Hello, and welcome back to Will It Casserole?, the column where I take your delicious concepts and re-imagine them as casserole creations. Today we are casseroling an iconic sandwich: The cheesesteak.
I’m going to get real for a moment: I was, at first, slightly trepidatious about taking on Philly’s favourite meat/cheese/bread combination. For one, though I love the people of Philly and their food, they’re kind of an intense bunch, and I didn’t want to make them shouty by choosing the wrong cheese. But after a few discussions, the Philadelphia delegates of Kinja couldn’t really agree on whether I should use American, Whiz, or provolone – so I decided to use all three.
I was pretty comfortable with this decision, until – after searching all three grocery stores in my vicinity – I couldn’t find any damn Cheez Whiz, only Easy Cheese. (Did I think about trying to pass it off as Whiz? Yes, but Cheez Whiz is hard to find in an aerosol can, and the spray pattern is noticeably different.)
Use Cheez Whiz if you can find it, and then make this glorious cheesy pile of awesome, if not a soft cheese of your preference can work too. Also, if you are firmly against any of these three cheeses, just omit one or two of them.
You are the master of your own cheese destiny; just be sure to increase the amount of the cheese(s) you do choose. Cheese lovers can substitute in their favourite cheeses here, mixing in the kinds that work best in your home made melts. Of course, you will need some non-cheese ingredients, and they are:
- 2 soft, white hoagie rolls
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 pound of rib eye
- 1 large onion, sliced into fairly thin half moons
- 1 large bell pepper, cut into strips
- 2 tablespoons of canola oil, divided
- salt and pepper
- A can of Cheez Whiz
- 10 slices of White American, provolone, or a mix of each
Cut the rolls into 1-inch chunks, melt the butter, and toss the bread in the melted butter. Place the cubes in a casserole dish – you will notice we’re back to the using the big ‘un – and toast them under the broiled until they just start to get a slight amount of colour on them.
Add half the canola oil to a big pan, get it nice and hot over medium-high heat, and add your onions and peppers. Season them with salt and pepper to taste, then cook until they are nice and soft, but not caramelised. Get your processed cheese product on the layer of bread – dollop if you’re using Whiz from a jar – and cover that gorgeous mess up with your vegetables.
Next, turn your attention to that beautiful piece of meat.
Wipe out the pan, turn the heat up to high, and add the rest of your oil. Using a very sharp knife, slice the meat as thinly as you can. Cook the meat quickly in the pan, chopping it further with a spatula while it cooks, if you are one of those people who feels that is a best practice. (I know this is polarising, and I’m trying to be sensitive to that.) Add another layer of Whiz, and add the meat to the cheesy bread pile.
Next, take your cheese slices, and arrange them in a pleasing quilt-like pattern. Surround your cheese quilt with a border of more Whiz, because you probably still have a little left.
Pop the whole thing in a 200-degree oven, until the cheeses are fully melted, and look like they could stretch from here to the moon.
Immediately serve yourself and others, adding hot cherry-bomb peppers if you so desire.