Do you know what new(ish) restaurant trend I really, really love? Fancy, over the top sandwich shops. The first one I went to of this type is a place called Lardo in Portland. They for reals have a pork belly gyro. There’s also a side called “dirty fries” that consists of pork scraps from the sandwiches, peppers, fried herbs, and parmesan on top of french fries. Just stop it, Lardo.
I just really love a good sandwich. Although I will say, I don’t enjoy cold meat unless it’s of the thinly sliced variety. Even on a salad. When I order a chicken caesar in a restaurant, I’m that annoying weirdo who asks if they can heat the chicken before adding it to the salad. Yikes. And cold steak… nu-uh. I want it in it’s straight off the grill form.
Salami, though? No problem, I will eat all of it. Chorizo? That is absolutely fine, pass the pepper jack cheese while you’re at it.
We were at one of those fancy sandwich type places that was also a deli, so we decided to take some precious cured meat, funky cheese, and crusty rolls home to make our own concoctions, resulting in the smoked beef sandwich. My far and away favorite thing we took away from that little shop was the smoked beef. Yes, roast beef is quite good. Who doesn’t love a roast beef sandwich dipped in plenty of salty drippings? But smoked beef… Wowza. Salty, smokey, and the absolute perfect texture. I don’t think I can really describe the texture to you. You’re just going to need to find the deli nearest to you that carries this magical stuff and take home as much as you can. We did not get enough.
And these rolls… they were crusty sourdough sandwich rolls with a tortoise pattern cut into the tops. They were essentially the perfect sandwich bread. After cutting them in half, I buttered the inside and pressed them into a hot pan to lightly toast just the inside.
Then I had one of those moments of inspiration that only come when you’re staring into your fridge wondering what you can possibly concoct with whatcha got. I spotted some garlic Just Mayo, basil, and cilantro and went for it. This type of flavor combination had gone really well with the curry fries and cilantro mint yogurt sauce I had recently whipped up, so I knew it would be a winner.
Mayo on one bun, beef on the other. Seriously, people. Just look at that smoked beef. Is that not the prettiest beef you’ve ever seen?
Then on went some fontina and arugula. I really wanted a cheese that wouldn’t overpower the beef and the fontina lent the most perfect subtle creaminess to this sandwich. Ditto for the greens- arugula was so perfect. Fun fact: in South Africa, they call arugula “rocket” which is way more fun. That might be a phrase I insist on using upon our return to the States.
Then I really did you all a favor by waiting to enjoy my handiwork and snap a few pictures of the finished product. Even though it was very simple and certainly can’t compete with the over-the-topness of a pork belly bahn mi, this was for reals one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten.
So go find yourself some smoked beef, make yourself some super tasty basil cilantro mayo, and enjoy this Smoked Beef Sandwich with Basil Cilantro Mayo! It will be a million times yummier if you use good quality ingredients, so just this once steer yourself over to the fancy cheese section and get some bakery sandwich rolls. I promise it’ll be worth the $5.
- ⅓ cup mayo
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- ¼ cup cilantro
- ¼ cup basil
- 2 sourdough sandwich rolls
- 1 tbsp butter
- 6 slices smoked beef
- 4 slices fontina cheese
- ½ cup arugula
- Add the mayo, garlic, cilantro, and basil to your food processor. Pulse until herbs have been chopped into very small piece and the mixture is blended.
- Heat a nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Butter the inside of the sandwich rolls. Press them into the heated skillet, buttered side down, until just toasted. Set aside.
- Assemble the sandwich by smearing the cilantro basil mayo on the top bun. Stack 3 slices of smoked beef, 2 slices of butter, and half the arugula on each sandwich.
- Slice in half to serve.