Recipe: Chili-rubbed Rib-eye Sandwich

Gravy Train: Chili-rubbed rib-eye with redeye gravy sandwich is stacked with taste

“We offer this tasty concoction as a special on occasion, and it has developed a cultish following,” says Aaron Cozadd, chef of the Union Woodshop in Clarkston.

Woodshop owner Curt Catallo adds: “This open-face sandwich is good for late-night nourishment and mornings after.” Serve with fries or hash browns.

3 a.m. Seared Rare Chili-Rubbed Rib-eye

Photograph by Joe Vaughn
(Serves 4)

2 14-ounce rib-eye steaks

6 tablespoons chili rub (see additional recipe)

1 sourdough loaf cut into 4 half-inch slices (preferably a crusty artisan loaf)

4 slices Swiss cheese

4 large eggs, one per sandwich

1 cup maple-mustard redeye gravy (see additional recipe)

1/2 onion fried (see additional recipe)

2 tablespoons chopped chives


Coat steaks with about 3 tablespoons each chili rub, then coat them with a thin layer of oil. Marinate steaks for few hours and up to overnight for best flavor.

Chili Rub:

(Makes about 1 cup)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

2 ounces vegetable oil

Redeye gravy:

(Makes about 1-1/2 cups)

Make a larger batch of the gravy and refrigerate it for use with bacon, ham, breakfast sausage, or just about anything else that’s good with maple syrup and coffee.

1/4 onion, chopped

1-1/2 tablespoons butter

1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup strong coffee

1/2 cup chicken stock

2-1/2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 tablespoon Michigan maple syrup

2-1/2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Sweat the onions in butter until translucent.

Stir in the flour to form a roux and simmer for 2 minutes.

Whisk in coffee and chicken stock; bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook over medium-low heat while stirring occasionally until thickened, about 30 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients. Refrigerate and reheat when needed.

Crispy fried onion:

(Makes about 1 cup of fried garnish, enough for all 4 sandwiches)

1/2 onion

2 cups vegetable oil

1 cup all-purpose flour

Kosher salt, to taste

Cayenne pepper, to taste

Slice onion as thinly as possible while maintaining full slices, preferably using a mandoline. Heat oil in a small saucepan to between 350 and 375 degrees. Toss onions in the flour and shake off excess.

Fry in oil until golden, quickly removing to avoid burning. Drain on a paper-towel lined plate. Dust with kosher salt and cayenne. Reserve oil for frying the eggs.

Assemble sandwich:

Heat a charcoal grill on high or a sauté pan over medium heat; preheat your oven or broiler to 375 degrees or medium heat.

Sear steaks. The sugar in the rub will caramelize quickly, giving good texture while keeping the meat rare. (If using a sauté pan, use a thin coating of oil.)

Set the steaks aside and heat 1/2 cup oil in a small sauté pan over high heat. One at a time, fry eggs in the reserved oil. Use caution because they will spit a little oil, but the high heat will give a crunchy base to the white while keeping the yolk liquid. Remove eggs to paper towel as they are finished.

Brush sourdough slices with oil or melted butter and toast on grill or in sauté pan while eggs fry.

Slice steaks and position them across the sourdough slices. Top with Swiss cheese and place under broiler or in the oven to melt.

Top sandwiches with warm redeye gravy, fried egg, chives, and crispy onions.

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