Yesterday’s steak sandwich

“I’ve never even heard of leftover steak. What’s that?”


Grilled steak and smashed potatoes with chimichurri. This was my birthday dinner from last year that we ate outside on our deck.

When it’s steak night at my house, I usually buy a large NY strip or a ribeye for myself and more often than not I eat about half of it and save the rest to eat as leftovers. We also grill flank steak for tacos from time to time and some of that will likewise end up in the fridge for the next day.

This week I’m writing about one of my favorite leftover sandwiches using steak that you likely grilled the night before.

If you’re the type of person that never has leftover steak, this sandwich works great with freshly grilled and sliced steak as well.

Read on to see how I turn yesterday’s steak into today’s sandwich masterpiece.

The bread

Almost any bread will do with a steak sandwich, but for this week’s sandwiches I chose to make ciabatta. I had recently re-watched Binging with Babish’s video about Harley Quinn’s movie, Birds of Prey and in that video he makes a breakfast sandwich on ciabatta. In the video he mentions he’s basing his ciabatta off King Arthur Baking’s ciabatta recipe. I tried them both and they are equally solid choices.

Babish (I know his name is Andrew, but our relationship isn’t there just yet) forms his ciabatta into six inch long rectangles and King Arthur’s recipe is shaped in squares. I think I like the square technique the best and that’s what I will choose when I make these rolls in the future.

The main difference between the Binging by Babish and the King Arthur Baking recipes is that Babish’s requires baking on a pizza stone. The King Arthur version just bakes on a sheet pan. Neither recipe is super hard, but I wouldn’t necessarily call these beginner bread recipes.

There’s a much longer rise time required for ciabatta, plus an overnight levain or pre-ferment which means you can’t bake them at the drop of a hat. For example: if I wanted to make my typical potato bun recipe it takes around 2 hours of dough rise time. On the other hand, this ciabatta recipe takes between 5 and 7 hours of time for the dough to rise. So you need to know the day before and be prepared for a lot of waiting for dough to rise if you want ciabatta.

A fresh ciabatta roll ready for sandwiching.

The steak

As I wrote earlier, I typically buy a New York strip for myself, sometimes splurging for a well marbled ribeye. I like my steak cooked somewhere around medium rare.

The biggest improvement in my meat cooking game occurred when I started putting an instant read thermometer in my pocket when I headed to the grill or stove. Sure, the pros can grill and tell doneness just by touching the steak, but those folks cook many steaks every single day. If I’m spending 20+ bucks on a steak I want to make sure I don’t over or under cook it, so I use a thermometer.

Here’s a 20 dollar (currently on sale for 15 USD) thermometer from Amazon that is very highly rated. I use a ThermoPop from ThermoWorks (35 USD) and it is very handy to have around when I’m questioning meat doneness.

If you are one of those people that refuse to buy a thermometer and you want me to tell you how long to cook something, I’ll say that I usually shoot for 4 to 5 minutes per side for a 1.25- or 1.5-inch-thick steak.

Here’s a chart where you can choose your desired doneness and remove your steak from the grill or pan at the “Remove from grill” temperature and that will allow your steak to slowly creep to the proper temperature through carryover cooking.


DonenessCenter colorRemove from grillCarryover cooking
RareRed120° F / 48° C125° F / 52° C
Medium RarePink130° F / 54° C135° F / 57° C
MediumSome pink140° F / 60° C145° F / 63° C
Medium WellTiny sliver of pink145° F / 63° C 150° F / 66° C
Well DoneNo pink160+° F / 71° C 165° F / 73° C
Grill or cook your steak to the “Remove from grill” temperature and then as the steak is resting it will continue to rise in temperature through carryover cooking.

If you are grilling and you’re using a thermometer and your temperature is still low after 4 or 5 minutes per side, that’s when you can close your grill lid and the grill becomes an oven. This helps to cook the interior of the meat just like it would if you put your steak into a hot oven.

As for seasoning, I’m a salt and pepper guy – heavy on the pepper, please. I season one side heavily with kosher salt and ground black pepper and place that side down on the grill or hot pan. Then I season the other side liberally as well. Sometimes you might think it’s too much salt or pepper but remember that you can’t season the middle part of your steak so you need to over season the outside.

The chimichurri

If you’re not familiar with it, chimichurri is an oil-based condiment that has its roots in Argentinian and Uruguayan cuisines; often served with steak or other grilled meats. I make chimichurri in a food processor, but you could use a blender or even a mortar and pestle. Just like pesto, chimichurri isn’t cooked at all and can be made in just a little more time than it takes you to collect all the ingredients from your pantry and fridge.

Chimichurri adds bright and tangy flavors to your steak. The bright, fresh, herby flavor combined with garlic and tangy vinegar leaves you with a very flavorful accompaniment to a savory piece of charred steak.

When you stop at the store to buy steaks, pick up Italian parsley, cilantro, and mint and garlic if you don’t already have some and you possibly already have the rest of what you need to make chimichurri.

Recipe Card
10 minutes
Chimichurri

Great on steak or any meat that is roasted or grilled. Robin says the mint makes this chimichurri feel fresh and spicy, punching up all the flavors.

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Another great use for the chimichurri is on side dishes like potatoes. I tweeted about this a little bit last month. Follow me on twitter for more health tips.

The roasted red peppers

Roasted red peppers add vibrant color and a pleasant sweetness to a sandwich. I added my recipe card for roasted red peppers below, but it’s almost too simple to be called a recipe. Basically, you need to roast your red peppers until they are cooked through and this process will allow you to remove the pepper skins, leaving you with a very tender, sweet and flavorful addition to your sandwich.

40 minutes
Roasted red peppers

This is a very easy recipe that lends a lot of flavor and color to a sandwich. You can store them in the fridge for up to a week but if you store your peppers in a container covered with oil they will last at least 2 weeks.

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Grilled ribeye, chimichurri and roasted red peppers combine to create great sandwich fillings.

Put all the pieces together

The sandwich cross section.

Assembling the sandwich at this stage is very simple. Depending on whether you want your sandwich warm or cold, will determine the speed at which you can start eating. If I want mine warm, I usually will broil the sliced bread with just the steak on top (and maybe some cheese). This warms your steak up but it also does cook it a little so the outside won’t be as pink as it initially was.

If you prefer your leftover steak sandwich to be straight out of the fridge, you just add steak, drizzle on chimichurri and sprinkle a few roasted red pepper pieces on top before sandwiching it all with the top of your roll.

And there you have yesterday’s steak sandwich.

Some yesterday’s steak sandwiches from past yesterdays

Like I said, this sandwich works with almost any type of bread. Just use what you have, and the flavors will do the rest of the work for you. Check out some steak and chimichurri sandwiches I have made in the past.

Sliced ribeye, chimichurri and roasted red peppers on a ciabatta roll.

Make chimichurri. Grill steak. Be happy. See you next week with a new sandwich!


It would be a misteak to skip the cheese.

Do you ever sit and wonder why they were named cheesesteaks instead of steakcheeses?


The website for the Philadelphia area’s official tourism agency, visitphilly.com, claims that Pat Olivieri invented what would become the Philly Cheesesteak in 1930. Olivieri founded Pat’s King of Steaks, which is across street from their cheesesteak rival Geno’s Steaks. Around the city you can find places like Jim’s Steaks, Philip’s Steaks, Max’s Steaks, Joe’s Steaks and Soda Shop and other creatively named joints.

In my house we have cheesesteak nights a couple times a year. We mostly eat the traditional type of Philly cheesesteaks, but sometimes we switch things up.

I’m not claiming that what I’m making here is 100% authentic. I’m not from Philly. I never worked in a Philly cheesesteak restaurant, but I have watched a lot of cheesesteak youtube videos and stayed in a Holiday Inn Express once.

Follow along as I show you how I make my cheesesteak sandwiches.

The rolls

For this sort of sandwich I use my Sandwich sub roll. This isn’t especially traditional for a Philly style cheesesteak, but it works really well for a sub/hoagie/cheesesteak sort of sandwich. If you’re a beginner baker, you should be able to handle this recipe fairly well.

Typically I make this recipe with three 11 or 12 inch rolls, but this time I tried going to 14 just to see how that worked out and we really enjoyed the size and shape. They were a bit thinner than my usual sub roll, but that just means you can have a slightly smaller sandwich.

3 hours
Sub sandwich rolls

This is sort of a French style sandwich roll. Not too crusty but with a good chew for a sub sandwich or po-boy.

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Three 14 inch sub rolls.
The seam on the bottom.

The steak

Sliced ribeye for bulgogi. The butcher freezes the steaks and then is able to slice it super thin.

We have a local Korean market nearby and they prepare ribeye steak for people to use when cooking bulgogi (sometimes spelled bulgoki). They take a ribeye steak and freeze it and then put the frozen steak onto their deli slicer and slice full sized super thin slices that we can buy whenever we’re craving cheesesteaks.

If you do have a Korean market nearby, check them out. Hopefully they will have something like this available. Otherwise you’ll have to slice your own steak. I’ve done the slice yourself technique too.

You do this by buying a ribeye, freezing it for 3 hours or so and then using a serrated knife, make slices as thin as you can. If you’re making cheesesteaks in a pan and not a large griddle, you can use your knife while the meat is raw and chop through it a little. Usually the meat is chopped on the griddle, but if you’re using a smaller pan, pre-chopping the meat a little will help you with the process.

The cheese

You can use any cheese for a cheesesteak. The traditional choices are Cheez Whiz, provolone or white American cheese. But honestly, any sliced or spreadable cheese will work here. The sliced varieties need to be placed on the meat that is still cooking on the griddle/pan and the spreadable cheeses should be spread onto the cut side of your roll, ready to be filled with steak.

I’m guessing that people would want me to chose a favorite cheese here and I just can’t do it. Both Cheez Whiz and sliced provolone are great and it’s fun to switch things up from cheesesteak to cheesesteak.

The vegetables

I typically use onions and maybe mushrooms for my cheesesteaks. Some folks will put green or red bell peppers in there too. Regardless of which vegetables I am using, I cook them all the same way. Before you start the steak, you should thinly slice your veggies and cook them in a skillet or on your griddle to get them soft.

Note: if you’re ordering in Philly you don’t say, “please sir, may I have onions in my cheesesteak.” You just say “wit” or “wit-out” and that will let them know if you want onions or not.

Put the pieces together

Whiz wit with fries.

When we have cheesesteak night we typically cook our onions/vegetables in a pan before we cook the meat. We usually use two pans, but you can use the same pan/griddle if you want. The point is that you can cook your veggies first and they can be a bit lukewarm because you will mix them in with your steak when your steak is almost finished cooking. Steak and veggies do not cook at the same time so this is why we take this tactic.

When you cook your steak you should try to cook it in a cast iron pan or griddle. The reasoning for this is that you will want to chop up your meat a little if you can. If the only pan you have available is non-stick you will want to fully chop up your steak into smaller pieces prior to cooking.

When you feel that the meat is almost cooked through to your liking, line up the meat on your griddle or pan to be about the length of the bun that you want to use (check the gif below). Now is the time you want to add your vegetables and mix them in with your steak to make sure everything is warm and similar temperature.

At this point you have to make a decision based on the cheese you’re using. If you are using Cheez Whiz you would want to spread that into your sub/hoagie roll that you’ve cut 2/3rds of the way through. If you’re using provolone or white American cheese you would want to lay that on top of your meat and veggies that you have lined up to fit your bun length. Let the sliced cheese have a couple minutes to start the melting process.

Once you’ve spread your Cheez Whiz on your bread or let your sliced cheese melt you should open your sub roll up and lay it on top of the meat. I typically let the bun sit there for 30 seconds or so which helps to steam or moisten the bread a little.

Adding a whiz roll to the meat and veggies. This allows the bun to steam a little and the cheez to get a bit melty.

Once your bun has had a chance to warm up and everything has gotten all cheesy (or cheezy), take your spatula and slip it under everything and flip your sandwich off of the hot surface hopefully keeping all the meat and cheese inside the roll.

Some completed cheesesteaks

And here are a couple of the cheesesteaks I made.

A just filled steak with Whiz and wit. This is the cheesesteak from the gif above.
A provolone steak on a cheddar sub roll.

Pimento cheesesteak

If you’re a frequent visitor around here, you probably knew I was going to pimento cheese some steak. Well, guess what? I did.

This was a fantastic sandwich. You treat the pimento cheese like you treat the Cheez Whiz, which means you spread it on the bun while the steak is cooking. Then you open up the bun and place it on the steak on the griddle to steam the bread and heat up the pimento cheese.

This recipe also is using my Cheddar cheese sub roll which I have linked below.

3 hours
Cheddar sub sandwich rolls

Ever thought about putting more cheese in your sandwiches? Boy, have I got the sub recipe for you.

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Before the final proof
After the bake

Pimento cheesesteak recipe

Here’s the whole Pimento cheesesteak recipe. You can follow this recipe and substitute the pimento cheese for Cheez Whiz or even just sliced provolone. The concept of the recipe is all the same up until your choice of cheese.

Pimento cheesesteak sandwich view printable page for this recipe

Instead of Cheez Whiz we're trying something different. Spread some pimento cheese on your roll and let it get warmed up and melty with the hot steak for a great sandwich.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ribeye steak thinly sliced (if you can get your butcher to do this it's best)
  • 12 thinly sliced large yellow onion
  • 4 to 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 thinly sliced red bell pepper (optional)
  • pimento cheese spread (enough to spread on the inside of your two rolls)
  • 2 six to eight inch sub/hoagie rolls (or 1 large roll cut in two)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil

Directions:

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook your thinly sliced onion, red bell pepper (if using) and mushrooms until they are tender. This usually takes me between 5 and 10 minutes depending on how soft/tender I want my veggies. 

Move the cooked veggies to a plate to be used later. 

If you were able to get thinly sliced ribeye from your butcher you can skip the next step because you're ready to cook. 

If you have a whole unsliced ribeye, you will need to freeze it for an hour or two so that you can slice it thinly. After your steak has been in the freezer for 1 to 3 hours, remove it and get a very sharp knife and slice very thin pieces. 

When all your meat is sliced you can start cooking.

In a large skillet or preferably cast iron griddle over medium high heat, add a little vegetable or olive oil to your pan. When the oil is shimmering add the steak and group it into "sandwiches." So if you're making two sandwiches, group the meat into two piles. Salt and pepper your piles of meat. 

Leave the meat where it is for 4 minutes. After that time has elapsed, start moving it around, flipping and even chopping the larger pieces with your spatula. The real Philly cheesesteak joints really chop at the meat, to get it into small bite size pieces. Be careful and do not ruin your pan with a metal spatula if your pan has a non-stick coating.

Continue flipping and moving the steak around until all of the meat seems to be cooked. 

Add your veggies to your steak. Divide the cooked veggies evenly between your meat piles. 

With your spatula or tongs incorporate the meat and veggies until they are combined and mixed through. 

Slice your sub/hoagie rolls 2/3rds of the way through and spread the pimento cheese on the inside of each one. 

line the meat and veggies on the skillet/griddle up so that they are about the length of each of your buns. Open each bun and lay it on top of the still cooking meat/veggies. 

Using a spatula, get under the meat and with your other hand grab the bun and flip the sandwich out of the pan, attempting to keep all of the meat and veggies in the sandwich. Do this for your other sandwiches as well. 

Enjoy your pimento cheesesteak! 

Notes:

 You can use this recipe with Cheez Whiz or any other cheese spread as well, just spread the cheese spread inside the bun as the meat is almost cooked through. 

If you want to use sliced cheese, just lay the slices of cheese on top of the meat when it's cooked through and give it another minute or two for the cheese to start melting. 

If you’re still reading I bet you want a cheesesteak right now. Go get one and come back next week when I’ll most likely be writing about another type of cheese.


I ordered tortas and they brought me a turtle

I was gonna make a pun about the tortoise and the hare, but I thought it might be a little too racy for you.


I want to start off first by being clear and saying that this isn’t an authentic torta like you might find in Mexico. This isn’t even necessarily an authentic torta that I might find in a Mexican focused restaurant where I live in Chicago. These are sandwiches that I enjoy that’s inspired by these things.

Black bean spread, mashed avocado and Mexican focused spice rubbed steak are at the core of the sandwiches I’ve made and eaten this past week. My local market had super thin cut Delmonico steaks on special and that sent me on my way for some really tasty sandwiches. Keep reading and I’ll tell and show you how I put them together.

The telera rolls

First we need good bread. This is a great recipe for telera style rolls over at King Arthur Baking. I have used both lard and shortening in this recipe and to me they seem fairly interchangeable. The amount of lard/shortning/fat that is required to make 10 telera rolls seems to be small enough that you really don’t notice the difference. This week was the lard version.

This recipe instructs you to portion out 10 rolls which in my experience sets you up for smaller sized telera rolls and I’m happy about that. I like to stack my sandwiches with a lot of flavor and ingredients, but I don’t really want HUGE sandwiches (build up not out). These were weighed out to right around 90 grams each and they turned out around the size of a hamburger roll. I think if I were trying to be more authentic with these, I would shoot for 110 or 120 grams and I would shape them much more like a football than what I ended up with. But for me at home, they were great. They have great texture and they hold up to a somewhat messy sandwich.

Fresh telera style rolls.
The rolls closest to you were scored with a metal straw and the ones in the back were cut with a sharp knife before baking. Click to see larger.

The technique for getting the “stripes” in the rolls isn’t quite right on King Arthur Baking’s site. They tell you to slash with a knife right before baking, but that leads to a roll that doesn’t quite look like the telera rolls I usually see. Deep in the comments of the recipe you’ll find people talking about using metal straws. They mention checking YouTube for the proper technique and that’s where I found this really good instructional video.

Don’t get me wrong, if you follow King Arthur Baking’s technique exactly, you’ll still end up with pretty rolls, they just won’t look like the telera rolls that I’m familiar with at my local hispanic focused market or pandareria.

I took a photo of a previous batch that I did half scored with a metal straw prior to final rise and half with the King Arthur knife technique after final rise (pre-bake) and you can judge for yourself. Watch that video above if you want the most authentic shaping and scoring technique.

Black bean spread

One of the best parts about the sandwiches I made this week is the black bean spread that I put on the bottom roll. The onion, garlic and bacon fat all come together to make a very savory accompaniment to the steak. These black beans are also very very good as an alternative to salsa or guacamole with tortilla chips or crackers. Someone should start a movement to get more beans on sandwiches and this is a good recipe to start with.

20 minutes
Black bean spread

Fantastic with chips or spread on a sandwich, this black bean spread is something I sometimes make for taco night to stand in for refried beans as well. Spread on the bottom of your torta to get some real flavor started.

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Meat and spices

I marinated my very thin steaks with a bit of canola oil and fresh lime juice and my suburban taco seasoning. This seasoning is meant to be mixed with cooked ground meat to make tacos, but it’s also great sprinkled on french fries or rubbing on meat to add salt and tex-mex type seasoning.

For steaks, you could use all sorts of cuts. I picked up some really thin cut delmonico steaks that my local grocery had available. But you could use strip steak, or even something like flank steak that you thinly slice after cooking.

Make up a double or triple batch of this seasoning, you will definitely get a lot of use out of it in tacos even if you don’t try this steak torta.

5 minutes
Suburban taco seasoning

Much like the taco seasoning you buy in packets at the store, this is a pantry staple and it adds a little bit of spice and flavor to tacos or meat for tortas.

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The top three

I ate six different telera and steak sandwiches this week and here are the three best ones. Traditional tortas don’t typically have lettuce, but I bought some and I really enjoy the crunchy texture it adds.


Torta one

This was the baseline basic version with the ingredients that I had. Black bean spread on the bottom, steak, salted tomato, lettuce, queso fresco and mashed avocado.

My baseline steak torta.

Torta two

This one is the same as the first, but I opted to leave out the tomato. It’s not the right season for it anyway. I opted for extra black bean spread on this guy and it turned out that that was a very good choice. I find that mashed avocado isn’t quite as slippery in a sandwich as sliced avocado. So mash that stuff up so you won’t have slippage issues.

Heavy on the black bean spread, hold the tomatoes. Black bean spread, seasoned thinly sliced steak, lettuce, queso fresca and mashed avocado.

Torta three

Same as the first, minus tomatoes and I added pickled jalapenos and pickled radishes. The addition of pickled veggies adds a lot with texture and flavor. This mustard pickled radish recipe is a good one and they are great for snacks too. Adds zip, zing and crunch to your sandwich. You’ll find the radish recipe linked below this torta photo.

No tomato but added pickled radishes and jalapenos
Mustard pickled radishes

Pickled radishes are great as a snack and they add crunch and flavor to a sandwich. Pull them out of the fridge and enjoy with cheese and crackers if you want to be fancy.

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Extra credit: the build process

Here’s a build process gif of the first torta that I wrote about. Don’t stare at it too long or you’ll get really hungry!

Building one of my steak tortas.

I love it when telera roll week swings around each year. Maybe I’ll make it a bi-annual event going forward. I’ll bring you along next time with a different protein or style of torta inspired sandwich.