Friday, May 9, 2008

Hoagie Beef

Do you ever feel like the universe is trying to tell you something? For the past couple of weeks, everywhere I turn ... newspaper, tv, blogs ... I'm greeted with sumptuous photos and recipes for hoagie style hot beef sandwiches. You know the kind ... yummy hoagie style bread layered with steamy, thinly shaved roast beef. Some are smothered in savory toppings like sauted golden onion slivers, or roasted peppers, or creamy cheese sauce. Are you salivating yet? These sandwiches are not for the faint hearted. It's the type of thing you envision lumberjacks requesting after wrestling with trees. It's a chewy sandwich and requires a supersize drink to wash it down. It can stand on it's own without the addition of lettuce or tomato, and a simple salad is a perfect accompaniment. A half portion is perfect for me for lunch, but nothing less than two will do for hubby man. My 12 year old son, who prefers his plain -- meat and bread -- would snarf down as many as I would allow -- but then he's a growing boy, quite lumberjack sized himself!

Today, as I was assembling the ingredients for this feast of a sandwich, my young man followed his nose into the kitchen and announced that he'd like to make one, too. Picture me, deer-in-headlights look followed by two rapid, hard blinks, responding, "Did you say you wanted to make one?" My son, my oldest, my "mom, please-do-this-for-me" child, was unphased by my dumbfounded expression and says, "Yeah, can I make one?" He then launches into his explanation of how he makes his grilled cheese sandwiches and that this wouldn't be that much different. All the while, I'm standing there blinking over and over until his next words shake me free of the trance. "Mom, just tell me what to do." I'm thinking to myself, "Well, son, first you can peel me off the floor and help me adjust to the fact that you asked to do something for yourself instead wanting me to do it for you." At that very moment, just like the scene in the movie When The Grinch Stole Christmas when the Grinch's heart grew, my inner-mama's heart got all warm and fuzzy as I realized that my little man is indeed growing up and will be able to take care of himself. This is what we mom's do ... prepare our kids to venture out into new self-reliant territory. It was a good moment, a little bittersweet, but still very good. In all fairness, my young man has been maturing by degrees this past year. Just this past week, he's made his own breakfasts, and now he's making steak sandwiches.

This sandwich is a cousin to a french dip and is so easy to assemble. All you need to do is make a simple white sauce and as soon as it's thickened, whisk in some good quality provolone cheese. You could substitute whatever cheese you like .. a combo of mozzerella and parmesean would be good. Remove from heat; sauce should be smooth and fairly thick. Season the sauce with several grinds of black pepper and a dash of sea salt. For the meat, slice steak as thin as you possibly can ... super thin ... thinner than paper thin. Quickly saute it in a non-stick pan, seasoning it as you prefer. Remove it from the pan, and place it on a plate, cover with plastic wrap or a paper plate to "steam" the meat. Add a teaspoon of olive oil to the pan you prepared the meat in, and saute sliced sweet onion just until the onion starts to soften. Now assemble your sandwich. Slice the hoagie roll open without cutting all the way through. Spoon some sauce on the bottom, layer a heaping portion of steak, and top with onions. My littlest offspring, who can't have wheat, eats her steak rolled in soft corn tortillas ... hold the sauce, pile on the onions.

My next venture will be to make a hoagie style sandwich using pulled pork. Yummm, maybe with some coleslaw to go with it. Southern Italian folk smile upon pork recipes, and I'm, you guessed it, of southern Italian heritage. Check out Marjie's version of a great pulled pork sandwich. My son just about crawled through the screen to get at her posted photo.

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