By Bren Herrera, contributing writer
I considered becoming a vegetarian about 3 years ago. I grew up around a lot of vegetarians and have tasted amazing meatless dishes. But, while I was pondering the pros and cons, it occurred to me that I’m already missing out on shellfish and other seafood, albeit by choice. Completely eliminating all meat would be a culinary tragedy for me. I’m not a glutton, but I do love to eat.good.food.
Since I decided to continue my life as a carnivore, it’s important for me to understand the quality of the beef or chicken I’m eating. I started looking at animal feeding practices (part of professional responsibility, too). We all know we are what we eat, and I’ll be darned if I don’t know what’s going into my youthful bod.
2 months ago when I met Brandt Beef representatives while visiting Dean & DeLuca, I grilled the resident chef on what makes Brandt different and why I should add them to my choices of protein. While I was schooled on Brandt’s cattle routines, I munched on a chunky guac sandwich chef was making using flat iron steaks. It was so delicioso, all I could do was nod my head to their cows, which are fed a vegetarian, corn-based diet and raised naturally, without hormones or antibiotics.
I was glad to hear (and see) that Brandt offers my favorite cuts: tongue and oxtail. These are a rarity in American cuisine, but very common in Latin and Caribbean homes and restaurants. I’m looking forward to trying Brandt’s versions of these uncommon cuts, but as tempting as they were, I went straight for Brandt’s Bavette steaks. I knew if the Bavettes were anything like their flat iron steaks, they were definitely after my palate.
I used the Bavettes to make a Latin-influenced sandwich, since they’re cut thin enough to pan-sear or fry and take much less time to cook than an average cut. To put a creative twist on my sandwich, I basted Cuban bread with this robust and ultra garlicky pesto, instead of olive oil. While basil is commonly used in Latin cuisine, pesto is not so ubiquitous. I thought adding it to the mix would give my sandwich that perfect fusion element, without losing the essence of Latin flavors.
It all worked out! Garlic was well in check, the tenderness and juiciness of the steak was where I wanted it to be and the stacking process worked just as it should. I surprised those inquisitive taste buds of mine with some slices of Manchego cheese, which sparked intense table talk with my visiting friends.
Enjoy this fusion steak sandwich for lunch or dinner. It’s going to be a hit, no matter how often you make it.
Pesto & Garlicky Cuban-Style Steak Sandwich
Serves 1 to 2
6″ Cuban bread, inside dough removed*
1 fillet Brandt Beef Bavette
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 1/2 tsp. Pesto alla Genovese
1 heaping tbsp. garlic, minced
2 slices of Manchego cheese
1 chunky slice heirloom tomato
1 cap full olive oil
4-5 slices of shallots
On a medium plate, marinate the steak with lemon and orange juices and fresh garlic for 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate. In medium skillet, heat olive oil. Using tongs, place steak in heated skillet and sear steak for 6-7 minutes on each side. Before removing from heat, add remaining marinade from plate. While steak is cooking, butter inside and outside of bread. Using a stove-top grill, toast bread on each side until you have nice char lines. Remove steak from heat, place on cutting board and let cool. Cut steak down the middle, lengthwise and then into 2 additional pieces along grain. Spread basil pesto on both sides of bread. Place steak pieces on bottom half of bread. Layer on cheese, tomato and shallots. Close your sandwich and bite!
*You can choose to leave the dough inside the bread and split steak for two sandwiches. If so, double the ingredients except for steak.