Red sky in the morning, vegetarians take warning.

I guess I could have put something prettier above the fold, but I want people to know what they’re getting into here: a great big hunk of cow. More specifically, a full steakhouse on a bun. Steak, onions, stinky cheese, butter, spinach, the whole nine yards. Stuffed first into a bun, and then down my gullet. And then I called for the humidor and settled into my Louis XIV wingback to enjoy a fine single malt and peruse the latest issue of Angioplasty Afficionado. Tally fucking ho, my good chap!

Red sky at night, carnivore’s delight.

We don’t eat this sandwich very often, because we don’t eat a ton of beef; if we’re going to eat meat, it’s either going to be bacon, or more bacon. But this sandwich is a fast and fun way to have a steak dinner without a lot of work or a lot or money. Some crusty seared steak, a pile of balsamic-glazed caramelized onions, fresh spinach, and a generous shmear of gorgonzola butter on some nice crusty ciabatta makes an easy weeknight meal fit for Little Lord Fauntleroy himself.

The sandwich is forgiving and variable: you can use almost any cut of beef you have around, as long as you slice it in a way that makes it easy to chew, or substitute grilled chicken breast instead; you could even use sliced deli roast beef for a 2-minute version. Caramelize the onions with or without balsamic, throw in some fennel or fresh herbs (thyme would be tasty), roast some red onions in the oven, or use shallots instead. Roasted portobellos would make a fantastic veggie version.

Whole Foods assures me that this cow lived in a comfortable duplex with some roommates, and received a bolt to the head of only the finest milled and polished steel.

The sandwich has a couple of important components:

  1. The protein. If I’m in a splurge-y mood, I’ll get a boneless rib-eye; otherwise I usually go with skirt or eye round, both of which are pleasantly chewable when sliced against the grain. If you’re using chicken or portobellos I can’t help you, but if you’re using beef, you’re going to want to salt both sides of the meat very generously. Very. This will give you a fantastic crust when seared, and the salty crunch goes amazingly well with the rich and pungent, mildly sweet gorgonzola.
  2. The onions. I’ve waxed rhapsodic about my love of caramelized onions before. I throw some balsamic in mine toward the end of cooking to deepen the sweetness and add a gorgeous dark glaze. Make extra. Trust me.
  3. The compound butter. I like a gorgonzola dolce, because you can add a nice creamy layer of it to the sandwich without overwhelming the other components with stink. When you tell your guests that you’ve made a compound butter they will think you are fancy, and only you will know that all it means is “mix softened butter and cheese;” I like 2 parts cheese to one part butter. Feel free to use the blue cheese of your choosing. You could even skip the cheese altogether and make an herb or garlic butter instead, but I would recommend strongly against that (unless you’re going to make the gorgonzola butter and the herb butter).

Unrelated question: Do you think Marc Summers hates his life? I mean, really, “Unwrapped”?*

You can be eating this sandwich along with a salad and homemade vinaigrette 30 25 minutes after you walk in the door, so I’d like my cooking show now Food Network, thank you very much. The onions take the longest, and the steak, compound butter and salad can be thrown together while the onions color.

And here’s what you’ll get: The compound butter will melt over the warm beef, mixing with the onions to make a rich, creamy dressing for the sandwich. The sear on the meat will produce a noticeable crunch that adds texture, and the salt will enhance the flavor of the meat while both popping through and creating a yummy salty/sweet thing with the gorgonzola dolce. The spinach will add a nice little bite and some color; arugula or watercress would be excellent as well, if you were of that persuasion (I am not, but I don’t begrudge you if you are).

*Answer: Yes.

Steakhouse on a Bun
Caramelized Onions

Pre-heat your oven to 425. Coat the steak liberally with salt. Heat an oven safe pan over high heat and add a very thin coat of canola, peanut or veg oil. Sear one side until a dark brown crust develops, then flip the steak transfer to the oven and roast to your desired level of doneness, 130 degrees (which will rise to 140 after resting) for medium. Remove the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting into strips.

Soften the butter. Mix in gorgonzola to your desired level of pungency.

Cut the bread open. Smear on some compound butter, pile on some steak, add a layer of onions and throw on some spinach.

Eat the sandwich.

Did you want something more in-depth? Come on, it’s a sandwich. You can do it, I know you can.