Editor's Note: Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot, the great minds behind the influential blog Ideas in Food, and the cookbooks Ideas in Food and Maximum Flavor, will be sharing their wisdom and clever cooking ideas here on Serious Eats, as they reinvent classic dishes with the aim of getting the most flavor out of them.
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Yesterday we showed you how to make the salami-spiked rolls for our reinvented Steak Bomb sandwich. Today, the focus is on the filling. Sandwiches are all about balance—it's easy to put a lot of stuff in one, but the trick to is to be thoughtful about how to taste each element. The fillings have to be great on their own and even better together, otherwise what's the point?
Flap steak is one of our favorite beef cuts. While similar to the flank steak, it has a looser texture that firms up as the meat cooks. It is sometimes referred to as a "faux hangar steak" because, when cooked properly, it has both a tender, slightly chewy texture and a rich beefy flavor. Flap steak is easily is one of the more flavorful cuts of beef and well suited to searing or grilling. Because of this, it absorbs marinades beautifully without losing any of its inherent flavor and is often seen cut into chunks and grilled on skewers. It comes from the short loin—the belly of the beast—from underneath the flank steak. It has long, loose grains and is best served sliced across them for the tenderest bite.
We like to get a whole flap steak and butcher it ourselves. This mostly consists of cleaning off any excess fat and silver skin on the top and bottom of the meat. We set aside the scraps and score the meat.
Then we put it in a bag with half of the sandwichs' flavor base, made by pureeing raw bell peppers, onions, and garlic with wine and seasonings, and refrigerate it so it can soak into the meat for a few hours. We use the scraps of beef fat by rendering them, and then use the liquid fat to make the sauce (we also brush it on the rolls before we bake them, but if you bake the rolls separately, you can also brush them with olive oil or melted butter).
We take the remaining half of the flavor base and half of the rendered beef fat and cook it down with ketchup, mustard, and rice vinegar to make the sauce. We pour the warm sauce over freshly sliced peppers and onions and then slowly cook them down together on the stove.
We cook the steak on a charcoal grill until it's pink and juicy. Then we lay it on a bed of charred scallions to rest.
The juices exude into the vegetables and the meat absorbs flavor from the onions. While this happens we griddle provolone and salami together so that it melts and caramelizes into crisps.
Finally we slice the beef and the rolls and build our sandwiches. These Steak Bombs, inspired by the ones Alex used to eat in college, are even better than he remembers.