Sunday, July 24, 2011

No napkins, no plates

The first thing S and I ate after dropping off our luggage at our hotel and venturing out into the city of Paris late last month, was a baguette with butter and ham. Just that. Bread, butter and thick slices of ham. It was perfection.

It reminded me of the sandwiches I used to have as a kid, when my mom would buy from the bakery small bread loaves with sesame seeds on top or whole baguettes, slather them with soft butter and generously fill them with ham, Hungarian salami and Greek kefalograviera cheese.

It was one of those sandwiches that even if you were full after eating one, you desperately wanted another.

And then the other day, I made this beef steak sandwich with Dijon mustard and rocket leaves. And that same thing happened to me again. I couldn't eat just one. No matter how hard I tried to resist, and believe me I tried, I couldn't do anything but give in to its powers.

See, now I have to stop. I have to stop writing. Because every time I sit down to write something about this sandwich or choose the photographs for this post, I get so incredibly hungry that I need to get up, go straight into the kitchen and fix myself a little something to sustain me until I have my proper dinner. This post is ruining my eating schedule.

Anyway, where was I?

Yes. The powers of this sandwich. Listen, this is a pretty straightforward sandwich as all good sandwiches should be and the actual cooking part of the recipe is the grilling of the meat.

Ah, the meat. The cut of meat I chose was entrecôte, a very popular steak in The Netherlands as well as in Greece. It's a premium cut and utterly delicious and since I'm very particular when it comes to red meat—I don't like a lot of fat on it, I hate it when it's tough and sinewy, etc.—it is ideal for my taste.

I also believe that if you choose pour quality meat to put in such a beautifully simple sandwich then the whole thing is ruined. An inferior cut has nowhere to hide here. There are no rich sauces, no fried onions, no fatty cheese to disguise it. There are only rosemary leaves, lemon juice and virgin olive oil that dress the steak and add a great depth of flavor.

As far as bread goes, ciabatta is number one in my book as a choice for a good sandwich. Not too much crumb, wide enough for the filling to spread around nicely and once heated in the oven just until it becomes a little crunchy around the edges but still soft, there's just nothing like it.

Grilled meat juices trickled down my hand and all the way to my elbow as soon as I bit into the sandwich. Mustard dripped all over my chin, falling straight onto my t-shirt. No napkins, no plates.
I'm usually not this messy when I eat. This sandwich brings out the worst in me. Or perhaps, the best.

Entrecôte Steak Sandwich with Dijon Mustard and Rocket Leaves
Inspired by Jamie Oliver

Cutting a thick steak in half lengthwise and then pounding it with a mallet, reduces the grilling time and also makes a steak that's not one of the cheapest of its kind go a long way. You can also use sirloin steak instead of entrecôte, or even rump steak.

You can use a grill or griddle to cook the steak but you can also use a regular skillet (preferably heavy-bottomed)*. The directions for cooking the meat are the same as when you cook it on the grill.

In my previous post, I asked you about your favorite kind of mustard and both here and on the Greek page of my blog, I discovered through your comments some very interesting varieties. So many mustards for me to try. Thank you for all your suggestions! I hope my fridge can handle it.
I have to admit that my all time favorite is Dijon and that's why I'm using it here. Feel free to add your own favorite mustard but make sure it is a strong one; the steak needs it.

Yield: 3 large sandwiches

1 thick, large, boneless entrecôte steak (mine was 280 g with a 2 cm thickness) or sirloin steak or rump boneless beef steak
The leaves from 1 rosemary sprig
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp virgin olive oil (plus 1 Tbsp for the oiling of the grill/skillet)
1 ½ tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
70 g baby or wild rocket leaves
1 large ciabatta

Special equipment: a grill or griddle (this is the one I use), kitchen mallet

Take the steak out of the refrigerator at least 15 minutes before grilling in order to allow it to come to room temperature. Trim most of the fat off the steak and with a big, sharp knife cut it in half lengthwise. Place steaks over a large sheet of plastic wrap, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and add the rosemary leaves on top. Cover them with another large sheet of plastic wrap and, using a mallet, pound them until they become half in thickness. Be careful not to tear them apart or pound them too thin.
Remove the plastic wrap, place steaks on a plate and rub them with 1 Tbsp of olive oil.

Place ciabatta in a preheated oven (about 200 degrees Celsius) for 4-6 minutes until it becomes slightly crispy around the edges.

Rinse the rocket leaves under running water and strain them in a colander.

Oil your grill or griddle with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and heat over high heat. Once it gets very hot (in order to check, you can pour a few drops of water on the grill and if they sizzle it is ready) add the steaks and grill them for 2 minutes on one side and 1 minute on the other. Be careful not to overcook them otherwise they'll become rubbery and lose all their flavor and juices. The cooking time depends of course on your own personal taste.

Remove the steaks from the grill and put them on a plate. Drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil over them and 1 ½ tsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Let them rest for 2-3 minutes.

Cut the ciabatta in half lengthwise and spread the Dijon mustard on one piece of the bread. Add the rocket leaves and place the steaks on top. Pour the juices that have accumulated on the plate you rested the steaks on, on top of the steaks. These juices are extremely flavorful. Don't make the mistake of throwing them out!

Cut the ciabatta into three large pieces and enjoy your steak sandwiches!

*If you don't have a grill or griddle and want to cook the steaks in a skillet, you need to pour 1 Tbsp of olive oil into it and heat over high heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the steaks and cook according to the above instructions.


  1. Now that is a sandwich! I love the way it looks and I can almost taste it: much better than any subway or jimmy johns!

  2. Amazing how the simplest of sandwiches can be the most amazing. The French seem to be good at combining these two elements in their food. This sandwich certainly looks both simple and amazing.

  3. Mmm looks delicious- even this early! But isn't entrecote and sirloin one and the same? I'm confused- is entrecote in French, English and Dutch the same cut?

  4. PolaM, Nisrine — thanks!

    A Dutch Brit — hmmm, I think they're slightly different. I'm not very familiar with the American/English cuts. Are they the same? We need a butcher's help!

  5. Magda - you and I have both said it - sometimes the simplest meals are the best. This sandwich is definitely a testament to that belief! I can't wait to try them.

    If I may weigh in on the steak varieties, I believe that entrecote would be the equivalent of a rib eye steak in the U.S.

    And, since I forgot to weigh in on mustard varieties last week, my favorite is definitely Maille...

  6. I adore a steak sandwich. The simpler the better if the meat is good.

  7. The entrecote is the equivalent of the rib-eye. The confusion comes because sometimes the French do use the term entrecote for the sirloin as well.

  8. The jambon-beurre sandwich is probably one of my most beloved things in Paris. incredible!! I can see how a person could seriously crave your entrecôte sandwich!! Very tempting.

  9. That looks fabulous! I was planning a steak sandwich too, in a while, it is too hot to eat meat here, but yours is fantastic! With a good mustard and a good baguette I would be in heaven!

  10. It looks so enticing. Now I am hungry (very) and must go visit the kitchen. Too bad this sandwich will not be waiting for me.

  11. I laughed when I read this. Isn't it funny how taking pictures of food makes you hungry? In this case I can see why. Beautiful!

  12. David — thanks for the info! Yes, Maille is among the best.

    Nuts about food — indeed.

    Spyro — I have been searching the internet to find the equivalent and then I gave up. Others say the rib eye is somewhat superior to the entrecôte and not exactly the same and others say that the sirloin is inferior to it.
    So, the rib eye is the equivalent then. Thank you!

    Nicole — thanks!

    Taste of Beirut — it is heavenly!

    Denise — I feel you.

    El — oh yes! Thank you :)

  13. yay, the mustard makes the appearance! ;)

    I enjoyed a good sandwich, too. In my city, a good sandwich can cost almost like a main meal in a restaurant!

  14. OMG, those are droolworthy sandwiches! I really like that awesome combination. Yummy.



  15. I have to say that on our week-long bike trip up the Canal de Nantes à Brest I craved a jambon-beurre on baguette like never before and I couldn't get enough. I had one every day for lunch. And I almost never eat them normally. And a good steak sandwich, well, I grew up learning to love them (add mayo and slices of ripe tomatoes to yours). Mmmm love them.

  16. hi magda, just came across your blog and really love it (and am going to spend a lot of time fantasizing about a sandwich with the perfect bread, the perfect meat and good mustard...). thanks!

  17. Argh. Am reading this (and much of the archives of your beautiful blog) while waiting for the dough for our pizza to have a proper rest. And now I'm wishing we were having steak sandwiches like these for dinner. Divine.

  18. I have a thing for a good sandwich. In fact when Liz Lemon of 30 Rock proclaimed a Sandwich Day I was completely behind her! :D

  19. deqr Magda, the sight of one of the simplest meals in the world can make a person ravenous - i love your sandwiches (and i love paris too)

  20. an ode to the perfect sandwich--a much underestimated, misunderstood meal. you've made me crave one of these with your enticing writing and photography. divine!

  21. Yum! You make me want to go on a picnic.

  22. Simple but perfect sandwich for a meat lover like me :) Now I am HUNGRY!
    Anyways, I love your blog header!

  23. Hi Magda, this is exactly what I would eat when we arrive in Paris: Baguette, butter and ham! Love the look of your steak sandwiches. Rusty and delicious.

  24. This looks lovely Magda! Your blog has been one of my favorites for quite some time, and this is exactly why! I recently decided to try blogging again, and you were definitely a part of the inspiration. All the best!