A few weeks ago we bought steak for a stew and ended up with too much of it. In the past I probably would have added it to the stew but I decided to freeze it for later. Later came the following weekend when we put these quick sandwiches together for a late lunch:
The first trick to making an awesome steak sandwich is starting with great meat. Great meat, to me, means that it’s free from aggressive chemicals and antibiotics and comes from a small farm where the animal lived with dignity and care. It’s more expensive than what is available at the typical grocery store so we simply eat less of it.
Starting with great product isn’t enough – meat that is aged will have less moisture content and will cook faster, keep a higher percentage of its natural moisture and will taste better. This steak wasn’t aged for a long time but enough that it didn’t leak blood when defrosted (which is a sign that meat wasn’t aged long enough). When fresh meat is frozen without drying its high moisture content can rupture cells in the meat (the water content of blood swells when it is frozen) which causes excess moisture loss and leads to a drier steak once cooked. You can learn more in our article called Avoid Fresh Meat.
Frying a steak for a sandwich is an easy thing, as long as you follow a few tips:
- Ensure the meat has reached room temperature by letting it rest on the counter (covered) 1-2 hours before cooking. Do not skip this step.
- Do not be scared of high heat. It’s the secret ingredient and necessary for a crusty exterior that’s perfectly medium-rare on the inside.
- Pre-heat the oven on broil. Make sure it’s very hot.
- Pre-heat your pan and make sure it’s super hot as well.
- Do not use olive oil. It will smoke. My favorite high-heat fat is lard. A good butcher shop will sell it. You don’t need a lot.
- Season your steak with salt and pepper, rub both into the surface (you can do this when it first comes out of the fridge as well).
- Do not add herbs, dried spices, garlic or onions when searing. They will burn.
- Let your meat rest. Not there are no pools of blood under the meat in the photo above (the moisture was from the surface of the steak but there’s nothing pooling).
Seared Sandwich Steak – Ingredients
- 1 good quality steak (this was a sirloin tip)
- Small bit of lard
Seared Sandwich Steak – Instructions
- Pull meat from fridge 1-2 hours before cooking. Season heavily with salt and pepper, cover and let rest until room temperature.
- Turn oven to broil. Let it reach maximum heat.
- Place a heavy, oven-safe pan (I use a cast-iron frying pan) on the stove on maximum. Let it get very, very hot.
- Melt lard in the pan until it almost smokes (this should take seconds).
- Place the steak in the frying pan. It will be loud and, if you’ve used too much fat, it may sputter so be careful.
- After 3-4 minutes, flip the steak. Caution: if it sticks to the pan, it’s not ready to flip. Wait a minute or two more and it will release on its own. It’s ready when it’s a dark brown color. Wait a minute longer than you are comfortable before flipping it.
- As soon as the steak is flipped, place it under the broiler for 3-4 minutes.
- Pull it out, place on a cutting board and gently place a piece of foil on top (do not wrap it or push the sides in).
- After 15 minutes (you can cut it at 10 and it will be warmer but it will lose a bit of juice), cut it thin against the grain.
That’s all there is to it! What condiments do you put on your steak sandwich? We used this duck egg mayo (with chili and lime), whole grain mustard and beer-fried onions. If you have a hand blender and don’t know how to make mayo in 30 seconds or less, check out this video.