Friday, July 17, 2015

Open Face Buffalo Steak Sandwich with Portobello Gravy, Mashed Chive Potatoes & Beer Batter Vidalia Onion Rings

     Classic American West Diner Style Comfort Cuisine!
     American Bison is better known as Buffalo.  Buffalo is still considered to be a wild game meat.  Buffalo are not hunted anymore, but they are raised as free range herd animals.  Just because they are farmed on an open range does not mean these animals are tame.  Buffalo may look docile, but they can charge without warning.
     The flavor of buffalo is stronger than beef, milder than deer and very clean tasting.  Buffalo are not raised on special feed or given any livestock drugs.  The meat is very lean, so a buffalo steak must be cooked rare to medium rare or the meat will be very tough.

     I have not seen Open Face Steak Sandwiches on any American diner menus in recent years.  An Open Face Steak Sandwich was once the grandest entrée on a diner lunch menu!  At small town diners, the Open Face Steak Sandwich entrées were usually ordered by small town "big wigs" or local VIP's.  When cooks saw an order for an open face steak sandwich, they made sure that the sandwich was made perfectly.  Usually a manager stepped into the kitchen to make sure that the Open Face Steak Sandwich was fit for a king.

     The term "Open Face Sandwich" means that the bread is placed under the meat and there is no top slice of bread on the sandwich.  Sliced roast turkey or sliced roast beef are the most popular Open Face Sandwiches.  These kinds of Open Face Sandwiches are always smothered with gravy.  They are always served with mashed potatoes and a vegetable.
     An Open Face Steak Sandwich is a little bit different than a standard Open Face Sandwich.  An Open Face Steak Sandwich always garnished with Onion Rings.  Gravy is poured over the sandwich  if it is served with mashed potatoes.  When served with French Fries, bottled steak sauce is offered on the side.
     Beef Streak is the standard for diner style Open Face Steak Sandwiches.  I have never seen a restaurant offer an Open Face Buffalo Steak Sandwich.  An Open Face Buffalo Steak Sandwich might possibly be found on a restaurant menu in a small town somewhere out west.  Who knows?

     Early in my career, I was cooking in a fine French café.  The French chef really liked old fashioned American diner food.  I was the sous chef at the café and the French chef gave me the "green light" to serve a few American diner entrées as lunch specials.
     I ran an Open Face Steak Sandwich garnished with a stack of onion rings at that café one day, as a special du jour.  I broke the cafe's single day all time sales record that day!  The old fashioned diner style Open Face Steak Sandwich was a smash hit at that ritzy French café!  I actually went through 5 whole sirloin sections of beef that day.  The sandwich steak portion was 10 ounces, so that adds up to a huge amount of steaks served during one lunch session!
     I never put the open face steak sandwich on the special board again after that day.  Then again, there was no need to!  The regular customers verbally ordered that steak sandwich "off of the menu" after that one very busy day.  What a customer wants, is what a customer gets!
     At a fancy French café, customers occasionally seek easy to recognize comfort food every so often.  Offering a fancy French comfort food version of a classic American diner Open Face Steak Sandwich as a special du jour is not a bad idea for a fancy French café chef.  This item definitely sells!  

     Portobello Gravy: 
     This recipe yields about 1 1/3 cups.
     Of course this sauce is made diner style!
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring.
     Constantly stir, till the roux becomes a dark brown color.  
     Step 2:  Add 1 pinch of chopped garlic.
     Add 2 cups of beef broth.
     Whisk occasionally, till the gravy comes to a gentle boil and it thickens to a very thin sauce consistency.  
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Add 1/3 cup of sliced small portobello mushrooms.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of sage.
     Step 4:  Simmer and reduce, till the gravy is a medium thin consistency that easily coats a spoon.
     Keep the portobello gravy warm over low heat.  Add a splash of water if it gets too thick.

     Mashed Chive Potatoes:  
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Boil 6 ounces of peeled russet potato in salted water, till the potato is soft enough to mash.
     Drain the water off of the potato and leave the potato in the pot.  Keep the warm pot off of the heat.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cream.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin sliced fresh chives or dried chives.
     Whisk the potato mixture, till it is smooth and creamy.
     Step 3:  Place the mashed chive potatoes into a star tipped pastry bag.
     Keep the pastry bag of mashed chive potatoes warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Beer Batter Vidalia Onion Rings:
     This recipe yields about 8 to 10 rings.
     Onion rings are the traditional marquis signature garnish for an Open Face Steak Sandwich at diner restaurants.  Make enough onion rings to create a tall stack of onion rings on the steak.  The onion rings are what gives an open face steak sandwich such great eye appeal! 
     Vidalia onions are sweet onions.  The nice flavor of vidalia onions will be noticed when prepared as beer battered onion rings. 
     Step 1:  Pour a 12 ounce can of American domestic lager beer or pilsner into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 2 pinches of turmeric.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 2:  Add a little bit of all purpose flour at a time, while whisking, till it becomes a medium thick batter consistency.  (The beer batter should be as thick as old fashioned buttermilk pancake batter.)
     Step 3:  Cut 1 large vidalia onion into 3/4" to 1/2" thick slices.
     Separate the onion rings.
     *Save the onion center and smaller rings for another recipe.  The larger onion rings are preferred for making fried onion rings.  About 8 large onion rings are enough for a generous garnish portion.
     Step 4:  Heat 8" of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360ºF.
     Dredge 8 large vidalia onion slices in flour.
     Place 2 to 3 onion rings at a time in the beer batter.
     Coat the onion rings evenly with the beer batter.
     Step 5:  Drop one beer battered onion ring in the hot fryer oil at a time, so the onion rings do not stick together.
     Use a fryer net to turn the onion rings over occasionally.
     Fry the onions rings, till they are a golden color and the coating is crispy.
     Step 6:  Use a fryer net to place the fried onion rings on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Keep the beer batter onion rings warm on a stove top.

     Open Face American Bison Steak Sandwich with Portobello Gravy, Mashed Chive Potatoes & Beer Batter Vidalia Onion Rings:
     This recipe yields 1 sandwich.
     Step 1:  Cut a piece of French Boule Loaf or a sub sandwich roll into a thick slice that is about the same size as a Buffalo Steak.
     Brush the bread with melted unsalted butter.
     Grill the bread on a griddle over medium/medium low heat, till it toasted golden brown.
     Keep it warm on a stove top.
     Step 2:  Heat a cast iron ribbed griddle or a chargrill to a medium/medium high temperature.
     Step 3:  Brush an 8 to 10 ounce American Bison New York Strip Steak with a little bit of melted butter.
     Season the bison steak with sea salt and black pepper.
     Grill the bison steak on both sides, till it is cooked rare to medium rare.  (Be sure to make cross-check grill marks on the bison steak!)
     Step 4:  Place the bison steak on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan and let it rest for 1 minute.
     Step 5:  Set the grilled bison steak on top of the grilled bread on a plate.
     Pipe the mashed chive potatoes on the plate next to the bison steak.
     Spoon a generous amount of the portobello gravy over the middle of the bison steak and over the mashed chive potatoes.
     Place a vegetable of your choice on the plate.  (Buttered corn on the cob is a good choice.)
     Step 6:  Pierce a trimmed whole green onion lengthwise with a long bamboo skewer.
     Vertically spear the skewered green onion into the steak and bread.
     Place the beer batter onion rings over the green onion skewer, so that they are loosely stacked high on top of each other.  (The green onion skewer garnish will hold the onion rings in place.)
     Garnish the plate with an Italian Parsley sprig.

     Viola!  A classic American diner style gourmet Open Face Buffalo Steak Sandwich!  

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