Steak Pizzaiola Sandwiches

The other day, I was watching an old episode of Guy Fieri's Diner's, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  He was visiting a long-standing deli, located in Brooklyn, NY -- DeFonte's Sandwich Shop.  I am a complete sucker for anything Italian, not to mention anything Italian straight out of New York, so my attention was piqued immediately.  They began showing the creation of the Steak Pizzaiola Sandwich: tender sliced beef slow-simmered in a simple herb-infused tomato sauce, topped with homemade fresh mozzarella, and then baked in the oven until crusty, golden, and bubbling.  I was either really hungry or really intrigued, because I felt my mouth start to water just watching them build the sandwich on television.  Not even 24 hours later, I was in my own kitchen, recreating the same sandwich, with a "Community Plate"-spin.  I added the flavors of fresh garlic, sliced onions, and fennel seed in my tomato sauce, and I used a sliced provolone cheese instead of fresh mozzarella.  I added a mix of arugula and spinach on the bottom (I had to incorporate my greens!), and the spicy arugula took the sandwich over-the-top.  I hope you make this soon, and I hope you enjoy every sweet, savory, acidic, creamy, crunchy, gooey, melty bite!

What You'll Need:
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons dry red wine
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • (2) 15-oz. cans crushed tomatoes 
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds top round boneless beef, sliced thin
  • 1 large baguette, sliced lengthwise
  • 8 sliced provolone cheese
  • Arugula and Spinach mix, optional

1.  In a large pan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add garlic and onion.  Saute until onion softens slightly and add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the red wine to the pan and reduce by half.  Add oregano, Italian seasoning, and fennel and stir to incorporate spices evenly throughout.  Let simmer for 5 minutes.  Add crushed tomatoes to the pan.  Drop in basil leaves and butter and stir.  Cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Using a meat mallet, pound out the beef until very thin and season with salt and pepper on both sides.  Brown the meat in the oil for about 1 minute on each side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to remove excess oil and then move sliced beef to the tomato sauce.

3.  Let steak simmer in tomato sauce, covered, for about one hour or until very tender.  Spoon some sauce from the pan on bottom-half of baguette.  Build your sandwich, putting spinach-arugula mix first, steak on top of that, and then top with mozzarella cheese.  Broil in the oven on high for 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and starts to brown.  Slice into four sandwich segments, and enjoy!


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