Football season is here! Growing up with three older brothers and a dad who were all rabid sports fans, I always smile when I hear the Monday Night Football theme, a college band playing their fight song, or watch the crowds begin to gather for our local team's (Go Niners!) home games. That means I have the perfect excuse to make tailgating food – either at the game or at home.
Tailgating doesn’t have to be limited to just the stadium parking lot. Why not set up a party with your neighbors? You can all set up chairs outside and start the party earlier in the day, grilling delicious foods together, then head indoors to watch the game. You can have nearly the same experience as if you were at the stadium.
Did you know that tailgating has been around a lot longer than the old family station wagon? Town folks gathered to watch battles during the Civil War, bringing food and beverages with them, and the western chuck wagon provided the same type of outdoor cooking over live fire as we have with barbecues - just a little more rustic. We still crave the flavors of meats cooked over fire which is why pillars of smoke fill the parking lot for hours before game time.
The foods people serve while tailgating run the gamut from cheap and easy to high end and fancy. Some people bring pre-made sandwiches, others prepare entire meals in the parking lot. No matter how you plan to celebrate, make sure that all your foods are kept cold enough to be safe. You can never have too much ice!
For me the perfect game day food is big, fat, messy sandwiches jammed with grilled meats and slathered with sauces. Steak is one of my favorites, but high-end cuts are too expensive to make for a large crowd. When I am hosting the gang, I turn to cuts like Chateaubriand, London Broil, or flank steak to save money and give everyone the beef they crave. A larger piece of meat is easier to carve and you are less tempted to serve huge portions. Chateaubriand is more tender and flank steak needs to be cut against the grain to reduce the toughness, but they all make great options for sandwiches.
Use a good cutting board with a moat to catch the juices. I like Epicurean boards and have several. I got the big one just for carving roasts, chickens, and turkeys. They are two-sided giving you even more cutting area. To keep it from sliding around while you're working, lay a square or strip of flexible shelf liner underneath it. The board won't move at all! And use a very sharp carving knife or slicer for easily cutting the thinnest slices.
Today's sandwiches are the perfect meal for your football parties, whether at the stadium or at home – and have the added benefit of being completely gluten-free (as long as you use gluten-free bread or provide lettuce leaves as wraps) for those with dietary concerns. If you are using the lettuce, melt the cheese over slices of beef on a baking sheet and then wrap right before serving. Enjoy!
Cheesy Grilled Steak Sandwich (Gluten-Free)
© 2015 Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook. All rights reserved.
Yield: 6 servings
Horseradish Mayonnaise (optional)
1/2 cup Lite mayonnaise
2 tbsp to 1/4 cup prepared horseradish, to taste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup A-1 sauce (it is gluten-free)
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins brand is gluten-free)
2 tbsp honey mustard
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp to 1 tbsp chipotle powder, depending on how spicy your family likes their foods
1/2 cup olive oil
2 to 3 lb Chateaubriand or London Broil, about 2 inches thick
6 large torpedo or Hoagie rolls, split in half (gluten-free if needed)
Softened butter, for rolls
Sliced tomatoes, optional
1/8- to 1/4-inch thick slices of cheese such as provolone, Monterey Jack, pepper jack (for more heat), Muenster or other favorite
Make Horseradish Mayonnaise: In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, horseradish, and garlic powder until smooth. Cover and refrigerate.
Marinate Beef: In a medium bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients. Whisk together until smooth and pour into a large resealable plastic bag. Add the beef to the bag, press out the air, and seal shut. Flip the bag a few times to get all surfaces of the meat coated.
Lay flat on a small baking sheet and refrigerate. Leave to marinate for several hours or up to a day, flipping the bag several times to make sure all sides of the meat are submerged in the marinade.
Grill the Beef: Preheat yourgas grill for 15 minutes on high or build a hot charcoal fire. If you have multiple burners, you only need one lit. The rest can be left off.
Use the tongs to remove the meat from the marinade and transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet, using extra paper towels to pat the entire roast dry on all sides. This will help you get a good sear on all sides without steaming the beef. Discard the marinade.
Use the tongs to place the meat on the grill over direct heat. (After placing the raw meat on the grill, wash the tongs to avoid any cross contamination.) Reduce the temperature to medium high and cook about 4 to 5 minutes per side * or until you have nice grill marks and an instant read thermometer registers 130°F-135°F for medium rare.
If the meat sticks to the grill when you try to flip to the second side, let it cook a minute or two longer. It will release easily when it is ready to flip. Don't worry about taking the meat off the heat while still underdone. It will continue to cook while it is resting so pull it earlier for perfect level of doneness.
Transfer the beef to a clean baking sheet, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest about 15 minutes. This gives the meat time to gently finish cooking with the residual heat, allowing the juices to redistribute throughout the roast. Leave the grill on.
Grill the buns. Lightly brush the cut sides of each roll with butter and place them butter-side-down on the hot grill. Cook just until the bread is lightly toasted and has some grill marks. Remove from the grill. Reduce the grill heat to medium low.
Assemble Sandwiches: Transfer the beef to a cutting board and slice thinly on the diagonal against the grain. Brush the buns with the horseradish mayonnaise (if desired). Add some tomatoes if you like them. Place several slices of beef on the bottom half of each roll, overlapping them slightly. Top with the cheese and place back on the grill, over one of the cooler burners or on the rack above the grates for gentle heat.
Close the grill and heat until the cheese melts. Use a spatula to transfer the hot sandwiches to serving plates. Place the tops on the sandwiches and serve immediately.
* If you are using flank steak, strip steak, or other thin cut, they will only need a few minutes on each side over high heat. They tend to have less fat and can become dry and tough if over cooked. You want to serve them about medium-rare for the best flavor and texture.