Steak Sandwich with Caramelized Onions

Grilling burgers isn’t rocket science. Just about anyone can do it. But a good steak sandwich is a work of art.

I’ve had my share of good steak sandwiches over the years. The first one that comes to mind was at Barb’s Cafe in Angus, Minn. It actually was a mushroom steak sandwich. It was one of the specialties of Barb Arnold, who ran the cafe along with her husband, Kelly.

I remember stopping in at Barb’s one summer during my college days, while working for the Minnesota State Highway Department (now the Department of Transportation). Our crew, which worked on the road, would have lunch there on Fridays on our way back to Crookston. And I always had the steak sandwich.

Another tasty one was Tony Oliva’s Cuban Steak Sandwich at Target Field. The past two times I’ve attended Twins games in Minneapolis, one of my first stops was the stand behind home plate where the steak sandwiches are served.

Here’s a steak sandwich recipe I came across this week that looks pretty good. It is topped with caramelized onions, which make a wonderful side dish for roasts or grilled fish, atop burgers and pizzas, and, of course, steak sandwiches.

Steak Sandwich with Caramelized Onions and Melted Cheese
6 tablespoons extra virgin
Olive oil
5 medium onions, finely sliced
1 teaspoon super fine sugar
1 small bay leaf
4 fillet steaks, 7 ounces each

7 ounces Camembert cheese
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices of sourdough bread
2 oregano sprigs, leaves stripped
First, caramelize the onions: heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over low heat, then add the onions, sugar, and bay leaf. Give everything a good stir, cover with a lid, and slowly cook the onions until they are a deep nut-brown in color; stir occasionally. This process will take longer than you think — about an hour. Meanwhile, bring the steaks to room temperature (this will take about 20 to 30 minutes); de-rind the cheese and divide it into four chunky slices.
Toward the end of the onions’ cooking time, heat a nonstick frying pan over high heat. Add the oil and, when it’s shimmering, gently place a steak into the pan. You should fry the steaks one at a time: if you add all four at once they’ll steam rather than fry. For rare steaks about 1-inch thick, cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, and rest for 5 minutes.
Season each steak with salt and pepper, place a cheese slice on top of it, and set aside in a warm place so that the cheese begins to melt. Meanwhile, toast the bread. Spoon the caramelized onions onto the toast, place the cheese-smothered steaks on top, finish with a sprinkle of oregano leaves, and serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 756 calories, 56 percent of calories from fat, 46 grams fat (16.3 grams saturated, 24 grams monounsaturated), 167 milligrams cholesterol, 55 grams protein, 28 grams carbohydrates, 2.9 grams fiber, 655 milligrams sodium.

Marinated Skirt Steak Sandwich

A lot of grills get put away with the passage of Labor Day. But there are many people who refuse to hang up their spatulas, tongs and grilling forks until the first snowfall. And then, there are those grill year-round.

Well, hopefully, we’re a at least a month or so away from the first snow of the year, although an old friend, Steve Foss, reported there were flakes in the air today (Sept. 14) up in Ely, Minn. He said there even was a little accumulation on his boat cover.

That aside, here’s a recipe for a grilled steak sandwich that caught my eye today, courtesy of McClatchy Tribune Information Services.

Marinated Skirt Steak Sandwiches
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
¾ cup olive oil
1½ teaspoons minced garlic
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1½ teaspoons minced shallots
1 skirt steak (about 2½ pounds)
1 loaf French bread, lightly grilled
Mixed greens
Grilled red onions (optional)
Cheese slices (optional)
Tomato slices (optional)
In a glass measuring cup, combine all the marinade ingredients. Place the skirt steak in a glass baking dish or plastic sealable bag. Pour the marinade over. Cover dish or seal bag. Marinate no more than 3 hours.
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Oil the grates.
Remove the skirt steak from the marinade and wipe off the marinade.
Grill the steak about 3 to 4 minutes per side or until medium-rare or no more than medium. Brush the inside of the bread with some olive oil and grill until just lightly browned. If grilling the red onions, put them on the grill before the steak and grill about 5 minutes on each side. Place some mixed greens on the bottom of the bread and place the whole grilled skirt steak on top. Scatter some grilled onions, cheese and tomato slices on it.
Cut the loaf into individual sandwiches and serve.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 343 calories, 36 percent of calories from fat, 14 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 24 grams carbohydrates, 28 grams protein, 353 milligrams sodium, 50 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram fiber.