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State Fair Stimulates Craving for Steak Sandwich

I never thought I’d say this, but I’ve been dreaming about fair food. I don’t mean elephant ears coated in sugar or any number of other deep-fried delicacies. When I heard a Jackson newscaster proclaim the first place he was heading when the Mississippi State Fair opened last week was to bite into a hot grilled steak sandwich, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. His statement stimulated a steak sandwich craving and caused me to do a little research on his favorite fair food.

Turns out, volunteers with the Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association have been annually grilling and serving over 5,000 of the juicy sandwiches filled with locally-grown rib-eyes for over 20 years. If you’ve missed them in the past and are planning a visit to the fair, they’re located in the red building across from the biscuit booth. Just look for the multi-colored cow emblazoned with an American flag on top. For $8, I can’t think of a better deal, especially when paired with a free biscuit.

Back to my steak sandwich craving. Since a trip to the fair was a few days off, a trip to the supermarket was in order. My local market was out of rib-eyes, so I scouted around for the next best thing. After selecting a nice flank steak and some vegetables, I set about making one of my favorite sandwiches.

To make One Pan Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches, I placed 1-1/2 pounds of flank steak on a large baking pan and coated it with a couple of tablespoons each of olive oil and Worcestershire sauce and half teaspoon each of paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, dried thyme, salt, and pepper.

In a separate bowl, I combined a cup each of chopped mushrooms, yellow onion, green pepper with two tablespoons of olive oil, tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper. After marinating for 30 minutes, I poured the vegetables onto the sheet around the outside of the steak.

Meat and vegetables were baked in a 350 oven for 15 minutes, then the oven was turned to broil for 3-5 minutes. I removed the tray from the oven, placed the meat onto a carving board, and cut into thin sliced pieces. I returned the meat to the tray and covered both meat and vegetables with 4-5 slices of Provolone cheese.

I turned the oven back to bake, returned the sheet and let the cheese melt for 5-7 minutes. After stirring everything together, I placed the cheesy mixture into hoagie buns.

Even after my satisfying steak sandwich, my craving for beef didn’t end. On the Mississippi Beef Council’s website, I found a shortcut version of a favorite classic Italian dish, beef braciole. If a trip to the midway for a grilled rib-eye sandwich isn’t in your plans, this delicious dish will almost (but not quite) make up for it.

Slow-Cooked Beef and Mushroom Braciole

1 beef flank steak (1-1/2 to 2 pounds)

1 cup mushrooms, finely diced

1/2 cup onion, finely diced

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 slices bacon or prosciutto, chopped (about 1 ounce)

1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning blend

1 teaspoon salt, divided

Hot cooked pasta or polenta

Combine mushrooms, onion, cheese, and bacon in medium bowl; set aside. Cover beef steak with plastic wrap; pound until steak is 1/4 inch thick.

Season steak on both sides with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Arrange mushroom mixture evenly over steak, leaving 1-inch border on all sides. Starting on long side, roll up steak to enclose mushroom mixture. Secure roll with kitchen twine.

Place tomatoes in slow cooker; stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and Italian seasoning. Add beef roll to sauce, turning one to coat. Cooked, covered, on high for four hours or on low six hours, or until beef is tender.

Cut braciole diagonally into half-inch thick slices. Serve over pasta or polenta topped with sauce.

Recipe and image courtesy of Mississippi Beef Council

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