A few months ago, we posted about our ongoing quest to ensure that our reformed vegetarian friend S. doesn’t abandon his recent embrace of the omnivore diet. To wit, that meant introducing him to foods that showcase the diversity of his new diet. That is no mean feat. You see he is fortunate enough to be from a country that has enjoyed thousands of years of history of making vegetarian food. So for him, American vegetarian food is definitely lacking in options. He still bemoans the fact that vegetarian food at most restaurants consists of some steamed or sautéed veggies with pasta and a sauce with a unidimensional flavor. That just does not work for him – he is used to a cornucopia of flavors of incredible intensity and variety. He assumed that when he switched diets, he would have more variety (read; flavor), but has since found that to him it is just ‘more texture, but same lack of flavor’. In other words, Bleh!
So it is Anders’ and my responsibility to be good evangelists of all things omnivore. We take this very seriously. Last time he was here we made this little sandwich to showcase some of the flavors we love about meat. And by we, I mean Anders:-). Unlike Anders who (nearly) salivates at the very prospect of eating meat, I am not much of a meat lover myself. I feel about meat the way I feel about bacon – aphathetic. So I figured that if I could make a sandwich for S. that I was in love with, then he was sure to love it as well. This is a simple sandwich with really great ingredients that unite superbly- grilled steak (medium rare); mushrooms sautéed with garlic and thyme (my favorite way to make mushrooms); Cambozola cheese (a combination of French soft ripened triple cream cheese and Italian gorgonzola, and a staple in the kitchen); and to crown this all…a drizzle of balsamic reduction as benediction. I humbly submit that there is no greater steak sandwich than this. OK… maybe next time I could add a slice of avocado 🙂
Makes 3 sandwiches
- 3 slices bread (We used Focaccia)
- 8 oz cut of rib-eye steak
- 1/3 lb white beech mushrooms
- 1 tbs thyme
- three slices Cambozola cheese (sliced thick)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 tbs balsamic vinegar reduction
Before I begin, I should say that making this sandwich requires more than usual amount of coordination. There’s grilling of the steak, pan searing of the mushroom and making sure everything is timed right so that the steak doesn’t get done before the mushrooms (or vice versa). You don’t want the ingredients to get cold waiting for each other. And by the way, if you don’t happen to have balsamic vinegar reduction on hand, you’ll need to make some. It’s quite simple really – add about 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar to a small sauce pan and place on the stove. Heat on medium low (stirring occasionally) until the vinegar is reduced to less than half. This will transform even the most acidic balsamic vinegar into a thick rich and sweet sauce. If it’s not sweet enough for you, feel free to add bit of honey while it is reducing. That’s it.
For this recipe we used buna shimeji mushrooms (brown beech mushrooms) not found in your typical grocery store – well unless you do most of your shopping at an Asian grocery store. I am lucky enough to work close to two! So most of my lunch hours are spent wandering their aisles, staring quizzically at unusual stuff and dreaming up new menus. What I love about these mushrooms (aside from their atypical shape – longer thinner stem and smaller cap than the standard button mushroom), is that they have less liquid content and can stand up to higher cooking temperatures than button mushrooms – that and the more substantial chewy texture. Phew… I just read what I’ve written so far and hope I haven’t scared anyone off with the length of these pre-cooking instructions. It’s really quite simple and it’s taken me a longer time to write than it took me to cook and eat this sandwich. We just want to ensure sandwich success. All right then…let’s begin.
1. Heat your grill to medium high. Season steak to taste with salt and pepper and grill steak until medium rare. Of course you can grill to your desired level of doneness. Medium rare is just how we roll in our house. When the steak is done, remove from grill and cover loosely with aluminum foil until you are ready to assemble the sandwich. This is important – do not cut slice the steak until it has sat for at least a few minutes, otherwise the juice runs out and you lose much of the flavor. I learned this the hard way.
2. Heat a saute pan on medium high heat on your stove. When the pan is hot, add 1 tbs of olive oil. Mince (or finely slice) the cloves of garlic and add to the oil. Continue to heat for about 1 minute but watching to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn. There are few things in cooking more repulsive than burnt garlic. Yuck!
3. After one minute (or when the oil is infused with the garlic), wash and dry the mushrooms and add them along with the chopped thyme to the garlic oil.
4. Continue to sauté for 5 minutes, stirring the mushrooms occasionally. Remove the mushroom from the heat.
5. To assemble the sandwiches, lightly toast the bread and slice the steak into thin slices (less than 1/4 inch thick). Divide the steak into three equal portions and add one portion to each slice of bread. To each sandwich, add 2 slices of Cambozola cheese, 1/3 of the sautéed mushrooms and drizzle 2-3 tsp of balsamic vinegar reduction on top.
If you are not a vegetarian you are sure to love this sandwich. It got the S. seal of approval.