This week I turned a cheap cut of steak and some store-bought frozen potato products into two different sandwich variations. Not sure what made this random
tot thought pop into my head, but I paired tater tots with beef, which everyone knows is a potato’s best friend.
The gist of the idea I had was to turn tater tots into a hashbrown-style patty, and after that popped into my mind, I dedicated a tiny bit of my Saturday and Sunday mornings to the science of making a good, crispy tater tot patty that could be used in a sandwich.
Some of the inspiration for this potato application should be given to the people of the internet who originally suggested that you should take your McDonald’s hash brown and add it to the breakfast sandwich that you ordered.
I don’t remember where I originally saw this idea but ever since I first gave it a shot, I order a second hash brown to place inside my yearly airport McDonald’s breakfast sandwich for extra texture along with the meat, egg, and cheese. Try it next time.
I knew that since I have already written about the sausage egg and cheese biscuit, I would need to chart another route with this post and that’s where we’re at now. Let’s get into it.
This week the bread selection was simple.
This won’t come as a shock to anyone who has been reading along, but sometimes I must plan these sandwiches a few weeks in advance. I still pretend in the writing that “this week, I made blah blah blah” whereas I often am making these sandwiches a month prior to posting. Having a calendar solely dedicated to sandwich content poses a challenge sometimes.
Anyway, I was making these steak and potato sandwiches during the phase when I was testing my most recent “simple burger bun” recipe. It’s simple because it has the least ingredients, but it’s not necessarily my favorite burger bun recipe that I have shared. That award goes to my super soft potato buns v2 recipe—which contains 2 additional ingredients that home cooks might not have in their pantry.
Tater tot patty
I’ve written about how I have used tater tots to make waffles as the bread in a sandwich before, but this tactic is a bit different.
Forming tots into a patty and lightly pan-frying them is a simple way to add some crunch and texture to a sandwich. The goal is to use tots to create a savory and crunchy hashbrown patty. If you have some of those in your freezer you can definitely use them instead, but we often have a bag of tots in our freezer, so I attempted some experiments and came up with a simple method to achieve my tater tot patty goals.
Use a biscuit or cookie cutter
If you’ve read some of my biscuit and breakfast sandwich content, you might be aware that I use biscuit cutters for more than just cutting out biscuit dough. Technically these are also cookie cutters and I have used them for that. But I also use them for making perfectly shaped ground sausage patties and I even used the larger ones to create round fried cheese curd disks for a Curderburger copycat.
You don’t have to use a biscuit cutter, but it does make things a little bit easier and more consistent. This is especially helpful if you put this tot patty on a biscuit sandwich. Just note that, unlike a meat patty, these potatoes will not shrink when they are fried up. So, you don’t have to make these larger than your sandwich in order for it to still fit when cooked and crispy.
For this application, your tots either need to come up to room temperature in the refrigerator or on the counter or if you’re pinched-for-time they only need about 1 minute in the microwave. Since you only need around 8 or 10 tots, you can warm them up quickly, but since we’re technically mashing them together, they just can’t still be frozen.
The egg binder
I tried making a tot patty without a binding agent and the potatoes will crisp up, but they all crumble and everything falls apart in the pan. You need something to allow the tots to stick to themselves better. In my experiments, it was a tiny bit of whisked egg that did the job.
I also tried mayonnaise, egg white (because I was using the yolk for polish doughnuts) and I attempted one tater tot patty with a blend of ketchup and mustard as the binding agent. None held together quite as well as the whisked whole egg. Mayonnaise was a close second, so if you don’t want to waste an egg on this, you can use 2 teaspoons, or a tablespoon of mayonnaise and it should hold together ok.
The process I came up with for a 3.5 to 4-inch diameter tater tot patty is:
8 (to 10) thawed tater tots
+ 1 tablespoon of whisked egg
+ any seasonings
In this economy, no one wants to waste eggs, so you can either scramble up whatever isn’t used with your tot patties, or you can put them in a sealed container in the fridge to use within a couple of days. You’re going to need another tot patty by then anyway!
Cube steak is one of the cheapest cuts of steak you can buy. It comes from the area of the cow known as top round or top sirloin and is typically flattened and tenderized by the butcher by a process known as “cubing.” Cube steak is well known for being the cut of beef most often used in chicken fried steak which I wrote about last year.
I’ve never seen cube steak at the store that wasn’t already pounded out or run through the cubing machine by the butcher. But if it wasn’t, you can do it yourself with a meat mallet. I typically pound the meat a little bit extra right before I cook it to ensure we’re on the good side of tender.
You can see above that I can get 4 to 5 cube steaks for around 9 bucks, which leads to at least 4 sandwiches. Depending on how your butcher prepares the steak, each piece could be cut in smaller sizes as well. If you want a more reasonable, smaller sandwich, you could get at least one or two more out of the package above after halving or cutting off the ends of each piece.
Before this sandwich experience, I had only cooked cube steak in chicken fried steak dishes, but it works well just seared in a pan with butter and a dusting of flour. I seasoned some all-purpose flour with paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt and used it to dust each pounded cube steak before frying for just 3 or so minutes per side. Cube steak is really thin, so you don’t need to cook it very long for a sandwich.
Now that we have meat and potatoes it’s time to sandwich
Let’s talk about the first of two sandwiches I made this week (aka: a month ago—maybe).
The almost-torta steak and potatoes sandwich
I don’t know exactly why, but my next thought process when thinking of a steak and potatoes sandwich was guacamole. This took my brain in a bit of a Mexican torta-style direction, and I added grilled red onions and a little bit of crumbled queso fresco cheese.
The guacamole and cheese both add flavor and creaminess to accompany the steak and potatoes and the onions add a bit of bite. Everything just works very well together to make a fun sandwich combo that you can cook quickly.
Note: this is not an attempt to make an authentic Mexican-style torta, it’s just a combination of good ingredients that make for a fun sandwich.
Grilled red onion, guacamole, and cheese
Newsflash: I was feeling lazy.
I grilled the red onion with a little olive oil, salt, and black pepper for just 3 or 4 minutes per side on my indoor grill pan. I could have grilled outside, but it was cold, and I didn’t want to.
I bought the guacamole from the store. It wasn’t the best guacamole, but it was good enough. Again, I already covered this, but I was lazy.
I did crumble the cheese though. It’s queso fresco. I crumbled it into small pieces, added it to the top, and sandwiched the whole thing.
The one-pan steak and tot sandwich
I was a bit shocked when I looked this up, but this is the first time I have cooked a fried, sunny-side-up egg for this blog. All of the egg preparations I have made so far and written about for breakfast sandwiches here have been a folded, square egg or a round egg like you would get at McDonald’s or another fast-food chain.
I enjoy sunny-side-up eggs but have shied away from making them for sandwiches for this blog for two reasons. First, there seem to be a lot of folks who have problems with runny yolks, so I don’t really want to spend a lot of time writing about sandwich components that people might not enjoy reading about. And secondly, I think some people would say that a runny egg on a sandwich, especially a burger, has become a bit “overdone” on menus these days—pun intended.
Anyway, if you’re a runny yolk hater, my apologies, but this sandwich worked great and has easy cleanup due to the one-pan method in the recipe. You can easily scramble the egg or turn the sunny-side-up egg into an over-easy version in the same pan with no extra work.
Anyway, that’s a lot of words simply to say that this sandwich rolled into the breakfast category with a fried egg on top. This is a good, not-so-traditional, breakfast sandwich that can be cooked all in one pan (not counting the bun—although technically you could bake buns in the same pan if it’s oven-safe).
Here are the quick and easy steps required to make this sandwich in one pan.
- toast the bun
- crisp the potato patty
- sear the steak beside the tot patty
- allow the steak and potatoes to rest on a plate
- wipe out the pan
- cook the egg
- eat and enjoy
- wash the pan
This is my one-pan steak, tater tot patty, and fried egg sandwich recipe that’s equally suited for the breakfast, lunch, or dinner table.
Seared cube steak and crispy potatoes are all dressed up for breakfast in this sandwich. The three components can all be cooked in the same pan, making for a very simple cleanup.
Ingredients:Tater tot patty
- 8 to 10 tater tots, thawed
- 2 tablespoons whole egg, whisked
- salt and black pepper
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil
- 1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cube steak
- 1 hamburger or sandwich bun
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 whole large egg
- cube steak (from above)
- tater tot patty (from above)
- hot sauce, optional
Tater tot patty: cut a small piece of parchment or wax paper to about 5 inches square. Add a little oil to the top or spray it with non-stick spray.
If your tater tots are still frozen, you can microwave them for 45 seconds to 1 minute until they are soft enough to use. Once they are thawed, sprinkle them with a little bit of salt and black pepper and mash them with a fork and form them into a patty on top of the piece of parchment. If you have a biscuit cutter that is around 3.5 to 4 inches in diameter, you can use that for a consistent size. Otherwise, form into a patty and then leave on the parchment until ready to cook.
In a large skillet, over medium heat add 2 teaspoons of oil. Once the oil is shimmering, carefully add your tater tot patty. Use the piece of parchment to carefully place the potato patty into the hot pan on top of the oil. Cook the tater tot patty for 5 minutes on the first side before flipping.
Prepare the seasoned flour: add flour, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and salt to a small plate and stir to ensure the flour is fully seasoned.
If your cube steak was not pounded by the butcher, pound it out now with a meat mallet to tenderize. Once the steak is pounded, add it to the plate with the seasoned flour. Coat cube steak on both sides with flour.
Slide the tater tot patty over to one side of the pan and add butter to the empty side. The butter should quickly start to melt and bubble. At this point add the flour-dusted steak on top of the butter and cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side.
Once the tater tot patty has cooked for 5 minutes, carefully flip and continue to cook for an additional 4 minutes or until the steak is ready to remove from the pan.
Remove both the tater tot patty and the steak and add to a cutting board or cooling rack to rest while the egg cooks.
Reduce the heat on the pan to low. With a couple of paper towels, wipe out the pan, removing all grease from the steak and tot patty.
Once the pan has had 2 minutes to cool, add butter. Once the butter is bubbly, crack an egg right onto the bubbling butter.
Salt and pepper the egg and place a lid on top of the pan. Cook the egg with the lid on for 3 to 4 minutes until all the white is set.
Sandwich assembly: Slice your bun and toast it if you prefer.
Add steak, to the bottom bun and then top that with the tater tot patty and the sunny-side-up egg. Top the whole thing with your favorite hot sauce or steak sauce.
Serve and enjoy.
Check back next week!
Maybe I’ll write about a sandwich I made last month or the month before!