Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Steak sandwiches with caramelized onions & goat cheese

Exactly one week ago I returned from my first adventure in the town of Savannah, Georgia.  Having some time to reflect on my trip, I can say that I've learned a few things about life, leisure, and, of course, food. Allow me to share them with you, as well as the most unbelievably simple and delicious steak sandwich you've ever seen.

1. Vacations need not be jam-packed with plans.  Throw out itineraries, and bring only a short list of places you absolutely can't miss.  We pretty much woke up each day and said to each other, "What should we do today?"  If we wanted to walk somewhere, we walked.  If we wanted to shop, we found a place to shop (and found wedding things!).  And, if we wanted to just wander aimlessly, sit, and stare at our gorgeous surroundings, we did just that.  After all, it's vacation!  A time to relax and just enjoy a break from your daily routine.

2. If you try to follow an itinerary, the South will crush it like a little bug.  I'll admit to being a super organized type A personality, while Laura is a cool-as-a-cucumber type B person.  Ying and yang, if you will.  But even she found herself craving order after a while.  Every day we encountered things that would never happen in the north -- public transportation "out of order" with no warning and no sign of a return.  Businesses that would be closed for hours at a time for a simple lunch break (siesta, anyone?).  And stores with signs like these:

I kid you not, that is an actual sign on the door of a business!  Frustrating? Very much so.  Necessary?  Quite possibly.  Little quirks like this kept us laid-back and relaxed.  (See point #1.)  Another example -- we picked up a brochure for Tybee Island and wanted to visit the lighthouse.  Got there and discovered it was closed... and is closed every Tuesday of the year.  Did the brochure or the visitor center indicate this?  Nope!  Did we let it ruin our day?  Heck no!  We laughed and just kept going.

3. Simple food is great food.  Sometimes restaurants get caught up in showcasing the most exotic ingredients available and creating unique flavor combinations, trying to wow each and every patron. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.  Looking back on all of the incredible food we ate, I noticed a pattern -- fresh ingredients, big portions, and little filler.  Restaurants in the South know what's up!  Fried green tomatoes, okra, lots of greens, blackened salmon, even basic grits were allowed to shine on serving plates.  My two very favorite foods of the trip though?  The ones that I can still taste if I concentrate enough?  Buttermilk biscuits from Vic's and The Lady and Sons' chicken pot pie.  It doesn't get much simpler than that, folks!

Or does it?  I took a cue from vacation for last night's dinner and prepared a super easy steak sandwich, perfect to combat the dreary skies and buckets of rain outside.  But not just any steak sandwich.  This one is loaded with sweet caramelized onions, tangy goat cheese, and spicy Dijon mustard on a chewy baguette.  Mm mm mmm!

Oh how thankful I was for this dinner.  A hearty grown-up kind of sandwich was just the ticket last night.  A "save this yucky day" kind of meal.  I carved out a little of the bread on each side of the baguette so I could stuff the sandwich to the gills.  And, boy, did I pack that sandwich full!

As quickly as this came together, you'd think I would've wolfed it down in no time at all.  Instead, I restrained myself, turned off the TV (what?!  no Family Guy?!) and savored every single bite of this monstrous sandwich.  No ordinary sandwich indeed.  This was a sandwich that saved my Tuesday!  :)

One Year Ago: Ham, apple, and Brie sandwich (apparently I get sandwich cravings this time of year)

Steak Sandwiches with Goat Cheese
-serves 4

A few notes: I like my steak rather rare, but cook yours as you like it.  If you have a grill, even better!  Finally, components of this can be made ahead -- caramelize the onions and cook and slice the steak and store each in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 boneless rib-eye steaks (each about 1 pound and 1 inch thick), excess fat removed
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 medium yellow onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 (14-16 inch) baguette, split
3 ounces fresh goat cheese, room temperature
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

Preheat 1 tablespoon oil in nonstick pan over medium high heat. Season steaks with salt and pepper. Cook 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate; let rest 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add remaining tablespoon of oil and cook onions on low heat until tender and golden brown.  Transfer to a plate.

Assemble sandwiches:  Thinly slice steaks against the grain.  Dividing evenly, spread top halves of bread with cheese, and bottom halves with mustard.  Pile steak and onion on bottom halves; close sandwiches. Cut and serve immediately.


  1. tip #4: be prepared for "no availability"

  2. So true, my travel companion, so true! And, tip #5: Answer your phone, the one that you list as a business contact, with anything other than, "Uh, yeah?"

  3. That's southern hospitality, eh?