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RBR Tailgating: The Once a Month Steak Sandwich

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A hate week revelation, a new charge against an old rival, and lunch.

It was while converting some of the photos I took for this post to black and white that I had a revelation. Some of the chips I bought were orange (that's not the revelation), an unfortunate and unacceptable presentation considering, and while I was removing the horrid tincture from my otherwise sterling images with the magic of Picasa, it occurred to me that it might be fun to make a list of offensive orange things to get in the Tennessee Volunteer hating spirit. It didn't go as planned.

Start mentally listing orange things. It's one thing to echo the claim that their uniforms look like puke, but puke is only that color if you ate oranges, tangerines, or clementines - all delicious - before giving them back to the world. Doritos, Cheetos, Sunkist - fantastically fake orange fake food. Don't want fake? Carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes. It goes on. Orange food is amazing.

The dining room of my favorite Birmingham restaurant is painted orange. I liked it so much that I painted (by which I mean I consulted on the color and my wife did the actual application with the brush etc.) the dining room in my house the same color. I bought the paint at Home Depot.

I'm sitting in my kitchen. A quick orange inventory of the room reveals navel oranges (good), gerbera daisies (good), red pepper flakes (good), and the foil on a cheap jug malbec (surprisingly good).  My "good" list goes on: an R.E.M. album, the Baltimore Orioles, Wesley Sneijder, a Neil Gaiman story (I tried to find a video of his 2010 reading at the Bama Theater, but it was not to be), Monarch Butterflies, and that Farrah Fawcett pinup. I asked my eight year old if he could think of bad orange things. We were in the car en route to his karate class. He's an orange belt.

Sans football, my "bad" list of orange is remarkably short. The persistence of spray-on tan means that my prejudice against it is a matter of taste and might not be shared by the populace as a whole. Candy corn is vile, but only orange by virtue of artificial color. Why that is treated different than the artificial coloring of Doritos, Cheetos, or Sunkist is a matter of editorial discretion that need not be addressed here. Learn your place.

So I had a revelation. If I were to sit in judgement of the color I'd be forced to admit that so long as college football uniforms are excluded, I really like orange. The scales tip overwhelmingly in its favor. It's once you add college football uniforms that things change. And let's be clear, we are talking about Tennessee uniforms here. Auburn has orange, but aside from the occasional day glow nightmare jersey games, they relegate it mostly to trim. Texas makes an occasional foray into the limelight but is usually comfortably tucked in under a regional comforter woven from self importance and so can be safely ignored. I have a Facebook friend who gamely maintains that something called Syracuse exists, but otherwise there is no similarly plumaged team that ever enters my consciousness. Such is the power of the vileness of Tennessee that it obliterates any goodwill garnered by any noun that happens to reflect light of the same frequency. I hate them so much.

So let's add to snitchery, unearned arrogance, rampant but mundane and uninspired criminality, and colluding with the army to force poor Kurt Vonnegut to attend classes in Knoxville an additional raison d'hatre. For the week leading up to a game with them, when as fans we are forced to focus on them, their images on our web sites, newspapers, and magazines so enrage and poison sensibilities that they impugn by association fruit, snack food, soft drinks, vegetables, fine dining, my home, affordable DIY, more fruit, flora, spiciness, reasonably priced alcohol, alternative rock, a national pastime, international soccer, literature, natural splendor, blonds, and sanctioned violence and in doing so deprive right minded individuals the proper enjoyment of said.

The long and the short of it is, if you are going to make this sandwich for this week's game, do not serve with orange chips. It'll just ruin your mood.

The Once a Month Steak Sandwich

-          Flank Steak, 4-6 ounces per person

-          Soy Sauce, roughly 8 ounces per Flank

-          French Bread, six or so inches per sandwich

-          Bacon Grease

-          Provolone Cheese, two slices per sandwich

-          Roma Tomatoes, three slices per sandwich

-          Spring Lettuce Mix

-          2 cloves Garlic, minced

-          Sesame Oil

-          Red Wine Vinegar

A quick note on the name: The Once a Month Steak Sandwich was conceived at a time when the fat is good/fat is bad discussion was at a nadir for the pro fat faction. Since fat, and by extension bacon, was out of favor we had to assume that any recipe calling for bacon grease as a condiment would raise alarms among the cardiologically inclined and should be enjoyed only on occasion. As it happens fat is back in favor so long as caveats about moderation and regular exercise are nodded at. In reality, the amount of grease involved here is probably no more than would be ingested when just eating a piece of bacon. But have no fear. These things are cyclical. The scolds rarely rest for long so bacon will be bad again and the name will make sense once more.

OAMSS Marinade

Place each the steak in a 9"x13" pyrex or similar dish and pour in soy to cover just more than the bottom half of the meat. Marinate for 10 minutes. Flip it and marinate for another 10. My mother never did this with any other cut, but before marinating flank she would poke it ten or so times with a fork on each side. The idea is to both tenderize and infuse the meat with the marinade. I'm not really sure that it works but I still do it as some sort of culinary version of Pascal's Wager so you should too.

OAMSS Grill

Next grill over high heat for 4-5 minutes per side.

OAMSS Sliced

Slice ribbon thin. I can't stress this enough. Slice as thinly as is humanly possible. Flank has well earned but completely unfair reputation as being far too tough for many diners. Well earned, because flank is tough. Unfair, because sliced properly it's no harder to chew than a New York Strip.*

Set the steak aside. Open a pound of bacon and make grease.

OAMSS Bacon

Do what you will with the bacon. Throw it away. Feed it to the dog. Set it out for your guests but be warned, it is a blow to the creativity of anyone who has ever labored to serve original and well presented finger food how quickly and enthusiastically six adults and four children will devour an unadorned plate of bacon strips.

OAMSS Meat on Pan

Slice the bread into six inch lengths and then slice in half like you would expect you would have to do to put sandwich ingredients in bread. Place the inside of each six inch length, both top and bottom, in the bacon pan to soak up a bit of grease for a second or two. Set on a baking sheet and top one side per with meat and provolone and then put into an oven preheated to 400˚ until the cheese melt; 3 or 4 minutes.

OAMSS Melted

Put the garlic in a bowl and add a few glugs of sesame oil. Slowly add few splashes of red wine vinegar and taste, and add and taste until you are get a lively acidity from the vinegar without overshadowing the nuttiness of the sesame. Correct with more oil if you go too far and then season with a splash of soy sauce in lieu of salt. Toss the spring mix with the vinaigrette going a little heavier on dressing than you normally would.

OAMSS BW Sandwich

Add a few slices of tomato and the dressed lettuces and serve.

So there's a beefy, fresh, herby, salty, garlicy, nutty sandwich for your perusal. I hope you like it. Ideally, I want Zapps Hotter-than-Hot Jalapeno chips to go with this but they are so inconsistently spicy. Some bags are flat out angry. Others might as well be their regular flavor. Since this is food for a game featuring the Alabama Crimson Tide, let's stick to Golden Flake. Just, and I must say it again, not the unfortunately colored Hot bag. Also, call your Momma.

OAMSS BW Chips

*But it does still have big grains. Toothpicks should be on hand.