Beef and Cheddar Sandwich with Horseradish Sauce. [Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

It's probably been a few years since I actually tried Arby's Beef n' Cheddar, a roast beef sandwich blanketed in cheese sauce, but there's something so appealing about a pile of thinly sliced meat covered in gooey cheese that I couldn't resist coming up with my own play on it. Plus, it's so easy to make at home.

Kenji already cracked the code on cheese sauce a few years ago, with an incredibly simple recipe that nailed the smooth, smooth texture we all dream of, while also amping up the cheesy character with sharp cheddar.

As for the beef, if you buy it thinly sliced from a trusted deli or grocer, all you need to do is warm it up. I briefly thought about submerging it in beef stock, but that would have resulted in a different, and much messier, sandwich. I also didn't want to overcook the meat; I just wanted to take the chill off. So I decided to place the slices in a covered dish and gently warm them in a moderate oven. This also allowed me to warm up the rolls at the same time. I went with pretzel rolls here, because they are more substantial and can stand up to the cheese-and-beef attack.

Still, with all of this work, I couldn't help but feel that the sandwich was a bit one-note. It needed something bracing to truly counter the cheese. I could have tried to replicate Arby's Sauce, a kind of spruced up ketchup, but instead I tried my hand at the restaurant's other offering, Horsey Sauce (as the name suggest, a horseradish sauce). I really laid it on strong here, going with a nose-clearing rendition. It turned out to be exactly what the sandwich needed: With your first bite, the warm cheese sauce and tender beef fill your mouth, followed by the bracing pull of the horseradish sauce. It's fantastic stuff.


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