Looking for comfort food? This dairy free Philly Cheesesteak Skillet is a one pan wonder that transforms ground beef into something decadent on a weeknight. Don’t be daunted by what looks like a lengthy ingredient list: this recipe pulls together a handful of ingredients that need minimal prep & relies on pantry seasonings & spices to punch things up a notch!
For the easy caramelized ground beef:
For the dairy free cheese sauce:
PREP: Put the raw cashews into a blender pitcher and cover with just boiled water. Let soak, covered. Meanwhile, wipe the mushrooms dry with a damp cloth and quarter them. Peel and chop the onion in half through the root, then into thick-ish slices. De-seed the bell peppers & chop into slices the same thickness as the onion. Make the beef seasoning blend by mixing together the coconut sugar, granulated garlic, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, onion powder, sweet paprika and ground mustard in a small bowl.
BROWN: Preheat a cast iron skillet or similar over medium high heat. Add the quartered mushrooms to the dry skillet and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt & cook until golden brown. Scoot the mushrooms over to one side of the skillet and add 1 tablespoon / 15 ml of the avocado oil. Let the oil warm through for a few seconds and then, when shimmering, toss the mushrooms in the hot oil so that they finish cooking and are golden brown & glossy.
COOK: Transfer the mushrooms to a large bowl and add the remaining 1 tablespoon / 15 ml of oil to the skillet. Add the sliced onions to the skillet and cook until they have reduced and wilted down a little, a few minutes. Add the sliced peppers and cook until the onions and peppers start to brown in spots & are tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the onions and peppers to the same bowl as the mushrooms and keep warm.
CARAMELIZE: If your skillet is looking a little dry, feel free to add a small amount of additional oil to the skillet to lightly coat. Place the ground beef into the skillet in a single piece or broken into as few a pieces as possible. Lightly press down on the beef so that it’s about the thickness of a generous home made patty. Cook, undisturbed, until the beef is seared with a lovely deep crust, then flip over and repeat on the other side.
BLEND: While the beef is browning, drain the cashews and rinse them through a strainer. Return the cashews to the blender pitcher, along with the smaller amount of broth, nutritional yeast, avocado oil, white wine vinegar, paprika, salt, garlic, black pepper, tomato paste (if using) and ground mustard. Blend until smooth & creamy. Measure the potato starch or cassava flour into a ramekin and pour a little of the blended sauce to cover. Use a spoon to mix into a smooth slurry. Add the slurry to the blender and blend until smooth. If you prefer a thinner cheese sauce, add the remaining broth and re-blend.
SEASON: Once the beef is nicely seared, drain the skillet of any excess fat. Use a wooden spoon to loosely break up the beef into large pieces – the middle of the ground beef should still be pink. Sprinkle with the seasoning blend and stir to coat. Continue to cook the beef until it is cooked through and caramelized, breaking up into bite size pieces with a spoon as you go. Pour over the coconut aminos and fish sauce & stir to coat. Reduce the heat to low.
THICKEN: Make a slurry with the potato starch and the broth, adding a little liquid at a time until smooth. Pour the thickening liquid over the beef and stir to coat. Cook over the residual heat until the beef is coated and glossy, stirring to scrape up any of the nice browned bits on the bottom of the skillet.
WARM: Increase the heat to medium and add the vegetables back to the skillet. Cook until warmed through and ready to serve. Drizzle with as much of the cheese sauce as you like and serve immediately. Not traditional, but we like to serve this with sliced green onions, fresh jalapeno and pickled jalapeno slices. Delicious over GF pasta, fluffy rice or scooped onto GF rolls, too.
I’ve tested this recipe with a variety of thickeners for the beef. Potato starch is the easiest to use with a completely neutral flavor. Otto’s cassava flour works well, but other brands have issues. Pamela’s is both gritty & too sweet in flavor. As a general rule, if your cassava flour has a sweet scent or a grittier texture, I wouldn’t use it. Arrowroot starch works in a pinch, but it’s a tad on the mucilaginous side, so I’d rather skip it altogether.
This recipe will make about 1 cup / 240 ml of cheesesteak sauce & depending on how saucy you like your cheesesteak, you may not need to use it all. You can make the cheese sauce ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days.