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Open steak sandwich with onions and barbecue sauce

You'll need

1 kg piece hanger steak, at room temperature For drizzling: olive oil 2 ciabatta rolls, halved horizontally 2 Spanish onions, thickly sliced 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, thickly sliced To serve: good-quality mayonnaise 1 cup (loosely packed) wild rocket   Barbecue sauce 40 gm butter, coarsely chopped 2 onions, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 125 ml Kentucky bourbon 350 ml tomato sauce 250 ml (1 cup) each tomato passata and cider vinegar 150 gm brown sugar 80 ml (1/3 cup) Worcestershire sauce 60 gm (¼ cup) molasses 3 canned chipotle chillies in adobo (see note) 1 tbsp chipotle Tabasco (see note) Juice of 1 lemon


  • 01
  • For barbecue sauce, heat butter in a large saucepan over low heat, add onion and garlic and stir occasionally until very tender (10-15 minutes). Increase heat to medium, add bourbon, bring to the simmer, then add remaining ingredients except lemon juice. Reduce heat to low and stir occasionally until thick and dark (45-50 minutes). Add juice, season to taste, pour into sterile containers or jars, seal and refrigerate to cool. Makes about 1 litre. Barbecue sauce will keep refrigerated for 3 weeks in a sterile airtight container.
  • 02
  • Preheat a barbecue to medium heat. Drizzle steak with a little olive oil, season to taste and barbecue, turning frequently, until cooked to your liking (15-20 minutes for medium-rare). Set aside to rest for 10 minutes then thickly slice.
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, drizzle cut-sides of ciabatta with a little oil, season to taste, grill on barbecue until toasted (1-2 minutes), set aside.
  • 04
  • Drizzle onion with a little oil, season to taste and barbecue on the flat plate, stirring occasionally, until tender (5-10 minutes). 5 Spread cut-sides of ciabatta with mayonnaise, divide steak among ciabatta, top with tomato, onion and rocket, season to taste and serve with barbecue sauce.

Note Canned chipotle chillies in adobo and chipotle Tabasco are available from select grocers and delicatessens.

Oh the joys of January. After the frenzied festive season it's time to draw breath, relax and enjoy all summer has to offer: balmy days, evening swims and backyard barbecues.

And while the barbie is all about that perfect steak or snag, here at GT we're great believers in the power of the almighty condiment. Our desert-island condiment of choice is barbecue sauce - homemade, of course.

Both North and South Carolina in the USA stake claims to the sauce's origins, although there are four key schools - mustard, vinegar-and-pepper, light tomato, and heavy tomato - all with seemingly endless iterations. Although the vinegar-and-pepper type has the longest history, it's the heavy-tomato barbecue sauce we're most familiar with today.

Many companies claim to have produced the first commercial barbecue sauce, but one that could argue its case strongly - if it still existed - is Atlanta's Georgia Barbecue Sauce Company. An advertisement for its sauce was published in the Atlanta Constitution in 1909. Another contender is the Louis Maull Company, which began manufacturing it sauce in St Louis, Missouri, in 1926, and continues to produce it using the same recipe today.

While every region has its own version of the sauce, those from Kansas City and Memphis are the most notable. Kansas City's is red-brown, thick and quite sweet, most similar to commercially produced versions; the Memphis sauce has a vinegar kick and is sweetened with molasses rather than sugar.

We've channelled the Memphis style here because the extra vinegar cuts through the richness of the meat. We've also added, less classically, canned chipotle chillies in adobo for their deep, smoky flavour. A similar result can be achieved with smoked paprika added incrementally to taste.

Slather the sauce on barbecued meats or serve it on the perfect steak sandwich as we've done here. If only January could last forever.

At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Featured in

Jan 2012

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