Oven Baked Sandwich with Raspberry Balsamic Butter

Oven Sammich

After last week’s lively debate on the pros and cons of long vs. short recipe titles (loved your thoughts, thank you), today I’m hitting you up with the whole shebang. Well, almost. I omitted a few ingredients from the title so as not to overwhelm.

At times I need to revise my menu plan to focus on the folks in front of me (’tis far, far better to spend time with people than my stove), and The Man Of Few Words has an unpredictable work schedule and an appetite to match. I never know if he’ll walk through the door ravenous as a grizzly or in ‘snack mode.’

My solution is to throw together whatever’s lurking in the fridge and present it in “new & improved” form (shhh…) and this sandwich was the result of one of those occasions.

Oven Baked Sandwich with Raspberry Balsamic Butter

1/2 loaf of Italian Bread (or other rustic-style bread), split horizontally

Slices of leftover Roast Beef

Slices of Sharp Cheddar cheese

Thinly sliced red onions (I used caramelized onions*)

Sliced mushrooms

Roasted red peppers, drained (I used the jarred kind)

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Red & green lettuce leaves

Raspberry Balsamic Butter

4 Tbsp. butter, softened

1 Tbsp. whole grain Dijon mustard

1/2 Tbsp. raspberry balsamic vinegar (or to taste)

1 Tbsp. capers, drained

(*Caramelized onions are marvelous in this, but they require at least an hour of prep, unless you happen to keep a stash on hand like me…)

Combine Raspberry Balsamic Butter ingredients; set aside.

Place a piece of tinfoil large enough to accommodate the “stuffed” sandwich on a sturdy baking sheet. Preheat oven to 375° F.

In a large skillet, sauté mushrooms until nearly browned. Add roasted red peppers (pat dry, if needed) and stir until heated through.

Slather interior of bread with Raspberry Balsamic Butter, then layer with roast beef and cheese slices. Top with caramelized (or red) onions, mushrooms and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Close the sandwich (as best you can) and wrap in tinfoil.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until beef is heated through and cheese is melted. If you prefer a “crispier” sandwich, open the foil during the last 5 minutes of baking.

Transfer to a serving platter, insert lettuce leaves at will, slice, serve, and enjoy!

Oven Sammich 3

~  .  ~  .  ~  .  ~

For you football fans out there, this is an easy ‘make-ahead’ for Superbowl weekend. Assemble earlier in the day, wrap and refrigerate, then heat and eat. (Adjust baking time as needed.) This made 4 servings; feel free to multiply.

Spend time with the people you love!

Enjoying punting in the kitchen,

~ Kim

Do you cook for a spontaneous eater?

Swiss Steak ala Alton Brown

Sporadic blog post alert…

My schedule is absolutely insane the next two weeks, so I’m relying on your good graces and a few one-dish wonders to see me through.

It’s not that I bite off more than I can chew, it’s just that piano players are in demand this time of year.  I’m talkin’ seven rehearsals, four gigs, two performances, the children’s Christmas program, and a guest speaking engagement I volunteered to do without checking my calendar first (!) — which includes playing the piano.  Basically “a partridge in a pear tree” kind of insane.

Speaking of biting off more than you can chew…

Back in the 80’s there was a fast food commercial that amused me no end.  In it, a feisty ol’ lady would holler, “Where’s the beef?!”

(Remember that?)

I thought of it the other day when I divided up a chuck roast — half of it for “roast,” a fourth cut into cubes for stew, and the rest sliced and pounded for Swiss Steak.  Three meals outta one roast ain’t bad!

My meal planning was also assisted by a giveaway I won.  (Thank you, Jenny at Savour The Senses — what a treat!)

I’d never used Muir Glen tomatoes before, so I wanted to make something special with them.  Let’s see… one for manicotti, one for Super Nachos, one for stew, and one for Swiss Steak.  Four meals outta one gift box ain’t bad either!

Getting back to the topic at hand, it had been awhile since I made Swiss Steak and I didn’t want to make just any ol’ version of it with those delectable tomatoes.  Lo and behold, Alton Brown’s name came up in my search… and you know how I feel about Alton Brown.

So, I sauteed and stirred to my heart’s content (in between piano practice) and shouted, “Where’s the beef?!” — just for fun.

Swiss Steak ala Alton Brown

(adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe on Food Network)

1 lb. chuck roast (uncooked), sliced against the grain

1 tsp. Kosher salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 c. flour

2 Tbsp. bacon drippings

1 medium onion, sliced into rings

1/2 c. celery, chopped

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen, woohoo!)

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika (regular is fine, too)

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

3/4 c. beef broth (I used homemade beef stock)

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Slice roast into “cutlet” sized pieces; season with salt and pepper.

Place flour in a pie tin (or on a plate); dredge meat in flour.

Place meat between two sheets of plastic wrap; pound until thin.  (I used my rolling pin to aid and abet this process.)

Dredge meat in flour again; shake off excess and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil or drippings in a Dutch oven ’til shimmering.

Add a few slices of beef at a time (don’t crowd); sauté until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.  Set aside to drain on paper towels.

In the same pan, add onion and celery; sauté until softened.

Add remaining ingredients; stir well.

Add browned meat, submerging slices in the liquid.

Cover and bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is fork tender.

Swiss Steak

Optional:  Holler “Where’s the beef?!” once in awhile, just for fun. :)

Enjoying temporary insanity,

~ Kim

Boeuf… It’s What’s For Dinner

I don’t speak a lick of French, but I love the cooking terms.  They make me feel more animated.  (Not that I need any help in that department.)  Try saying ragout without a hearty goo on the second syl-la-ble, or mirepoix without a saucy little kiss at the end.  (Julia Child I’m not, but there’s joie de vivre in my kitchen!)

Earlier this month, we feasted on a fabulous roast infused with garlic and smeared with Dijon.  “Pardon me, but would you happen to have...  (Yes, the chauffeur was undeniably British, but Grey Poupon remains indelibly etched in my mind.)

After we ate our fill, I relegated the rest to the freezer for future consideration.  Then inspiration struck.  Voila!  Ragout.

Traditionally, ragout is prepared by searing fresh cubes of meat and simmering them to perfection.  However, my schedule requires speeding things up now and then — kinda like being on “Chopped” in the comfort of my own home, without Ted Allen.

But no matter how rushed I am, a mirepoix is a must.  The marvel of this 2:1:1 ratio of onions, carrots and celery cannot be overstated.  (Unless you dice the onions last — then it’s 1:1:2.)

Confession.  For all of my French word frenzy, I forgot to add one vital ingredient: Cabernet.  I dispensed it in a goblet instead…

Weeknight Ragout

Leftover roast beef (preferrably using this recipe)

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 c. onion, diced

1/2 c. carrot, diced

1/2 c. celery, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 c. beef broth or bouillon — another fun word!

1 c. red potatoes (unpeeled), cubed

1 fresh tomato, seeded and chopped

Cabernet, to taste…

1/4 t. ground thyme

Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

Green onion tops sliced diagonally, for garnish

Cut the roast into cubes; set aside.  Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or heavy kettle, sauté the onions, carrots and celery in oil until translucent.  (Take your time — “sweating” brings out the maximum flavor.)  Add garlic; sauté briefly until fragrant.

Pour in broth and bring mixture to a boil.  Add potatoes and tomato.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until potatoes are barely tender.  If desired, add wine.  (Or not…)  Stir in beef and thyme.  Simmer until heated through.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Ladle into bowls.  Garnish with green onion tops.  Makes 2 lovely servings.

One last thing.  Ragout is generally more of a stew, thickened with a roux.  Woohoo.  But I was content with the way this turned out, so I served it au naturel. ;)  C’est la vie!

Enjoying ma petite foray in the kitchen,

~ Kim