How’s Summer treating you? Here in the Midwest, we’re sweltering.
And therefore fairly, um, indelicate at any given moment.
But the super wet Spring and the heat that arrived early in June and stuck around like in-laws that just. won’t. take. the. hint. have paid off in aces: summer produce is starting to roll in, and wow, is it delicious! Carrots and eggplant and squash and herbs. And the peaches. I’ve never made so much peach cobbler in my entire life.
And just this very day, I downed my first ripe cherry tomatoes from my garden during lunch, huddled in front of a fan. After eyeballing the roma plants closely last night, I realized I’m going to be canning tomato sauce in the next two weeks. Eeek! I don’t know if I even have enough lids and seals.
I’ve also been manning (womanning?) the grill whenever the heat backs off enough to spare the skin from melting off my face. Better to saute oneself outside for a few minutes than heat up the kitchen with the oven, right?
Some of you may remember that I entered a cooking contest last year that landed me in Branson, Missouri in the middle of December. Typical of SoupAddict not thinking things all the way through, I created a recipe for the grill … in July … and then found myself standing outside in a parking lot, grilling said recipe for the judges … in December. In Missouri.
Now, I’m not a fair-weather griller by any stretch of the imagination, but when I’m home, it’s not so bad to be shivering cold in front of the grill, because I have all the comforts of hearth and home just steps away. On the road, not so much.
But now we’ve come full circle back to July, and if July isn’t the month to be grilling, then I don’t know what is. And I wanted to share my recipe, because it’s kind of fun — a different way to make cheesesteaks: the fixin’s are literally stuffed into the meat.
Oh! One final thing before I dive in here: the contest rules required that we create a recipe that was representative of our region. Being in Cincinnati, I picked Cincinnati Chili as the inspirational, um, cuisine, using the spice blend that gives Cincinnati Chili its unique flavor to season the steaks. I wanted to point that out in case you were wondering what the heck I smokin’ when I came up with this chocolate-cinnamon spice rub. (But don’t worry, it’s really good – the chocolate and cinnamon are merely enhancements, not primary flavors.)
Whoa, SoupAddict! Blurry much! I think it’s actually a schmear on the lens, but it’s the only photo I have of the spices. And they’re so pretty. Assuming it’s not giving you vertigo. (It is me, a little bit.)
Thick, juicy ribeye steaks are butterflied open …
And seasoned inside and out.
Veggies are pre-grilled before stuffing into the steaks. They’ll continue cooking in the meat sandwich, but we want to give them a nice head start.
And now we stuff.
And then we fold it all over, gently schmoosh it down, and tie it all up.
Because the meat has been sliced in half horizontally, it will cook through with no problem, even though the inside sides of the butterflied meat will never directly cook on the grill.
See how the cheese is oozing over all the fixin’s? Mmmmm, cheese steaks.
So, what you do now is to slice the stuffed steaks into 1/4″ to 1/2″ slices, cross-cut, down — like you would slice a loaf of bread for sandwiches — creating discs of meat with cheesy vegetable centers. Then lay those slices on the bottom bun, overlapping to fit as many slices as possible.
Having prepared this recipe many times now, I would take a different serving approach than I did at the competition. Rather than sandwiching the meat slices into a sub bun, I would serve it open-faced. Or at the very least, use your fingers to pull out some of the crumb in the top half of the bun so that it sits like a dome right over the meat. Otherwise, they’re a little messy.
Not that messy’s bad. You can’t be not-thinking-things-all-the-way-through SoupAddict while having a thing against messy.
I prepared this sandwich dry in these photos, but do add your favorite condiments: mustard, mayo or even BBQ sauce.
Makes 4 sandwiches
1 each onion, sliced into 1/4″ thick rounds
1 each portobello mushroom cap, brushed clean
1 each red or green bell pepper, or poblano pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon grated bittersweet chocolate
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 each boneless rib eye steaks, about 1″ thick, 3/4 to 1 pound each, trimmed
extra virgin olive oil (for brushing)
8 slices aged provolone cheese, medium thickness
4 good quality, crusty, sub rolls
2 tablespoons butter
1. Preheat grill to high.
2. Slide onion rounds onto thin, flat skewers, like lollipops. Brush both sides of slices with olive oil.
3. When grill is very hot, place onion skewers, portobello mushroom cap (gill side down) and the pepper directly on the grate over direct heat. Grill onions for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until their edges begin to brown. Char the pepper on all sides. Grill the mushroom cap for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until it begins to soften and crinkle. Remove vegetables as they finish to a clean plate. Cool vegetables until they can be handled. Leave grill heating while you assemble the remaining ingredients.
4. Combine the spices (ingredients 6 thru 15) in a small bowl and set aside.
5. Make a lengthwise cut into the side of each steak, so that each can be opened like a book (don’t slice all the way through the far edge). Brush the outsides of the steak with olive oil, then liberally sprinkle both steaks inside and out with the seasoning mixture.
6. Prepare the vegetables: Slice the grilled onion rounds into half moons. Remove the stem and seeds from the pepper. Slice in half and scrape off the charred outer skin (it’s okay if some skin is left behind), then slice the halves julienne. Slice the mushroom cap into thin strips.
7. With the first steak “opened,” place two slices of cheese on one half, staggering the slices so that they cover the surface. Layer on half of the vegetables. Cover the vegetables with two more slices of cheese. Close the other half of the meat over the cheese and vegetables, and tie together at two inch intervals with kitchen or butcher’s string.
8. Repeat with the other steak, cheese and remaining vegetables.
9. Place both steaks on the grill. Check steaks after 4 minutes; when the bottom has browned make a quarter turn onto the side (or the spine of the steak book). Grill for 2-3 minutes. Finally, make another quarter turn onto the top of the steak and grill for an additional 4-6 minutes. (Temperature should read 140-145 degrees on an instant read thermometer for medium doneness.) Move to a plate and allow steaks to rest for 10 minutes.
10. While the meat is resting, slice each of the sub rolls in half, and generously butter the insides. Grill the rolls, butter side down, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until lightly toasted.
11. Remove the strings from both steaks, and, using a sharp chef’s knife, carefully slice the stuffed steaks across the grain into 1/2″ slices. Divide the stuffed steak slices evenly on the toasted rolls, and serve hot.