This is a steak sandwich with a vaguely italian twist. It’s not the kind of thing you want to do with really good steak, but rather a solution for when you discover you’ve bought a family pack of sirloins, and they’re all really tough and you’re going to have to have a chat with your butcher about that. The steak preparation is based on Alton Brown’s steak recipes from Steak Your Claim and the two recipes from Raising the Steaks.
- 8 oz sirloin steak or flank steak
- italian bread
- olive oil
- high smoke-point oil - canola, safflower, or grapeseed
- italian bread
- jar of meatless red sauce
- (optional) some green bell pepper, mushrooms, or other handy vegetable
- (optional) one clove garlic
- (optional) greens - arugula or rocket works pretty well
- Get the steak out of the fridge early enough that it can come up to room temp before you start cooking.
- Preheat your oven to 500F. Stick your cast-iron skillet in there.
- If you’re using green peppers, mushrooms, or other veggies, start them sauteeing in another pan.
- Put the sauce into a bowl and nuke it until it’s warm. Or use a saucepan.
- While the oven’s warming up, get a loaf of italian bread. You want the kind that’s long and skinny and usually ends up turning into garlic toast.
- Cut the loaf in half. Put half of it away for later use. Take the half you’re going to use, and cut it into four slices, flat-wise. That is, cut it in half once parallel to the bottom, and then cut each of those halves in half again, leaving you with four slices. This is one of the few times I use a serrated bread knife It’s really the right tool for this job. Coat one side of the two pieces that have no crust lightly with olive oil. A pastry brush works nicely, but I usually just drizzle it on and rub it with my hand to get it even. Set the bread aside for now.
Set up two plates like the picture on the right. The idea is one (right-side up) plate to catch the juices, and another (inverted) to hold the steak mostly out of any juice that runs out.
plates for resting steak 640x480(112k)
- Wait for the veggies to be done. You want them off the heat when you’re working with the steak, since things will move quickly.
- Turn the burner on your stove to high, and (using a hotpad) move the skillet to the burner.
- Rub the steak on both sides with a big pinch of kosher salt, a couple grinds of black pepper, and enough canola (or other high-smoke-point oil) to coat lightly.
- Toss the steak into the skillet. There will be smoke. Leave it untouched for thirty seconds.
- Flip the steak, leave it for another thirty seconds. You’re looking to get the rich, brown, tasty charring on the outside.
Thickness Time 1½″ 2 minutes 1″ 75-90 seconds ¾″ 45 seconds
- Flip the steak in the skillet, putting it back in the oven for the same amount of time.
- Shut the oven off, pull the steak out, and put it on the plates you prepared.
- Set the skillet back on the stove-top. It should be plenty hot and you don’t need to turn the burner back on.
- Toss in the two slices of bread you prepared with oil, oil-side down. You want to toast them enough that they’ll hold up to the meat and sauce. You can toast the pieces with crust if you like, but they’ll be fine without the toasting. If you’ve got something heavy to weigh them down, that will help them toast evenly. I use a smaller frying pan, such as the one I did the veggies in.
- If you want some garlic flavor, lightly crush a clove of garlic and cut it in half. Rub the steak with the garlic, using one half on each side.
- Set up the pieces of bread with the crust. These are the bottoms of your sandwiches.
- After letting the meat rest for at least two minutes, slice the meat as thinly as you can using an 8″ or 10″ chef’s knife or slicer (right tool for the job), depositing it right on the bread. For sirloin, you’ll want to cut on the bias. Since the grain runs almost stright up and down in the meat, you want to cut across that at about a 45° angle. I find that cutting from 2 o’clock to 8 o’clock works well for me. For flank steak, you want to first cut it into nearly square chunks, and then cut across the grain. Here’s a picture that might help. Notice that the grain runs across the meat, so you want to cut perpendicular to that.
- Pour enough sauce to lightly cover the meat and any veggies over the um, meat and any veggies. Top with the greens if you have ’em.
- Grab the toasty bread out of the skillet, cover the sandwiches, and eat.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 7-8 minutes
I often make sandwiches like this without the sauce too. The big trick is slicing the steak correctly (watch Raising the Steaks sometime for Alton’s explanation of why cutting steak correctly is a big deal) and searing it briefly in the skillet to get that yummy brownness on the outside, with a finish in the oven to get you to medium-rare. I’ve also done the steaks bloody-rare, but many folks don’t like that.
Resting the meat is also very important. If you slice the steak immediately, the juices will run out, and you’ll be left with a dry, tough steak. If you give it a few minutes before slicing it, the juices will mostly stay in the meat, and it’ll be a lot more tender, and a lot more tasty. And finally, I don’t recommend cooking the steak beyond medium rare. If there’s no pink left in the meat, it’ll be tougher and drier than it should be, and you’ll need more sauce to cover that up.
Serve with a salad or a cup of minnestrone and you’ve got a pretty decent meal for two in under a half-hour.