of sliced cheese, usually cheddar and provolone, and I make the following beer cheese recipe in my slow cooker-use a plastic liner unless you like scraping gummy cheese out of the crock though.
2 blocks Velveeta
2 cans beer Saucy Note: I like lighter beer for my cheese, but darker varieties can be delicious if you like a heavier beer flavor.
1 block cream cheese
¼ cup sour cream
2 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. salt
¼ Frank’s Red Hot sauce
Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on high simmer, covered. Once the golden blocks of cheese product begin to melt, turn the heat down to low and stir. Leave covered and stir occasionally-the cheese will stay good for hours.
Start the beer cheese first, following the instructions above. It takes 30-60 minutes for everything to melt, so plan accordingly.
Make the au jus. Simmer beef or ham trimmings in beef broth until slightly reduced and salt to taste.
Warm oven to 200°F. Place 3 servings bowls and a large serving plate in the oven after it preheats.
Sauté the vegetables just prior to serving the meal. I sauté them separately since not everybody likes all the vegetables, and they cook more evenly. Transfer them to the warm serving bowls in the oven and cover with foil.
Arrange the sliced cheese on a plate so people can easily access it. Put out plates and buns, and remove the vegetables and serving plate from the oven. Turn the oven to low broil and adjust the rack to the medium high position so people can toast their buns and melt cheese if they want.
At this point, everything should be ready, so it is finally time to cook the meat. Melt a couple tablespoons of butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Sear meat quickly in batches-the thin slices cook very fast. Transfer the meat to the warm serving plate as it finishes cooking. I usually cook at least half the meat, and then resume cooking once people have eaten most of the first batch.
Make sandwiches! My favorite is provolone, cheddar, AND beer cheese, plus onions, mushrooms, and hot sauce, all dipped in au jus. Salty (my husband’s code name) prefers a single piece of provolone with a stripe of hot sauce, and Shake eats hers with peppers, mushrooms, beer cheese, and extra extra hot sauce. I have also been known to mix au jus and beer cheese together for a super dip-this meal has no redeeming nutritional qualities, so you might as well enjoy yourself.