16 January 2009

The Best Steak Sandwich

Last night we ate NY Strip Steak (my favorite cut for its big flavor and chewy texture) with oven toasted, rosemary and thyme-rubbed potato wedges. It tasted as good as it sounds. Today, however, I was blown away with the power of the leftovers, transformed into a steak sandwich.

First, as to the meat: I firmly believe that the only good-tasting meat is happy meat. Meat needs to be happy throughout its chain of being, meaning that it needs to be raised in reasonably clean and comfortable environment, slaughtered humanely, and cooked with the utmost respect. I got the four gorgeous examples in the picture from our butcher's at Gourmet Garage. I first let the meat become comfortable at room temperature, and sealed it up on both sides with a simple yet heavy seasoning of Maldon salt and fresh ground pepper. A smear of of extra-virgin olive oil on top helped it both brown in the oven and not stick to the pan. After the meat seemed relaxed and feeling good in its salt and pepper dressing (I let it sit out for maybe 45 minutes, which was fine in our cold winter apartment, but might not be recommended by food safety experts), I stuck it into a searing hot broiler, cooking it for about 3 minutes on both sides, to a nice medium rare. (I typically eat my beef on the bloody side of rare, but I was looking for something more like comfort-food this time) Crucially, it rested for at least 5 minutes while I was setting the table. This all resulted in extremely flavorful steaks. I served it with a dallop of compound butter (thyme, shallot, lemon juice, salt, pepper, unsalted butter) to smear into the meat. So simple.

Today the steak's punch of flavor was intensified as the compound butter had worked its way through the meat overnight.

I sliced the left-over steak up and toasted the remaining leg of yesterday's baguette. A smear of the aioli (garlic, salt, egg, and good oil, emulsified) kept everything moist and flavorful inside. On top of the steak went slivers of Castellano cheese (like an aged Manchego), and a handful of peppery and crisp arugula. It's the best thing I've tasted in a long time, if I may say so myself, and I highly recommend it. Now I just need a glass of Chianti to call it a meal...

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