“I would recommend a hasty sandwich!”
~ Mr. Turveydrop, from Bleak House, by Charles Dickens

Hot sandwich

I DO LOVE a good sandwich. And I’m very particular about my sandwich, (which comes as no surprise to some).

In my book, life is too short not to get your sandwich right—

  • toasted or not toasted,
  • cheese or no cheese, (and the kind of cheese is vastly important)
  • generous meat (not skimpy),
  • lots of vegetables (certain ones, though, depending on what kind of sandwich, and not always with pickles)—which helps mitigate the negative effects of the carbs (on one’s girlish figure… ::sigh::),
  • mayonnaise (the right kind of mayo),
  • almost always mayo and spicy mustard (the right kind of spicy mustard),
  • and sometimes jalapeno, but never slices; they have to be diced.

You get the idea.

You know the people who work at Subway? The ones who are trained to customize your sandwich? The people who work at Subway glare at me. I’m serious about my sandwich.

So when our clan was assigned the Sunday noon meal during our recent family reunion, and since it was to be outdoors and still very casual, I decided on Ree Drummond’s Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches from her blog, The Pioneer Woman. Highly recommended it, btw.

Ree's sandwich

Photo credit: Ree Drummond

In fact, when I first saw her recipe, I immediately knew they’d be great for the reunion. Think about it—all the work is done ahead of time. Sandwiches are assembled, wrapped in foil, and go into the freezer. (For the reunion, they were assembled at our rented lake house, wrapped, and kept in the refrigerator to be used the next day.)

Then, about 30 minutes before time to eat, all I’d have to do is preheat the oven, and my sister-in-law Melissa and I would start getting chips, pickles, cherry peppers, pepperocini, beverages, desserts etc. to the table. Sandwiches go in the oven, and 20–25 minutes later there are hot, savory, crusty, meaty, melted cheesy, yummy sandwiches.

I knew I’d have to do at least two batches to get them all done in the small oven of the lake cabin, but thankfully there were two large electric roasters that could keep the first round warm while the second round baked.

About one month before the reunion, I took Ree’s basic recipe and did a trial run. Good thing too, because I wasn’t happy with what I made. I’d bought Muenster cheese for the first time ever, and it turns out not to be a melty cheese. If you try, it becomes a little leathery. (Sounds to me like a personal problem.)

I also wanted more—something—in the sauce. But that’s what I like about this recipe. You can absolutely tailor it to what you have and what you like. Ree recommends a few things that can be added to the basic sauce, and I added Louisiana Hot Sauce and a good garlic powder.


Her basic sauce recipe is meant for 12 dinner rolls or small sandwich buns, but I would be using long whole wheat hoagie buns from Sam’s and cutting them in thirds for a heartier portion. I think they’re not quite 6 inches.


Also, it’s important not to scrimp on the sauce. With a bun that is a good bit thicker than a slice of sandwich bread, I wanted to make sure the bread wouldn’t be dry and that the flavor would come through.


And as I said earlier, generous meat—or what’s the point?

I chose Havarti cheese, which has been my favorite for sandwiches for a long time now, ever since a fellow at a deli recommended it to me.

When I ran short of the cheese slices I’d bought, I sent Mr. Green to the store for more and he came home with Havarti with dill—the only Havarti they had on hand. I panicked, but it turned out to be a delicious choice with any of the meats we paired it with!

I knew I’d need 75 sandwiches in order to feed the crowd who would still be there on Sunday. But instead of all roast beef, I decided to make a variety. While I was at Sam’s purchasing the long whole wheat hoagie buns, I opted for their trays of deli meats and decided on these combinations in the sandwiches: Angus Roast Beef/Havarti, Black Forest Ham/Baby Swiss, and Turkey Pastrami/Havarti with Dill.


Granted, pre-sliced cheese is more expensive and I usually don’t buy it, but c’mon, 75 sandwiches? If you’re making dozens of sandwiches, pre-sliced cheese is a huge time saver. (What we bought came from Kroger’s deli area).


And just for the record, I’m a Hellman’s snob. There, I admitted it. Fatal flaw #2,047. I also used Jack Daniel’s mustard, and a prepared horseradish.


Oh, and I am pleased to report that for once I had a forethought instead of an afterthought, and remembered to purchase those aluminum foil pop out sheets for wrapping. Saved oodles of time. And if I’d had to add one more oodle to that project, it wouldn’t have been pretty.

Now, getting down to brass tacks about the quantity: When I did this for the reunion, I was flying blind on the quantity of sauce I’d need for 75 sandwiches, and we ended up just making a bunch of sauce over and over until we finished all the sandwiches. For the purposes of this post, however, I’m going to give you the ingredients upscaled from her original recipe to x12.


Therefore, the quantity pictured here is based on 3 cups mayonnaise (instead of Ree’s 1/4 cup).

This quantity of sauce made (very roughly) 30 sandwiches for me, approximately 6 inches each. Remember, I was generous with the sauce.


Oh, and one more thing: it is an important step to press and blot moisture out of the grated onion.


It doesn’t have to be bone dry, but if you don’t get a good bit of it out, the sauce will be very runny.


The beauty of these sandwiches is in making them in quantity and wrapping them in foil to freeze. I coded mine with the type of meat and cheese in each one. But, in the real world of our family, nobody even cares which one they grab. They’re just all good.

The rolls Ree used are probably half the size of the sandwiches I made (mine were 1/3 of a long, whole wheat hoagie). Converting the amounts, this amount of sauce might have made 60 of hers.

This, like all meals prepared for the freezer, will make you feel like you have wings! (Not as in angelic wings; more like soaring-above-the-relentless-challenge-of-mealtime wings.)

Unexpected casual company? “Hey, why don’t y’all just stay for supper? No, really! It’ll be ready in 30.”

Your kids and their friends show up hungry?  Bring it.

YOYO meals? (You’re On Your Own.) Face your husband and teenaged sons without guilt.

[Editorial note from Robert: As beautiful as Rachel’s wings are, I have to say that the amazing taste of these little wonders is even more so—especially with the tweaks she made to the recipe. The word sublime comes leaping to mind. Especially the turkey pastrami with dill Havarti. Oh man.]

The main challenge is getting your family to leave them alone till there is actual, verifiable hunger. If they treat them like snack food, they disappear way too soon.

Go here for her original recipe.

Here are two ingredient lists, the first one uses her proportions but my adaptations, the second is expanded x 12 for the sauce, but just estimated for meat and cheese.



Adapted from The Pioneer Woman, Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches

Servings: 12
Cook time: 20 minutes if refrigerated, 30 or more if frozen
Oven: 350


  • 12 whole dinner rolls or small whole wheat sandwich buns
  • 1 pound thinly shaved or deli sliced: roast beef, ham, turkey pastrami
  • 1 pound cheese (havarti, dill havarti, provolone, swiss, mozzarella)
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tablespoons grated onion, blotted (or 1 Tbsp dried onion flakes)
  • 1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon spicy mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • Dash of Worcestershire
  • Optional: Sriracha, Hot Sauce, Garlic Powder, pepper, etc.


Servings: approx. 30  6-inch sandwiches.
Cook time: 20 minutes if refrigerated, 30 or more if frozen.
Oven: 350


  • 10  18-inch whole wheat hoagies, cut into thirds. Or sandwich buns of your choice.
  • 3–4 lbs. thinly shaved or deli sliced: roast beef, ham; turkey pastrami
  • 3–4 lbs. sliced cheese (havarti, dill havarti, provolone, swiss, mozzarella)
  • 3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1¼ cup grated onion, blotted
  • ¾ cup poppy seeds
  • ¾ cup spicy mustard
  • ¾ cup prepared horseradish
  • Dash of Worcestershire. Around 12 dashes. Your preference. Taste as you go.
  • Garlic Powder. A few good shakes.
  • Louisiana Hot Sauce. Several dashes. Be generous, it won’t kill you.



Mix together mayo, grated onion, poppy seeds, spicy mustard, horseradish, and Worcestershire. Taste it and adjust ingredients however you wish.

To assemble, slice rolls in half. Spread dressing on top and bottom buns. Lay on deli meat, 3–4 slices folded or bunched, then one or two slices of cheese (I cut them to fit the small buns.) Note: Test a sandwich to determine how much meat and cheese works for you. May depend on how thick the cheese slices are to begin with.

Wrap each sandwich in a foil square, and either keep in the fridge or freezer, or bake right away. To bake the sandwiches, put them on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes if freshly made or refrigerated, 30 minutes if frozen. The buns should be slightly crusty and the cheese should be melted.

Best enjoyed with your favorite sandwich accoutrements, your favorite chips, and your favorite fizzy drink! (Then again, who am I to micro-manage your sandwich meal.)