Smoked Steak and Cheddar Panini
To enhance the taste of these hearty steak sandwiches, the meat is first soaked in an herb- and garlic-based marinade. After the steak is cooked, it’s infused with natural smoky flavor using a handheld smoking gun.
For the marinade:
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- 4 Tbs. red wine
- 6 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 1/4 lb. skirt steak
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 4 French sandwich rolls
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
- 5 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 head butter or Bibb lettuce, leaves separated
To make the marinade, in a bowl, stir together the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, parsley, oregano, wine, olive oil, salt and pepper. Transfer to a sealable plastic bag, add the skirt steak and refrigerate overnight.
Remove the steak from the marinade and place on a platter. Strain the onion from the marinade; reserve the onion and any remaining marinade.
In a sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the reserved onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and bell pepper are tender, about 15 minutes more. Add the reserved marinade and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, preheat an electric panini maker on the “sear” setting according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Place the steak on the panini maker, close the lid and cook for 2 to 3 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for about 10 minutes. Cut the steak across the grain into slices 1/4 inch thick.
Place the steak slices in a single layer in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. Fill the chamber of a handheld smoking gun with hickory chips and smoke the steak according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Repeat the smoking with another chamber of chips. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
Preheat the panini maker on the “panini” setting. Brush the outside of the rolls with the melted butter. Lay the rolls, buttered side down, on a work surface. Arrange the steak slices on the bottom halves, dividing evenly. Top with the onion-pepper mixture and then the cheese. Cover each with a top half of the roll.
Place 2 sandwiches on the panini maker, close the lid and cook until the cheese is melted, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat to cook the remaining sandwiches. Open the sandwiches and arrange the lettuce leaves underneath the steak. Close the sandwiches and serve immediately. Serves 4.