Sandwich #19–“Working Late” Prime Rib Steak Sandwich with Caramelized Onions

By 300 Sandwiches

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E and I were putting in later hours at work. He was getting ready to launch a new product, and I had a number of after work events. Thursday night was the first opportunity I had all week to make dinner. I wanted to prepare something filling that would be great with red wine, because I was in the mood to drink red wine on a hot summer night for some inexplicable reason.

E’s face lit up at the sight of the prime rib fillets in the meat counter at Citarella, our favorite Greenwich Village gourmet grocery store. “Oooooohh,” he said, sounding like Homer Simpson admiring a donut. “That looks goooood.” We grabbed two fillets–which were about two thirds of a pound of meat–along with onions, arugula, and some large rosemary sandwich rolls from the bakery. Sixty dollars later–before we bought wine–we headed home. So much for a cheap dinner.

Meat preparation is yet another source of culinary discontent between E and I. He’s medium rare. I’m well-done. “I don’t like my cow to moo back at me on the plate!” I tell him.

As such, E watched with a careful eye as I browned the prime rib on the stove (I would have preferred to grill the meat, but we don’t have a grill). The fillets were 2 inches thick, so it was tricky getting them to cook thoroughly in the middle. E jumped into the cooking process halfway through, manhandling my meat and basting them with a little herb butter to speed the cooking. “I don’t know honey,” he cautioned. “The inside is raw, even for my taste.”

“Just let it be for another five minutes and let’s see what happens,” I told him.

Sure enough, the temperature on the inside of the steak eventually rose to about 120 degrees, and we sliced the fillets into sandwich-appropriate slabs. They were perfectly done. I sat the meat on a bed of arugula and topped with caramelized onions, and dinner was served.

1 medium sized onion
5 tablespoons butter
1 pound prime rib, cut into 4 steaks
2 teaspoons rosemary
2 teaspoons thyme
2 teaspoons black pepper
kosher salt
2 medium sized ciabatta rolls or sandwich buns
2 tbsp thick seeded mustard
1 cup arugula leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil

Caramelize the onions first, since they take about 30 minutes to cook. Cut the onion into thick slices, and place in a nonstick pan on medium heat with about 2 tablespoons of butter (or you can start with 1 tablespoon and add another later, as the onions cook down, so they don’t stick). Let them cook down until brown, stirring frequently so they don’t stick to the pan. Turn the heat down to low after 5 or 10 minutes of cooking. This will help them cook more slowly and evenly. When the onions are brown and clear, remove from heat.

While the onions are cooking, prep the beef. I use a rub of rosemary, thyme, black pepper, and kosher salt, but feel free to use whatever seasonings you like. Sprinkle with kosher salt, then rub the thyme, rosemary, and black pepper over both sides of each steak. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat.

Once the pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sear steaks on one side. Flip the steaks once, halfway through cooking. Then add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan. Slightly tilt the pan toward you, and baste continuously by spooning the butter and olive oil over the steak. Steaks are done once the inside of the meat reaches around 120 degrees (for rare steak)—about 4 to 5 minutes.

Let the meat rest for 10 minutes, then slice it thin, cutting across the grain. Spread butter on the buns and toast for about 4 minutes in oven or toaster, until medium dark. Spread mustard on both sides of the rolls. In a small bowl, gently toss the arugula in the remaining olive oil, salt, and pepper to coat the leaves, and place on the bottoms of the rolls. Divide steak slices evenly among the sandwiches and top with caramelized onions. Finish with the top halves of the roll. Cut in half if you like. Makes 2 large or 4 small sandwiches.

At the end of dinner, nothing was left on E’s plate, or in our bottle of red wine.

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