Wednesday, March 30, 2011

London Broil, Roasted Red Pepper and Muenster Cheese Grilled Sandwich with Chile Scallion Mayonnaise

     I do not know why hungry chefs like to make sandwiches with odd ingredients for themselves in restaurant kitchens while working.  Maybe, it is because a sandwich is a trial ground for flavor experiments.  Maybe, it is because a sandwich is easy to eat, while standing and on the phone placing food orders with purveyors.  Who knows?
     While apprenticing, I worked fourteen hours a day with no breaks in an Italian restaurant.  I was very busy and I never took the time to sit down and eat a meal.  Half of my life has been spent eating while standing on my feet!  In a busy restaurant, there is no time for breaks.  There is always something that needs to be done.
     By working with devotion like this, I became a sous chef after only a few years in the restaurant business.  It seemed like every restaurant that I was hired at, required me to be the "clutch" player.
     Preventative Medicine For Cooks:
     Having an athletic background was a big help to me when working long endless hours.  It takes stamina to work all day.  Many chefs do not realize how important good posture is while cooking, till later in life when they have severe spinal, hip, elbowor knee problems.  Just like the Native Americans say, stay on your toes and walk on the balls of your feet!  Walking or standing flat footed can cause severe pain by the end of a long day in a restaurant kitchen.
     Lifting heavy objects with your legs will keep your spine from being injured.  Developing shoulder and forearm strength will keep elbow problems from occurring.  The best forearm exercises are reverse curls.  Reverse curling of weights will not make the biceps bulky.  Reverse curling is one of the most important exercises for professional motocross racers.  Reverse wrist curls and squeezing stiff spring hand grips is the best way to prevent wrist problems.
     Taking the time to do knee bends and quadricep exercises will prevent knee injuries.  Toe ups are done by placing your toes on a 2x4 board with your ankles on the ground then rising to stand on your toes.  This exercise is the best way to prevent ankle injuries.  Kitchen floors can have some very slick slippery hazards.  A few judo or martial art classes will teach a cook how to fall, without injury occurring.
     As far as the best way to learn to move fluidly and to keep sure footing, while keeping your balance on a slick kitchen floor is concerned, there is one thing that will help.  Learn how to dance!  I am a great dancer!  I used to dance on the floor and on stage at a few Las Vegas clubs not too long ago.  Dancing is the best exercise of all for staying sure footed on a slick floor!
     I figured that I would write this little preventative medicine topic for those who are just starting their cooking career.  Always accept healthy advice!  Working long hours, injury free, with no pain is a much better chef experience, than looking like the walking wounded!  Not gaining excessive weight is very important for a long term career as a chef.
     London Broil:
     London broil is a cooking term and it is not a name for a cut of beef.  London Broil has nothing to do with London England.
     There are two different cuts of beef that can be used to make a London Broil.  One choice is an ordinary flank steak.  The second choice is a top round steak.  Top round steak has recently been incorrectly written by bad food writers as being the wrong choice for making London Broil.  Top round steak was the original London Broil.
     The very "old school" chefs who were cooking in the 1930's through the 1980's will tell you that a tender top round steak is the original cut for making London Broil.  The history of London Broil is obscure, unless you had the pleasure of working with some of the very old chefs in Yacht clubs while apprenticing like I did.  Yacht club cooking is tradition!
     A fat cap is attached to one side of a thick top round steak.  The grain of the meat runs lengthwise like a flank steak.  In the old days when beef had more natural fat marbling,  the top round section was much more tender.
     A great chef that I worked with in Philadelphia also explained this to me when I asked why he was using flank steaks for a London Broil special that we ran that night.  The chef said that the flank steak is the incorrect choice of meat for a London Broil, but it was cheaper and the customers did not know the difference!  The chef said that traditionally, the London Broil is made with a top quality thick top round steak with the fat cap attached.  Philadelphia is the city of tradition, so that great Philadelphia chef did know his stuff!
     If you refer to a commonly used internet encyclopedia site for all your cooking questions, then you will be laughed at by many chefs for learning the wrong information.  I browse the internet for food definitions and food topics occasionally.  I do notice when incorrect information is posted.  Today, I noticed an encyclopedia site was absolutely wrong about their information concerning the topic of London Broil.  Perhaps the managers of the encyclopedia site were customers of that Philadelphia chef who stated that his customers were too stupid to know the difference!
     I know the difference!  Flank steak has much less flavor with a cold lifeless after taste.   A thick top round steak that was cut with the fat cap attached from a side of prime marbled beef, will have ten times as much flavor when it is cooked as a London Broil!
     Marination time for a top round steak is minimal.  When sliced at a 45ยบ angle across the grain of the meat, a top round steak will show thin streaks of fat marbling.  The meat grain of a flank steak is only surrounded by a thin sinew, instead of marbled fat!  Therefore, you get that cold dead meat aftertaste.
     There is a gelatinous streak of low quality fat that runs with the grain of the meat on the joined side of a poorly butchered flank steak.  You cannot cut the fat streak off of a flank steak, without wasting at least a one inch thick layer of meat!
     For a top round steak, the thick layer of fat is a cap along one of the long edges of the steak.  After roasting, you can simply trim the fat cap off of the edge of the steak before you carve each portion!
     When I was apprenticing, the old yacht club chefs were 65 and 70.  I just took their word for it, without question, when they stated that "In the old days, London Broil was made with a top round steak."  Those two old yacht club chefs were from the golden years of American Steak Fine Dining.  They knew!
     London Broil:
     The marinade for this London Broil is made specifically for this sandwich!
     Place a 6 to 8 ounce top round steak with the fat cap attached into a shallow pan.  The top round steak should be 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" thick
     Season the steak with sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of cumin.
     Add 1 pinch of ground celery seed.
     Add 1/4 cup of dry red wine.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Allow the meat to marinate at room temperature for twenty minutes.  (Top round steak takes very little marination time.)
     Heat a broiler to high heat.  (London Broil is never char grilled.  It is broiled from a flame above the meat!)
     Remove the steak from the marinade and place it on a broiler pan.
     Broil the steak, so it is close to the flame.  London Broil is best when the meat is caramelized brown and the juices are sealed in.
     Flip the steak often, so the meat cooks evenly.
     Every time that you flip the steak over, brush the steak with a little bit of melted unsalted butter.
     Cook the London Broil to your desired state of doneness.  I prefer London Broil to be cooked rare to medium rare, just like in the old days!
     Place the finished London Broil on a cutting board and let it rest for one minute.
     For this sandwich, wait to slice the London broil, till the cheese starts to melt on the grilled sandwich bread!  Use a very sharp long carving knife to cut thin whole slices of meat at a forty five degree angle across the grain of the meat.
     Chile Scallion Mayonnaise Recipe:
     Place 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise in a small bowl.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 pinches of ground ancho chile powder.
     Add 1 small squeeze of lime juice.
     Add 1 finely minced green onion or scallion.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of dark chipotle pepper sauce.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of dijon mustard.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Set the chile scallion mayonnaise aside.
     London Broil, Roasted Red Pepper and Muenster Cheese Grilled Sandwich with Chile Scallion Mayonnaise:
     Heat a griddle or a large saute pan over medium heat.
     Brush the pan with melted unsalted butter.
     Place a few large pieces of roasted red bell peppers on a roasting pan.
     Heat the roasted red peppers in a 350 degree oven, till the become hot.
     Brush 2 slices of whole grain wheat bread with unsalted butter.
     Place the slices of bread on the hot griddle or saute pan.
     Place a few thin slices of muenster cheese on the bread slices.
     Start slicing the finished London Broil!  About 4 to 6 ounces of sliced London Broil is plenty.
     When the cheese melts a little bit, spread the chile scallion mayonnaise over the cheese on both slices of bread.
     Place a 4 to 6 ounce sandwich portion of the thinly sliced London Broil on one of the bread slices in the pan.
     Remove the warm roasted peppers from the oven.  Place the peppers on the cheese on the other slice of bread.
     Use a spatula to place the two sandwich halves together, after the grilled bread becomes lightly toasted.
     Set the grilled sandwich on a cutting board, slice it in half and set it on a plate.
     Garnish the plate with parsley sprigs and pickles.  The pickles on the pictured plate are Chicago Sport Peppers, a baby dill pickle and a Persian Pickled Turnip.  I placed a couple of ripe plum tomato wedges on the plate too.
     This is a very nice grilled sandwich for spring and summer!  Grill sandwiches with cheese are very comforting.  The chile scallion mayonnaise is perfect for the cumin red wine marinated flavor of the London Broil!  Muenster cheese is very smooth and mellow with beef.
     I like pickles with sandwiches!  Especially in spring, when you do not need excess amounts of starch while trying to burn off that layer of winter fat!  I do admit that I like the color pink and the pink colored Persian Pickled Turnips are my favorites!  Yum!  ...  Shawna                    

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