The first step was the meat. As I have mentioned before, the crock pot is excellent for transforming even the cheapest cuts of meat into delicious and tender meals. I put the roast into the crock pot with nothing more than a sprinkling of onion soup mix and some water. I then put the lid on the pot, turned it on low, and let it sit. So far, so simple.
A few hours later, it was time to begin thinking about how I was going to serve the cheesesteaks. Cheesesteak being such a Philly tradition, we thought we would dive head-long into the Philly style and make pretzel rolls for the sandwiches. I have a fantastic recipe for pretzel bread, so decided to prepare that recipe and shape the dough into rolls rather than into loaves. Little miss, as always, was glad to help me measure, pour, mix and knead. The hardest part was figuring out counter space in my little kitchen to run the KitchenAid while the crock pot was going. It was a little crowded, but we soon had a soft, smooth dough ready to rise.
And then it was time to wait. Little miss's ballet class was the perfect length of time to let to dough rise, and when we came back home, it was time to get down to the real work. The dough was shaped and set to proof. As it proofed, I set a pot of water to boil. Once the water came to a boil, it was time to add baking soda to the boiling water, to make it alkaline, which helps the pretzels (rolls) develop their deep brown crust. The rolls, once proofed, were boiled in the alkaline water for about 30 seconds apiece, then transferred to a baking sheet. Just under 20 minutes in the oven and a quick brush with melted butter and we had some beautifully browned, delicious smelling rolls just waiting to be made into sandwiches.
So now it was time to work on the meat, which had been dutifully simmering away all day long, making the house smell delicious. The first step was to shred my now-tender beef. Once again, the crock pot is wonderful, an made this extremely easy - two forks and barely and pressure, and the beef practically shredded itself. I had to drain off some of the liquid, but we were soon ready to go from shredded beef to cheesesteak. In our house, that requires two things (aside from the beef, of course) - onions and cheese. Half a (large) sweet onion was sliced and caramelized, then spread on top of the shredded beef. Then the whole thing was covered with coarsely shredded provolone cheese. I returned the lid to the crock pot and let the whole thing heat together until dinner time, which wound up being about 40 minutes.
And the result? Absolutely delicious (though daddy and I both agreed that next time we will use more cheese!). I don't think that anyone would confuse our sandwich with that of one of the famous Philly chains, but we all really enjoyed them. The meat was delicious and flavorful, the onions and cheese went so well with it, and the rolls were absolutely fantastic. We all agreed that this is a definite repeat.
(from Two Bites in Suburbia)
(original recipe can be found here)
2 1/3 teaspoons yeast
1 cup warm water (110-120 degrees)
2 tablespoons milk at room temperature
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 - 3 cups bread flour
4 quarts water
1/2 cup baking soda
Kosher salt to taste
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Add yeast, water, milk, brown sugar and three tablespoons of butter into a large bowl, whisking until all ingredients are combined. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes for the yeast to activate. Mix in salt. Mix in two cups of flour, combining it with the other ingredients. Add more flour as needed, kneading until you have a firm but slightly tacky ball of dough.
Allow the dough to rest, covered, for 30 minutes in an oiled bowl. After 30 minutes, knead the dough for 5-10 minutes (either by hand or by mixer) until the dough is elastic and satiny. Cover the bowl again and allow the dough to rest for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. When the water is boiling, slowly (and carefully) add the baking soda.
Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it gently to deflate it. Divide the dough into two (for two loaves) or six (for six rolls) pieces and shape them as you want them (though round is easiest). Drop each piece into the baking soda bath for no more than 30 seconds, turning it once to guarantee that both sides are covered. Drain the excess water from the dough and place it on an oiled baking sheet. Repeat with each piece of dough.
Sprinkle each bread with kosher salt to taste and use a knife to cut a small incision on the top to allow for expansion.
Bake for 22 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through.
Once removed from the oven, immediately brush the top of each loaf/roll with melted butter.