Sunday, June 15, 2008

Roast beef sandwiches

Each year I think of cooking a large Dutch oven lunch for the crew at the El Dorado County Fair. Instead, I opt to run out to the Union Mine High School's hamburger concession for lunch. The burger, french fries and iced tea are refreshing, and it gives me a chance to support a local school.

While I never tire of a well-prepared hamburger, fair food doesn't really thrill me. It's expensive, even at the non-profit concession stands. And fair food lacks any real interest to me at all.

This year I knew bringing a lot of cast iron into the museum was out of the question. Limited parking, transportation issues and the need to assist the railroad crew make cooking at the fair an impractical proposition.

My solution was to cook for the crew of the El Dorado Western Railway at home. Given the hot weather (the thermometer topped 93 degrees in Placerville), I thought the crew would enjoy a menu of roast beef sandwiches, potato salad and fresh vegetable would.

With a little planning, you can prepare this meal at home over one or two days and transport it to your project site. This gives you the opportunity to help with the work of the project. On-site meal assembly should take about 30 minutes for a crew of a dozen or so.


I used two small tri-tip roasts for this recipe. To roast, place two seasoned tri-tip roasts (about 2 pounds each) in a 350-degree oven. Roast until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees. Remove from oven, rest and cool completely before slicing for sandwiches. Allow for about 25 percent loss then roasting the tri-tip.

3 pounds freshly sliced rare roast beef
24 slices crusty sourdough bread (24 slices)
1-1/2 cups horseradish sauce (recipe follows)
4 medium tomatoes, sliced thin
2 cups marinated red onion (recipe follows)
2-1/2 ounces fresh baby arugula (about 3 cups loosely packed)

When feeding a crew on an off-site project, roast tri-tip or top round beef roast two days prior. Prepare horseradish sauce, slice and marinate red onions and slice tomatoes the evening before lunch. Assemble the sandwiches that same evening or on-site (as I did) as desired. Pack the meal in an ice cooler for safe transport to the project site.

To assemble each sandwich: Evenly spread 1 tablespoon horseradish sauce on 2 slices of bread. Layer 3 or 4 slices roast beef (about 4 ounces) on the bottom bread. Top with 3 tomato slices, 2 tablespoons marinated onions and 1/4-cup arugula. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper if desired. Cover with bread and slice sandwich in half.

Makes 12 sandwiches. Serve with a zesty potato salad made with a herb and red wine vinegarette and a fresh vegetable tray.


Use the onions as condiment for roast beef sandwiches, topping for a dinner salad or plate garnish for holiday turkey.

2 medium red onion, sliced thin
2 tablespoons kosher salt
3/4 cup red wine vinegar

In a small bowl, mix together the onion and kosher salt. Brine the onions for 20 minutes. Rinse with cold running water, drain and squeeze to remove excess liquid. Combine onions and vinegar and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.


I find the 2 ounces prepared horseradish for each cup of the finished sauce is just right. The flavor comes through with overpowering your diners. This recipe makes enough for 12 or more sandwiches. Save any leftover sauce for other uses.

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup light sour cream
4 ounces prepared horseradish
pinch kosher salt
pinch white pepper

Whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, horseradish, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Refrigerate until needed.

To prepare mustard horseradish sauce: reduce sour cream to 3/4-cup and add 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons each Dijon-style and whole-grain mustard. Continue with recipe.

1 comment:

  1. Great Blog! I spent eight summers working at summer camps; another eight as a park ranger; and now I'm running a Conservation Camp. My family goes camping at least once a month and we blog our adventures at

    Love your recipes! Take care... Ed