BY DIANE RIDGE
Today, onsite chefs are not so much rediscovering great beef cuts as they are elevating beef dishes—in this case sandwich mainstays—to new heights on many menus. By featuring more upscale presentations with traditional beef cuts, and using higher grades of cuts, chefs are taking advantage of beef's classic appeal to build the bottom line!
For tips on which types of beef cuts are best to use on particular styles of sandwich concepts, FM spoke with Dave Zino, executive director of the Culinary Center at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
For French Dip or Italian Beef sandwiches, consider the inside round, knuckle and the steamship round. "All of these muscles are very lean and affordable in the noncommercial marketplace. Cuts from the round should be cooked to medium rare doneness since they are so lean. It is also important to slice these muscles very thin," he says.
"For the shredded beef, I recommend the brisket and any roast from the shoulder," he says. For optimal shredded beef, these roasts should be braised. "The long slow cooking process will help break down connective tissue and provide for a moist and tender beef eating experience," he says. "It should also be noted, that several manufactures sell fully cooked shredded beef. I think this product is excellent for the noncommercial marketplace, as it lends itself to many different applications and flavor profiles," he adds.
For sliced steak sandwiches Zino recommends tender steak cuts from the rib and Ribeye, tenderloin and strip loin all make great choices for sliced steak sandwiches because they are naturally tender, he adds. "When enjoying a steak sandwich we never want the customer to struggle with the "bite" of the sandwich," he says. (Zino notes that cuts from the rib and loin are going to be more expensive and might not fit in on menus in some onsite venues, like healthcare.)
There are additional steak options in the chuck with the Flat Iron, Ranch and Petite Tender, according to Zino. "For these tender cuts, it is important to cut uniform slices against the grain to ensure a clean steak bite. Any steak used for a sliced sandwich should be cooked to medium rare doneness. (Zino recommends that cuts from the chuck and round that contain the more heavily exercised muscles benefit from tenderizing marinades containing natural enzymes and food acids. The acids and enzymes help break down the tissue. Round steaks, flank and skirt all benefit from tenderizing marinades.)
"Operators can keep beef on the menu and invent 'new' sandwich ideas without reinventing the wheel in every menu day part," says Zino. "In addition to featuring high quality beef cuts, consider utilizing preshredded beef and leftovers like brisket to develop interesting and even upscale sandwich ideas," says Zino.
One key to a great sandwich is layering flavor elements. "Consider marrying umamirich ingredients like aged cheese, tomatoes, red wine, mushrooms, and savory sauce. Chefs can quickly build great beef sandwich flavor without adding a lot of other ingredients," he says.
Layer on the Flavor
"Sandwiches are taking a prominent spot on the menu in restaurant, quick service and onsite foodservice venues," says Sam Ayoub, vice president of operations for Guest Services. Indeed Ayoub cites commercial companies like Quizno's and Panera that have built profitable menu and restaurant structures solely around the sandwich.
"Sandwiches also provide a strong menu structure for three of our most popular luncheon concepts: Stacker's Deli, a buildyourown New-York style deli concept (some facilities also incorporate hot panini sandwiches here if they have the space); The Branding Iron, featuring hot sandwiches like black angus beef burgers, chicken sandwiches, the Husky (see recipe concept below) and other favorites; and Malibu Wraps, wrap sandwiches such as Chicken Caesar Wrap, California Wrap, and BLT Wrap, to name a few."
"We're always trying to figure out a new approach to the sandwich," says Ayoub. He recounts perusing the aisles of a national food show, happening upon a prepared pot roast product and thinking, 'we can do an incredible sandwich composition using our own in-house roasted pot roast product.' "I envisioned constructing a tempting sandwich by building on layers of flavor, and the Husky began to take shape," he says.
Ayoub and the culinary staff physically construct this hearty sandwich in layers— in front of customers in about 3-4 minutes. Start with a dill bread bowl; add the beef (slow roasted in-house, to the point where it melts in your mouth, "the most critical part of the sandwich," says Ayoub). Add the homemade horseradish sauce; sautèed spring (green) onions; French fries ("homemade, of course, and prepared in a special way to retain both flavor and crispiness, even when hit with the au jus," explains Ayoub); splash on au jus; and then, to add a dimension of tanginess, top it all with a celery, green olive, pimento and olive oil relish. "Of course, there's a bit of 'secret ingredient' in every component of the recipe mix," says Ayoub and thus no specific recipe here for reference!
As of press time, the Husky had just been launched to government accounts such as the Pentagon and State Department. "We're introducing it gradually in order to get customer feedback," says Ayoub. We're not going to go whole hog at first," he says. "You need to start with a formula—in this case simple and tasty ingredients coupled with a perceived full-meal value. Only then do you look into more variety as far as building on more flavor profiles," he says. "This mingling of taste and value is a good recipe for success."
The constant customer demand for innovative sandwiches coupled with menu cost constraints associated with culinary services at a healthcare facility hasn't dampened the menu options or enthusiasm in the kitchens at Trident Health Systems in Charleston, SC.
David Hendriks, director of nutrition, quickly lists the many beef sandwich choices and enthusiastically describes the more innovative choices for customers. "We offer the traditional Philly cheese steak sandwich; an American burger with a choice of 15 toppings ($3.99 includes three toppings); a gourmet Certified Black Angus Burger ($4.99) and a hearty Pot Roast Sandwich on Texas toast with grilled onions and a horseradish mustard sauce ($2.99)."
"The budgetary constraints in the healthcare environment require us to work a bit harder—and perhaps more creatively—at developing menu concepts," says Hendriks.
"I use classic ingredients that we readily have on hand (beef tenderloin from catering, leftover roasts and meatloaf, for example), as opposed to ordering in special cuts, to create our sandwich masterpieces," he says.
Some of the newest beef sandwiches include a Double BLT, prepared with marinated and grilled flank steak, bacon and lettuce and tomato; Beef Tenderloin and Grilled Eggplant with roasted red peppers on rosemary focaccia bread; a Barbecue Beef Brisket sandwich with Southern coleslaw; and a Blackened Meatloaf Sandwich topped with sweet potato chips and blue cheese. "I created this impressive stacked sandwich for myself one day. Some customers saw it and requested I offer it on the menu. It's a little far out, but it's really starting to sell," says Hendriks.
Steakhouse Pot Roast Sandwich
Roses Steak Hero
Tenderloin and Grilled Eggplant Sandwich
Sukiyaki Steak Sandwich
Beef Barbecue Wrap
Mexican Shredded Beef
Italian Shredded Beef
Pesto, Herb and Garlic Burger Brush
Asiago Cheese & Basil Stuffed Burger
Avocado and Beef Torta
Barbecue Beef with Cheddar Cheese on Potato Bread
Pot Roast Sandwich
For Healthful Beef Think ZIP + B
The acronym ZIP + B is an easy way to remember the most important nutrients found in beef: zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins.
ZINC: Beef is the number one source of zinc in the american diet. Zinc helps to maintain the immune system, and facilitate wound healing and appetite control. A 3-oz. serving of beef provides 38% of the zinc most people need each day.
After iron-enriched breads and cereal, beef is the top source for iron in the American diet. Additionally, the iron found in red meat is more readily absorbed by the body than that found in bread or cereal and other plant products.
IRON plays a role in vital bodily functions such as carrying oxygen to body cells and tissue, asissting in making new red blood cells, brain development and immune system support. Proteins are part of the body's tissues, including muscles, organs and bones. They support the immune system and can serve as a source of energy.
PROTEIN. All foods contain some protein, but the amount and quality varies. Meat, fish, poultry, legumes, eggs, nuts, soy and dairy are all considered high-protein foods. Proteins from animal sources are high-quality or complete proteins.
B VITAMINS promote growth, maintain health and unleash the energy in foods. beef is one of the best sources of many essential B vitamins.
Fat is also an essential nutrient, as it enables the absorption of fat soluable vitamins and the formation of hormones, and it is used by the body as an energy source. Half of the fatty acids in beef are monounsaturated, the same type of fatty acid found in olive oil and championed for their heart-healthy properties. Additionally, approximately a third of the saturated fat is stearic acid. Studies have shown that stearic acid does not raise blood cholesterol levels as other saturated fatty acids do.
Source: The Cattlemen's Beef Board
Hamburgers & More!
365 Ways to Cook Hamburger and Other Ground Meats, Rick Rodgers, HarperCollins Publishers Ground beef accounts for 45% of all beef sold in the United States and this plus other various ground meats lamb, chicken, turkey, pork and veal) provide economical and adaptable recipe platforms for every onsite segment.
For sandwich ideas, Rodgers explores more than three dozen combinations for burgers of all kinds to prepare on the kitchen flattop or on the grill. Also consider some of the interesting meatball recipes to fill hoagie buns, pita pockets and wraps.
And with more than 50 meatloaf recipes, operators are sure to find a few that will make tasty sandwiches tomorrow—after all, meatloaf is always better the next day!
Refer to Rodgers' ground meat descriptions at the beginning of the book for specific cooking and substitution ideas, plus safe food handling tips.
A Better Burger
HAMBURGERS, undoubtedly the most popular beef sandwich on menus across the nation, are still canvases upon which to improvise. Consider the innovative flavoring options being incorporated at B&I locations within the Whitson's Culinary Group.
"Of course we have a myriad of burger topping offerings -at least 15 to date," says Kelly Friend, vice president of operations for the B&I segment. "But now we're going beyond that by offering flavor-stuffed burgers. We use a very high-grade prime ground beef and add flavor "stuffers" like chopped sun-dried tomato, mozzarella, and basil, for instance. We hand form the burgers, then grill to the customers' desired doneness."
Other burgers may include these highly flavorful stuffers: roasted red pepper, herbs, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, blue cheese, Asiago cheese, bacon, Tabasco, and crushed red peppercorns, for example.
And if traditional burgers with toppings or flavor-stuffed burgers don't pack enough of a punch to satiate customers beef cravings? They can have their burger further flavored with one of three innovative "brushed" marinades—Red Wine & Orange with Rosemary, Spicy Ginger and Sesame or Pesto, Herb and Garlic—brushed on the bruger with a rosemary sprig "brush". (In addition to beef, burger options include other meats such as pork, poultry, fish, and a vegetarian portobello mushroom option.)
Additional burger options on the horizon for Whitson's customers include organic meat (though an expensive option now as organic ground meat costs double the price of "ordinary" ground beef) and mini burgers. "We're considering offering two mini burgers per meal, each with it's own flavor profile," says Friend.
Add a twist to beef with these ethnic flavors in sauces, spreads or relishes.