Back in season 9 of The Simpsons, a lovely little episode aired in which Bart and Lisa are stranded on an island with fellow classmates after their school bus careens off a bridge into the ocean. Plausible, right?
The kids have very little food, and one girl (Sherri or Terri, no one really knows) remarks, “I’m so hungry, I could eat at Arby’s!” Thus implying that the food at Arby’s is only to be consumed if you were desperately hungry and stranded on an island with no other options.
Pretty harsh, huh? I wouldn’t quite go that far. Arby’s food, in my recollection, isn’t inedible. Their Beef and Cheddar sandwiches were pretty much the only thing I would order on the rare occasion I would eat there when I was young. How can one go wrong with a toasty onion bun, piles of roast beef, molten cheddar sauce, sweet barbecue sauce and their trademark creamy horseradish spread?
Well, apparently, one can go quite wrong. These sandwiches are not the tasty experiences I recall from my youth. Maybe my palate has changed, or maybe their recipe has deviated from those glory days. but there is a solution in sight when faced with a once-great, now-mediocre fast food sandwich — make your own damn sandwich. From the ground up. I guarantee it’ll be much better than what you would get from the Arby’s drive thru window.
roast beef + cheddar sandwiches
(makes 2 sandwiches)
2 bakery style onion sandwich buns
12 oz deli sliced roast beef
2-4 Tbs Bill Johnson’s Barbecue Sauce (or a similar thin, tangy sauce)
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated (not from a bag)
1 Tbs (9 g) cornstarch
1 c evaporated milk
horseradish cream sauce
1/4 c (60 g) sour cream
2 Tbs (30 g) mayonnaise
1 Tbs + 1 1/2 tsp (26 g) grated horseradish
few grinds black pepper
pinch of salt
To make the cheddar sauce: Freshly grate the cheddar cheese into a medium sized bowl and toss with the cornstarch. Place into a medium sauce pot with the evaporated milk, and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook until the cheese fully melts and the mixture becomes a smooth sauce with no lumps. Keep cooking, still whisking often, until the sauce begins to bubble and thicken. Turn heat to low.
To make the horseradish cream sauce: Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl. Taste, adjust the pepper and salt as desired. Chill until ready to assemble the sandwiches.
Sandwich assembly time!: Making one sandwich at a time, slice one onion bun in half and lay cut-side up on a sheet pan. Lay half of the roast beef next to the bun, and place under a preheated broiler for 1-2 minutes, or until the buns are toasted golden brown and the meat is heated through. Lay the toasted bun on a cutting board and spread the bottom half with half of the horseradish cream sauce. Pile the hot roast beef on top of the sauce, and spread the top half of the toasted bun with 1-2 tablespoons (to your taste) of barbecue sauce. Smother the roast beef with a generous ladle-full of the hot cheddar sauce, and top with the barbecue sauced bun. Put on a plate. Dive right in. Marvel at your sandwich making skills. Assemble the second sandwich and eat it for yourself, or give it to someone else if you’re feeling generous. Serve with some french fries if you’re feeling especially starved.
I assure you with 100 percent confidence, this homemade version of Arby’s once-beloved Beef and Cheddar sandwich will far surpass anything you’ve ever eaten at said establishment. The ingredients are fresher, and you can just taste the love that went into this glorious sandwich. You’ll never have to brave the drive thru again! You’re totally welcome.