There are sandwiches and then there are sandwiches. When I talk about sandwiches, rest assured that while I am as big a fan of PB&J and anyone, the sandwiches I am talking about are... well... sandwich masterpieces.
Let me first start by saying that I am a sandwich lover from way back. My mother, who we have established was no gourmet, made a mean p-nup and jelly, as my father used to call it. She believed in creamy peanut butter and strawberry jam. There was no jelly, and certainly no grape jelly, happening in my house. I loved those sandwiches.
My mother could also, on occasion, turn out a respectable grilled cheese, although it suffered greatly from the inclusion of Kraft American Squares. Sure, back in the day I thought American cheese was real cheese, but I know better now.
It wasn't until I became a bona fide grown up that I realized that a sandwich could be more than just the sum of its parts. A sandwich could be absolutely astonishingly delicious.
Fast forward to tonight. I didn't know what I was in the mood to make. If truth be told, mostly I was in the mood to make a phone call and order in a pizza, but I felt a little guilty since I do not recall cooking anything at all over the weekend. (For the record, I do not believe that I can get cooking credit for making myself a Nespresso, and so far as I can recall, that is the only thing I did of a preparatory nature all weekend.)
But back to dinner. I recalled seeing a recipe in last week's NYT Dining Section for a steak sandwich. By some miracle, I actually located said newspaper section which, since I didn't recall the name of the recipe or the author of said recipe, was a good thing because it would have required some fancy Googling to actually find the recipe online.
I'm not gonna lie. This was not a wham bam throw together sandwich. The recipe has steps and procedures. There's chopping and sautéing. There's grilling. And there's assembly. And then there's the eating part, which makes all the other parts well worth the effort.
Recipe: Grilled Frank Steak on Ciabatta with Red Peppers
New York Times, July 16, 2014
1 13/4- to 2-pound flank steak
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons black olive tapenade
1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, slivered
2 large red bell peppers, cored and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 large ciabatta, halved horizontally
Smear flank steak with 2 tablespoons olive oil, massage with paprika and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Combine 11/2 tablespoons of the tapenade with the parsley and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Set aside.
Heat remaining oil in a large skillet. Add onion and sauté on medium until soft. Add garlic, sauté briefly, then add peppers. Reduce heat to low and sauté gently until very tender, about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Stir in wine and remaining tapenade, cook briefly, then remove from heat.
Heat grill to hot. When peppers are done, put steak on grill and sear fairly close to the heat, 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Timing is tricky because it depends on the fire and the thickness of the meat, but you can make a diagonal cut at one end of the steak to gauge doneness.
Transfer steak to a cutting board and place ciabatta halves, cut side down, on the grill to toast. Watch closely. Smear toasted ciabatta with the reserved tapenade and parsley from Step 1. Slice steak thin on the bias and arrange slices on the ciabatta. Reheat peppers and spoon on top of the steak. Cut each ciabatta half in six pieces, arrange on a platter and serve.
YIELD 6 servings