I generally cook something pretty quick and simple on a Friday night, saving any prolonged cooking for the weekend, when I can enjoy taking my time and have a few beers while bringing a meal together. This Friday I decided to make some simple, tasty, and super quick steak sarnies with Stilton and fried onions, before meeting some friends at the pub for a few drinks.
Beer and food matching can be tricky, but just occasionally the perfect partner beer for your meal just screams out to be utilised. This match is one of those occasions.
For the steak sandwich I spread a little good mayo on the bottom half of the Ciabatta bread and some Dijon Mustard on the top, added the cooked sliced steak and resting juices, then some fried onions and Stilton on top. If I'd have had some Rocket I might have added that too but to be honest it was great just the way it was, and matched with the Fullers 1845 it was damned near perfect.
Without the Stilton on the sandwich you could probably get away with a normal English Bitter such as St. Peter's Organic Best Bitter, or even a smokey Porter, but that strong, salty blue cheese means a stronger, richer beer is demanded for. Something exactly like Fullers 1845 (6.3%), a bottle conditioned beer with a massive amount of flavour.
It's one of those matches that isn't just a case of "it goes well with the meal" - it actively improves it. The beer has a fruit cake like character with hints of chocolate and almost burnt toast, as well as an underlying sweetness that is balanced out beautifully by spicy, slightly orangey hops and a very dry, mildy boozy finish. It matches amazingly well with the charred flavour of the meat but also manages to balance out the Stilton and bring out its underlying sweetness. It's delicious, and a combination I'd urge anybody to give a try.
....Also, I couldn't let this go without talking a little bit about the much misunderstood steak sandwich. Yes it's quick, yes it's simple, but show it some respect and you can make something really special.
The most important ingredients of a steak sandwich, and this may sound glaringly obvious, are the steak and the bread. My personal preference is for rump steak; cut nice and thick it's juicy and tasty but most importantly doesn't really have any fat, unlike sirloin or ribeye, so no fatty bits in the middle of your sandwich. (NB - Ribeye is my favourite cut for steak and chips but for that clean, square slab of meat perfect for slicing into a sandwich Rump is much better suited, and Fillet is overated)
The bread is also vitally important, you want something that isn't too tough, but is strong enough to hold itself together whilst soaking up some of those lovely steak juices - Ciabatta is ideal. Slightly crunchy on the outside, soft and bubbled on the inside. Plus, because it's an olive oil based bread it can handle the steak juices without becoming soggy - perfect!
Get the right meat, and the right bread and you can't go far wrong providing you don't overcook the steak (my 3cm thick steak was cooked on a searing hot griddle pan 2 mins either side, rested for 2 mins then thickly sliced on the diagonal).
P.s. The sandwich looks little, but thats because I used some little part baked (Tesco Finest) Ciabattas and we had two each!