I know the trend these days is toward healthy eating and I do my share but I am an omnivore through and through, and nothing short of a doctor’s order is going to keep me from eating my beef! I love it too much. One of my favorite cuts of red meat is the Chateaubriand (cha-toe-bree-ahn), a center cut filet. Very tender and beefy, it makes wonderful roast beef sandwiches. Slice it thin for casual meals or thicker for a more formal dinner.
You can roast this in the oven as I’ve directed below, or for even more robust flavor, cook it on a medium-hot barbecue. Start it over the hot coals to sear the exterior and then move it to the cooler side of the grill, cover and let cook more slowly. It will only take about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Watch carefully and pull before it overcooks. You can always finish it in the oven or microwave if it is slightly underdone. Then, as with all meats, let it rest for at least 10 to 15 minutes before slicing to allow the juices to migrate back into the center of the roast.
You may have seen watercress on your plate at fine restaurants, but many people don’t know to use this delightful green. Be the first one on your block and everyone will call you a gourmet! Cress is one of the oldest greens to be consumed by humans and is loved for its light peppery taste. Surprisingly, it is a member of the cabbage family and related to mustard. It is one of the most successful hydroponically grown plants – a technology worth watching. I guess the English really knew what they were doing when they decided that watercress sandwiches were perfect for afternoon Tea because as with most greens, it is packed full of nutrients and appears to have cancer-suppressing properties!
Artisan breads are getting a lot of press these days, and with good reason. They are warm, comforting, and hearken back to simpler times. The term “artisan” is often casually used, but in truth it pertains to any product made by hand by a skilled craftsman in the traditional methods. If you see a loaf of bread made by a mass-production corporation labeled “artisan” it is just a marketing ploy. Always look for the craggy, rough looking loaves that have obviously been formed by hand. When you cut it open, the large holes in the soft center of the bread, “the crumb” shows the inconsistencies that come from hand kneading. The rustic look is nearly impossible to reproduce en masse and guarantees that someone took a lot of care and time to produce it for you. I urge you to break out of your comfort zone and try these fresh loaves of bread for sandwiches and many other uses. While “the best thing since sliced bread” is considered a virtue, you may discover that slicing your own is exactly what you’ve been missing!
The days of slapping a slice of bologna on white bread are long over – thank goodness. These beef and watercress sandwiches are perfect for weekend lunches, tailgates, casual parties, poker games, or Football Sundays! You can serve them as directed or open-faced with melted cheese over the top. I like Swiss or maybe pepper Jack for some nice heat. No matter how you make them, I hope you enjoy the rich beefy goodness!
- Beef Rub
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp ancho chili powder
- 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 tsp olive oil, divided
- 1 Chateaubriand roast or London Broil, at room temperature
- Basil Aioli
- 3 tbsp prepared basil pesto sauce (available at most grocery stores, usually near the deli items)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (low-fat or Lite are fine)
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated garlic
- 1 tsp drained, smashed capers
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sandwich Fillings
- 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 4 large shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, gills removed, caps thickly sliced
- 1 cup beef broth
- 8 slices of focaccia, ciabatta, soft torpedo rolls, or other artisan breads
- Thinly sliced fresh ripe tomatoes, if in season
- 2 to 3 cups watercress, arugula, or baby spinach, well rinsed and patted dry, thick stems discarded
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- In a small bowl combine rub ingredients: onion and garlic powders, ancho and chipotle powders, oregano, salt, black pepper, and 2 tsp of the olive oil. Stir to make a paste. Rub all over roast with your hands.
- In an oven-proof skillet, heat remaining 2 tsp oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Brown meat on all sides. Transfer pan to oven and roast until meat’s internal temperature reaches 140°F for medium-rare. Remove pan from oven. Transfer meat to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest for at least 10 minutes.
- NOTE: Keep a towel or hot pad draped over handle of hot pan after you bring it out of the oven to avoid burning yourself!
- While beef is cooking, prepare Basil Aioli and sandwich fillings: In a medium skillet on medium heat, saute onions for 15 to 20 minutes or until deep golden brown. Stir in mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Add broth, bring to a boil and cook until reduced to a glaze, stirring occasionally. This will only take a few minutes so watch carefully. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
- While onions are cooking, stir prepared pesto and then measure out the 3 tbsp and place in a small bowl. Mix in mayonnaise, garlic, and capers. Taste and add salt or pepper as needed. Set aside.
- Using a very sharp slicing knife, thinly slice beef. Store whatever beef you don't use on the sandwiches in a container with the pan juices and any residual juices left on cutting board. This helps keep the meat moist and flavorful. Store in the refrigerator.
- Lay slices of bread on a cutting board and smear each with a little of the basil aioli. Top half of the slices with a little of the watercress or other greens and some of the onions/mushroom mixture. Place some of the slices of beef and a few tomato slices over the onions. Top with remaining slices of bread, basil side down. Cut each sandwich in half on the diagonal and serve immediately.