Steak tastes better with wine than beer. I do not care how passionately Garrett Oliver argues that the rich roasted malt flavour in an English Porter compliments the charred caramelized exterior of a grilled piece of beef. Cabernet Sauvignon is king when it comes to steak. Beer is certainly not offensive alongside steak, but it is just not number one. Steak Sandwich on the other hand, is a whole different story.
A steak sandwich is beautiful thing and can be tasty a pub staple. But sadly this sandwich is often times massacred by a passionless line cook who places a thin cheap slice of beef on a soggy piece of garlic bread which is than called a steak sandwich – tragic. A proper steak sandwich, that combines crispy fried onions, toasted bread, a 21 day dry-aged (minimum) piece of beef and perhaps a thin layer a blue cheese compound butter with hint of grainy mustard, stands firmly in a beer territory. Wine simply cannot handle these diverse flavour combination, but beer can.
The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the world’s most talented brewmasters; many specializing in hop heavy ales. The relatively new style of beer known as a Cascadian Dark Ale is the perfect match for a Steak Sandwich. The Cascadian Dark Ale is in essence a brown ale or porter combined with the hop profile of an IPA. The roasted malt flavours in this new beer compliment a charred steak while the crisp hop flavours balance the power of blue cheese and the sweetness of fried onions. The Cascadian Dark Ale was brewed for the steak sandwich.
Over the weekend I decided that it was time to work towards creating the ultimate steak sandwich. Here is the recipe from my first attempt:
- Thinly slice an onion into rings (a shallot may work even better) and coat with a mixture of half flour and half cornstarch. Let the rings sit until ready for frying.
- Heat frying oil to 360 F in a pot with high sides and fry the onions until golden brown.
The Compound Butter
- Mix together half room temperate butter and half blue cheese.
- Season the steak with salt and pepper (be heavy handed with the salt and pepper) and grill to medium rare. My choice of steak for this is the T-bone as it combines both the strip loin and the tenderloin and when sliced and mixed together the flavours and textures of the two cuts work well together. If the steak is not dry aged for at least 21 days it is no good. My butcher in Langley, Heritage Meats, dry ages their beef for 30 days and although it is pricey, it is worth it. If your butcher can’t tell you how long they hang their beef I suggest you shop somewhere else.
- Let the steak rest for 3-4 minutes and thinly slice the steak. Pour any resting juices over the sliced steak.
- Grill slices of quality bread (not Wonder Bread) over high heat until lightly charred. Rub a clove of garlic over the grilled bread – this will give a nice garlic flavour to the bread.
- Thinly spread the compound butter on the bottom of the toasted bread. Spread a very thin layer of grainy mustard on the top (the lid) of the sandwich.
- Place the steak slices on the bread with the compound butter.
- pile the crispy fried onion over the steak
- pile fresh arugula or any other flavourful salad greens over the onions
- Close the sandwich and enjoy – some people like an open faced sandwich and omit the lid, which is fine I suppose.
- Enjoy with any dark hoppy beer. My choice was Deschutes Hop in the Dark. This is a delicious beer brewed by one of my favourite brewers.