Post #439 Steak Sand W OJ

December 16, 2015 at 8:36 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #439 Steak Sand W OJ

A long while ago, Partner/Spouse and I were driving around as we like to do.  It’s a good way to get out of the house and discover local treasures we never knew existed.  This particular trip we were in Oklahoma and we found areas that looked nothing like where we lived.  It was like visiting another state altogether.

As usually happens on these trips, we got hungry and found a small diner to eat in.  I don’t recall the name because apart from being a diner for our collection, it was completely unremarkable.  The food was only okay; the atmosphere was the type to get you outa there fast; the other diners were quiet and concentrating on eating and leaving.  I normally get a cheeseburger in these situations.  It’s easy to make, easy to eat, and hard to do wrong.  This time we both ordered the steak sandwich, although I had fries to Partner/Spouse’s cole slaw and onion rings.  In short order, we were served a slightly toasted roll with a strip of sirloin that tasted as though it had been frozen moments before.

I normally don’t order a steak sandwich in a diner, or really in any restaurant because they tend to give you a medium sized chunk of meat that’s been seared to toughness and is impossible to get your teeth through.  I took one bite of this emissary of epicurean endeavor and immediately deconstructed it into a steak dinner with a roll on the side.  My butter knife cut it well enough to eat, although it took some doing.  But the truly remarkable thing about this plate were the onions on top of the steak.  They had been cooked to perfection, and turned into some kind of saucy topping that set off the flavor of the steak like a bomb.  Really good stuff.  But the best part of the whole meal was when the check arrived.

“2 Steak Sand w OJ   R    1 FF  1 Rings Slaw”

We discussed it for several moments and finally decided the orange juice had been in the onions, maybe.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about steak sandwiches off and on.  Right about the same time, The Food Network started a new show starring the sandwich king, Jeff Mauro, the current winner of their contest show.  He made a steak sandwich that I wrote about at the time that used the tenderest cut of steak around, the filet mignon.  It also had a spread made from blue cheese and mayo and once it was assembled tasted terrific.  We only had it the one time since the ingredients were costly, but I have that recipe memorized.

My favorite steak sandwich is the Philly Cheesesteak.  I used to work near a cheesesteak restaurant, and they’d make me a mushroom cheesesteak anytime I asked for one.  A cheesesteak sandwich, for the uninitiated, is a ribeye steak cut into very small slivers as it cooks.  It’s sprinkled with a little salt and pepper.  Onions and sometimes mushrooms are added during the cooking process.  A large roll is toasted alongside the steak.  Just before serving several pieces of provolone cheese is melted into the meat and the whole mess is scooped directly into the bun.  Mayo, lettuce, and tomato are added and it’s wrapped and handed to the customer.  It only takes minutes to make and it’s a hot cheesy pile of goodness.  Of course, you can ask for extras and for things to be left off so each sandwich can be as individual as the consumer.

The thing I dislike about most steak sandwiches is that they’re mostly a slab of seared meat on bread that need a knife to break into neat mouthfuls.  The bread disintegrates; it gets sloppy; and I’m left with a slab of meat hanging from my mouth.

I realized that what I like about hamburger and cheesesteaks is the ease of the bite experience.  What causes this is the meat is chopped into small, thin, manageable pieces held together somehow.  So why couldn’t I take a regular steak sandwich and cut it into manageable pieces?  Because it falls out the other end of the sandwich, that’s why.  If you pick up two slices of bread with random pieces of stuff in between them, the random stuff falls out.  So, something has to bind them together.  Think hard.  What would that be?  Mostly, it’s mayo.  I don’t like mayo.  So, then, how about melted cheese?  Well, then you just have a cheesesteak on sandwich bread.  Unique, but sometimes (not often) I don’t want cheese on a sandwich.  (Partner/Spouse has often remarked that for me a sandwich is just a vehicle to transport cheese into my mouth.)

Then I thought about that popular sub shop.  You know the one, where they cut into the top instead of the side.  If I used a roll and made it a self contained vehicle to hold everything, well, that would work.  It did, but it was uninspired.  It was just steak chunks in bread.

I turned back to the sandwich king and remembered the blue cheese mayo, the tomatoes, the lettuce.  I thought back to the cheesesteaks and the extras in the sandwich.  Even my favorite burgers had other stuff on them.  This sandwich didn’t have to be boring.  It just needed something to make it stand out.

Then I remembered “steak sand w OJ”.

I wasn’t about to add orange juice to my sandwich, but it made me think about marinating the steak before cooking it.  The stronger the flavors of the marinade, the better the sandwich.  But that defied the goal of quickness.

Keep in mind, this process continued over months and years.  It wasn’t a driving force, just a niggling thought at the back of my mind so long periods would pass before I thought about it again.

And I reconsidered the OJ in the steak sand.  Because I read an article about dressing up plates and sauces and sandwiches with, wait for it,  . . . . . . . .  Onion Jam!!

The onions on top of the steak were saucy and flavorful and were Onion Jam not orange juice!


So I researched, experimented, changed things up.  I found that onion jam is basically onions that have been caramelized in sugar and vinegar, then allowed to reduce to a syrupy glaze.  Most of the time red onions are used, but it can really be any onion at all.  The more I learned the more I realized onion jam is like anything else.  It’s as unique as the individual making it.  Things can be added or left out to make it something inspiring.

Slice an onion thinly (red or white, but most recipes call for red) then slice them the slices in half.  Cook them in a very little olive oil until they start sweating and go limp.  Add one or two tablespoons of sugar (experiment with this to find your right balance) and half a cup of red wine vinegar.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow the liquid to reduce to syrup, about twenty or so minutes.  Serve either hot or cooled.

You see, something happens to vinegar when it’s reduced.  It’s no longer sharp and acidic.  It turns sweet and the flavors intensify.  I’ve used a balsamic vinegar glaze many times, and can’t wait to try it with this.  With the sweetness of the onion combined with the onion’s biting flavors, this jam will find its way into many of your favorite recipes.

It sure turns a steak sandwich around.

You can store any extra onion jam in an air tight container in the fridge for several days.



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