Two things I really appreciate are the woefully under-eaten lamb (which I blame on the shadowy Sweater Lobby) and basic pub food. I also dig finding a pleasant surprise in a cookbook I wasn’t sure would have much to offer me. After a relative gifted me a copy of an entertaining craft beer cookbook – The American Craft Beer Cookbook, by John Holl – I found a lot of really interesting dishes that give you a peek into the personality of craft breweries that goes beyond what you can ascertain in a glass.
What could have been a basic “then add beer!” recipe book is actually a surprising range of styles, flavors, and backstories. I guess never judge a book by your preconceived prejudices and also the fact that you have a new book out yourself. That’s how that saying goes, right?
Anyway, this is adapted from a hanger steak recipe in that book. The sauce isn’t the most photogenic thing going, but it works so incredibly well with the marinated steak. I popped it on a bun, because I’m not washing any forks, and added a few ingredients because it’s Sandwich Law that you must.
Pretzel buns are actually pretty solid here – standing up to the size and juiciness of the ingredients very well. But they’re not trendy any more, so Odin forbid I recommend that. Just use your favorite sandwich roll and keep your Hot/Not food lists out of my face.
1 (1 to 1 1/2 lb) lamb round steak
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 shallot, minced
Leftover fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, marjoram, etc.)
2 cloves garlic, pressed or microplaned
1 cup brown ale
1/4 cup grapeseed oil (plus 3 tbsp)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 white onions, chopped
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
Mico-greens or baby arugula, to top
1 1/2 cups cream
3 oz stilton cheese, crumbled
1 tsp Worcestershire
1 tsp cayenne hot sauce (Tabasco works well)
Lemon juice, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
4-6 sub or sandwich rolls of your choice
1. Mix the sugar, shallot, herbs, garlic, ale, oil, soy, and Dijon. Whisk well to dissolve sugar. Pour over lamb in a zip-top bag or marinating container and refrigerate up to 24 hours ahead.
2. Next, you’re going to caramelize onions. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil over medium heat and add the onions. Toss to coat with oil and let cook until they begin to crackle. When this happens, pour a few tablespoons of water over them and scrape the bottom of the pan. Let the water heat, evaporate, listen for the crackling, and pour/scrape. Repeat this until you have incredibly soft, incredibly sweet dark-brown onions. It’s going to take about 35-45 minutes. Set aside in a warm place.
3. Next, wipe the onion pan clean and sautee the shiitakes over another tbsp of oil over medium-low heat with a half-teaspoon of Kosher salt. When the mushrooms have softened and released their liquid, set aside along with the onions, pouring any pan juices over the mushrooms.
4. Heat your grill to medium-high – scrape and oil the grate.
5. Remove the lamb from the marinade and shake off excess. Pat dry slightly and grill over direct heat. Cook 2 – 4 1/2 minutes per side, depending on the size of your steak. A one-pound steak takes about 3 minutes per side to get to a nice rare, but my grill also retains heat well. A thermometer is recommended, but the nice thing is it’s more like beef than chicken – rare isn’t just non-dangerous, it’s delicious! (This is where I tell you the FDA recommends 145 degrees so you don’t sue me)
6. Remove the lamb and let rest while you make the sauce.
7. Heat the cream over medium in a saucepan. Watch it carefully, because it will foam when it begins to boil. When that happens, knock back the heat and carefully let it reduce until it’s about half of what you started with.
8. Stir in the Stilton and continue stirring to melt and incorporate. When that happens, remove the sauce from the heat and stir in your lemon juice, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. Use up what you’ve got – this isn’t a sauce you can save and enjoy later. In fact, trying to do so might put you off of cream sauces for a bit.
9. Slice the lamb and chop into sandwich-friendly pieces. Slide into your preferred rolls and top with onions, mushrooms, sauce, and greens. Think about how much better your sandwich is than a stupid sweater.