The Meatwave: Barbecue & Grilling Recipes, Reviews, Tips, and Tricks

Tue May 5, 2015

Grilled Jalapeño-Marinated Steak Sandwiches With Charred Onions and Cotija Mayo

Posted by

Jalapeño Hanger Steak Sandwich

Everyone rejoice, Cinco de Mayo is here! In terms of eating holidays, this is my all time favorite due to the fact that I use it as an excuse to combine my love of all things Tex-Mex with my passion for grilling. It was that dynamic duo that led me to create this grilled jalapeño-marinated steak sandwich with charred onions and cotija mayo, which also just so happened to be one of the best sandwiches I have made to date.

Jalapeño Hanger Steak Sandwich

Starting out with steak for my sandwich was a risky move; I've been burned by overly chew or tough steak sandwiches in the past that have made me weary of the genre altogether. I've found flank and skirt steaks do the job pretty damn well though as long as they're not cooked past medium-rare and cut against the grain into bite-sized slices. Hanger steak, usually a premium over skirt and flank, got the call here mainly because there was a deal on it the day I went to the butcher, but those other two similar cuts well do just fine as a substitute. The steak I had picked up was on the thick side, though, so I butterflied it open to give it more surface area for searing and picking up flavor.

Jalapeño Hanger Steak Sandwich

Hanger steak has a loose, open structure that makes it ideal for sopping up marinades. To do that job here, I made a potent mixture of lime juice, jalapeños, olive oil, garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, salt, and pepper. The idea came from a jalapeño marinated steak that I had at the Kingsford Invitational whose spicy and fruity flavor left a lasting impression on me.

Jalapeño Hanger Steak Sandwich

This highly acidic and super spicy marinade didn't need much time to impart its flavor, so I only let the meat soak for as long as it took to prep the rest of the ingredients and get the fire going.

Jalapeño Hanger Steak Sandwich

As the steak marinated, I created a sauce that would be strong enough to both compliment and contrast the beefy jalapeño-flavored steak in a meaningful way. I took influence from elotes (Mexican street corn) and began by grating some cotija cheese, which is the outer coating commonly clinging to those ears.

Jalapeño Hanger Steak Sandwich

To get the cheese to stick the corn though, it's first slathered with a mayonnaise peppered with so heavily cayenne that it develops a bright orange hue. So I started the base of my sauce in the same vein, but backed down on the cayenne a bit and added in chili powder for more of an earthy flavor. I then added in sour cream for added tanginess and lime juice for freshness as well.

Jalapeño Hanger Steak Sandwich

With the flames now going strong outside, it was time to get this sandwich grilled. I built a two-zone fire and grilled the hanger steak over direct heat while the fire was at its hottest. The steak seared in almost no time, and the meat hit a perfect medium-rare at the same time the outside was deeply browned—any more than medium-rare with hanger steak and it'll start getting too chewy.

Jalapeño Hanger Steak Sandwich

After I had removed the steak from the grill to rest, I threw on a couple rings of onions, each secured together by a wooden skewered I had forced through the center. I let the onions cook until they were well browned on both sides and crisp-tender. Off the grill, I cut them up into a large dice.

Jalapeño Hanger Steak Sandwich

I was gunning for this to be one of the best sandwiches I've ever made, so left no detail unattended to. For the bread, I chose a quality baguette and brushed each cut side with extra-virgin olive oil.

Jalapeño Hanger Steak Sandwich

I then placed the baguette slices on the grill and let them cook until lightly browned, giving them an additional complexity by way of a toasty flavor.

Jalapeño Hanger Steak Sandwich

Next I slathered each slice with the cotija mayo, helping ensure the presence of this fantastic sauce would not be lost behind the beef, which I piled on next.

Jalapeño Hanger Steak Sandwich

I then lined the steak with a layer of the grilled onions and topped that with a few sprigs of fresh cilantro.

Jalapeño Hanger Steak Sandwich

At this point I'd been cooking for about 20 minutes and the fire had reached a medium-heat range, meaning that the I could stick the sandwiches into the covered grill, over indirect heat, and let them slowly warm through without worrying about drying out the steak or burning the bread.

Jalapeño Hanger Steak Sandwich

Now came the moment truth: would all the work to make this a standout steak sandwich with a Tex-Mex bend come to fruition?

Luckily, I was not left disappointed. The steak itself was pretty incredible, with the marinade embedding a fruity, tangy flavor and a slight touch of heat. The mayo came through with a bold but complementary touch, cilantro added brightness and freshness, and the grilled onions created a subtly sweet and smoky note. In the crusty toasted baguette, I'll be damned if these steak sandwiches aren't some of the best you can cook up for Cinco de Mayo, or any day.

Grilled Jalapeno-Marinated Steak Sandwiches With Charred Onions and Cotija Mayo

Spicy and beefy jalapeño-marinated hanger steak is paired with salty cotija mayo, charred onions, and fresh cilantro, which come together in one incredibly flavorful sandwich.
  • Prep Time:
  • 20 Minutes
  • Inactive Time:
  • 30 Minutes
  • Cook Time:
  • 30 Minutes
  • Total Time:
  • 1 Hour 20 Minutes

Ingredients

  • For the Cotija Mayo
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup finely grated cotija cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice from 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  •  
  • For the Marinade
  • 1/3 cup juice from about 4 limes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium jalapeños, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons freshly minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound hanger steak, trimmed of any hard fat and butterflied if thick
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices and skewered horizontally
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 baguette
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing

Procedure

  1. For the Cotija Mayo: Whisk together mayonnaise, cheese, sour cream, lime juice, chili powder, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Set aside
  2. For the Marinade: Place lime juice, olive oil, jalapeños, garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, salt, and pepper in the jar of a blender. Puree until smooth.
  3. Place steak in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour in marinade and seal, removing as much air as possible. Let marinate for 30 to 60 minutes while preparing grill.
  4. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Remove steak from marinade, place on hot side of grill, and cook until deeply browned on both sides and an instant read thermometer registers 125°F when inserted into center of meat. Remove from grill and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Slice into 2 inch portions with the grain, then slice against the grain into 1/4 to 1/2 inch strips.
  5. While steaks rest, brush onions with oil and place on hot side of grill. Cook until charred on both sides and slightly softened, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board, remove skewer, and roughly chop.
  6. Slice baguette into 4 6-inch portions and halve each portion lengthwise. Brush cut side of each baguette with oil. Grill baguette over hot side of grill, cut side down, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Remove to plate.
  7. Spread cotija mayo on top and bottom halves of bread. Top bottom halves of bread with steak, onions, and cilantro.
  8. Place sandwiches on cool side of grill, cover, and cook until warmed through, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate or tray and serve immediately.

Comments

  • 01
  • Chad Thompson says
    Great call on the hanger steak; glad you caught a break at the butcher. As always, this recipe rocks! The cotija mayo looks spectacular!

    Thanks for sharing, Josh!
    Posted Fri, May 8 2015 8:24pm

Add a Comment

E-mail me comments to this post

Remember my info

Post Preview