Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pioneer Woman: Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich

I was excited to try this recipe for a few reasons.  First, the name is enticing.  Who wouldn't want to try something that was touted as someone's favorite sandwich, especially if it was published in a book with that claim?  So, I was full of anticipation just from the title (and in fairness, Marlboro Man is a big steak-and-potatoes guy, so I thought I'd likely agree with -- or at least could trust -- his judgment).  Second, it's basically a steak sandwich, and I'm always game for anything steak.  And finally, it uses chop-steak, and I've never cooked with chop-steak, so I was eager to see how it cooked and how tender it would be.  Unfortunately, this recipe didn't live up to the hype I created for it in my mind.  But that's kind-of like a summer blockbuster, right?  If you don't see it the first weekend, it will never be as good as everyone says it is, even if it's pretty darn amazing.  So all told, it was a good lunch, and I did learn that chop-steak is a great ingredient, which means it's not fair to say this was anything other than a success.  (It's also ridiculously easy to make and took hardly any time, and that's always good for a Saturday lunch.)  Thanks to Harrison at Wooky's House for picking this one.

Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich

Verdict: eh
Cook it Again: I'll probably make chop-steak sandwiches again, but not from this "recipe."
Cost Factor: Not too bad.  Chop steak is about $4-5 a pound, but this entire meal cost us less than $18, and we couldn't feed all four of us steak sandwiches anywhere else for that price.

One of the things I loved about the "recipe" is it really reads the way you'd expect a "by-eye" recipe to read; the only quantities it actually specifies are 1-2 onions, 2-3 pounds of chop steak, and 4 rolls.  (That's why I put "recipe" in quotes; it's not so much a recipe as a list of ingredients to put together as you like.)  Other than that, the ingredients are "butter, lots of it," seasoned salt, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon pepper.  Unfortunately, it also really makes this recipe a lot like something you'd just whip up (or at least, something I'd just whip up) if I had the chop steak in the fridge and wanted to cook it up quickly and easily one night.  "Hmm, what seasonings can I toss in ... okay, looks good, smells good, tastes good," that kinda thing.

That being said, we did enjoy our lunch, and I'll still walk you through the cooking steps.  It was a really easy meal to make and all in one pan, which is always nice!

First, you need to slice and cook the onions.

While they're cooking, slice the chop-steak into one-inch slices. 

I put the steak into a big prep bowl to toss it with the seasonings.    I was able to do this and go back to the onions every few minutes.  Easy-peasy.

The seasonings are just the Lemon Pepper and Seasoned Salt.  You'll use the Worcestershire sauce later.
 When the onions are done, take them out of the pan, add a little more butter, and cook the steak. 

You have to do the steak in rounds.  It took me three rounds to get through all the steak, but it cooks very quickly.  Once you finish it all, you put it all back into the pan along with the onions.  This is when you add the Worcestershire sauce.

Okay, so I used two pans.  I didn't feel like removing all the steak and onions just to grill the sandwich rolls, so I buttered them and grilled them on our griddle pan.
The Worcestershire sauce deglazes the bottom of the pan and gives the steak and onions a nice, dark coating.  You can see in this photo how much darker the mix is compared to the photo just above.

The finished product!

So, I don't mean to sound super negative about this recipe.  I just don't think it really is a recipe, necessarily, as much as an inspiration -- a reminder to make some steak sandwiches, with some suggestions for how to season the meat.  Here's what Mick and I agree we'd do differently next go-round.  (And by next go-round, I really mean next time we cook chop-steak sandwiches, because the truth is that the chop-steak wasn't bad at all, and now I have a new ingredient in my repertoire; but we're not likely to repeat much of the seasoning ingredients!)

First, when we season the meat we'd use far less of everything, and probably eliminate the lemon pepper altogether.  (Mick doesn't particularly care for lemon pepper, which either I didn't realize or remember.  That was my fault.)  I thought that the seasonings in the PW Cookbook photo looked pretty heavy, and I tried to mimic that.  The result was that everything was a bit much.  Next time I will be very light on the seasoning.  Worst case, when the meat is in the pan I'll taste it and if it needs anything, I'll just sprinkle more seasoning on right there.   All the seasoned salt and lemon pepper reminded me of a college kid's concoction as opposed to a nice, tender meat for a sandwich.  For that matter, I might even season the meat with just salt and pepper and not seasoned salt.  Although I love seasoned salt in some things, I think it lent itself to the college kid thing (especially because I was definitely heavy-handed with it).  That's probably just an association in my own head, but still. 

Second, the recipe says that once the onions are cooked and removed from the pan, to add more butter to the pan and turn it to high to cook the meat.  This was a bad idea, and the meat cooked too quickly.  It didn't just sear in flavor, it burned.  For later rounds of cooking I turned the heat down and it was much better.

Third, Ree says that some variations are to add mushrooms and cheese, and I would definitely add the mushrooms and possibly some pepper jack.  Of course that turns this into a steak and cheese, but even if we are keeping strictly to steak sandwiches I would definitely add the mushrooms.

If you haven't made this yet, I'd strongly suggest turning down the heat when you cook the steaks and going easier on the seasonings.   Otherwise, as far as steak sandwiches go, these are fine -- it was more the title that was disappointing.


p.s.  You'll notice there were no helpers in the photos today. That's because today is a nice, lazy day and my fabulous helpers were still in their pj's and were upstairs playing.

No comments:

Post a Comment