One of the things I especially like to make over Christmas vacation is a truly awesome cube steak sandwich. Cube steaks are a pretty simple concept: just slap them on the grill till they’re done, put them on a roll strong enough to handle them, and add whatever toppings you want as long as cheese is at least one of them. They can be a little tough in spots sometimes, but they’re thick and meaty and chewable and good. My dad introduced me to these, and would make them sometimes on nights when my mother had a night out with friends. On a guy’s night we’d often have a good steak, or cube steaks, or burgers, and watch a great movie my mom doesn’t like such as Casablanca, Rio Bravo, or Month Python and the Holy Grail.
Not long after getting married I started craving a good cube steak again, so I decided to buy one and make it up right, with plenty of cheese and with mushrooms, because I like those too. It turned out so well that it became a Christmas break tradition for me.
Ultimate cube steak sandwich
- 2 cube steaks, 4 oz. each
- 2 sub or Kaiser rolls
- 6-8 oz. baby bella mushrooms
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- Black pepper
- Garlic, minced
- Kikkoman teriyaki marinade/sauce
- French’s Worcestershire sauce
- Muenster cheese, sliced
- Mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Bacon (technically optional)
Marinate cube steaks in teriyaki sauce before cooking; longer is better. Add mushrooms to sauté pan on medium heat and sweat for several minutes to soften. Add Worcestershire and garlic liberally, several grinds of pepper to taste, and butter. Cover and let cook until mushrooms are soft and have absorbed flavor. While mushrooms are cooking, place cube steaks on heated griddle and cook on medium-high heat until cooked through to desired doneness. If using sub rolls, slice steaks in half lengthwise. Add steaks to rolls. Add muenster, mozzarella, mushrooms, and bacon. Makes 2 sandwiches.
Obviously there are many variations on this sandwich. I listed my preferred brands and seasonings but everyone has their favorites. Some might prefer to add tomatoes or condiments; I can’t stand either, so I don’t. Kikkoman’s garlic teriyaki sauce may be worth trying here if you love garlic, but it might be too much with the mushrooms; for this application I prefer the simple sweetness of their original teriyaki.
Usually what I do is freeze one of the cube steaks, and only cook one while making the full batch of mushrooms. Half of the mushrooms can be saved for a later sandwich. One sandwich is quite enough for my appetite.
The only problem with writing about this sandwich of course is that it’s impossible to think about without wanting to have one right now. But I’m going to wait till next week: Wednesday the 26th, to be specific.
Update: I’ve since discovered that by borrowing a bit of sous vide technique, I can fry up the cube steak for a much shorter time and avoid a lot of burning and smoke. Put the cube steak in a resealable plastic bag, preferably a freezer bag, and push as much air out as you can. Get a container that’s a few inches deep and can be covered, and pour in a little hot water. Heat up more already hot water on the stove or in the microwave till it gets to about 140-150°. Now add the hotter water to the hot water till you get something around 130°. Immerse the bag and cover the container. Every few minutes, keep adding the hotter water, dumping out a little as necessary, while trying to keep the water in the container around 130°. Just 15 minutes of this will bring the steak partially up to temperature so it only needs a few minutes to fry to a nice medium. Longer couldn’t hurt.