In my make-believe world of sandwich poker, I offer the following hierarchy: A warm sandwich beats a pair of cold ones.
Steak as filling, when cooked properly, ranks right up there with one-eyed jacks. And when a nutritional analysis for the whole thing manages to stay within the healthful zone, well, you've got a winning hand.
Exhibit A: These steak gyros, juicy and slathered with a charred-onion yogurt sauce. The meat's flavor is enhanced with a quick rub before it is broiled. Thinly sliced onion goes on the same pan, to save time and energy. While those are underway, you give carrot slices the quick-pickle treatment; they lend welcome crunch and acidity.
When you are making this on a weeknight and have the flank steak already in the freezer; you can transfer the meat to the refrigerator the night before, and it will be defrosted and ready to go. On the night of, you can defrost via the microwave or using this pan-sandwich method we found online. Fun with science, or dinner and a show.
It's best to fill your pitas just before serving.
1 pound flank steak
Four 6-inch whole-wheat pitas
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium red onion
2 large carrots
1 cup water
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup full-fat plain yogurt
Green leaf lettuce (optional)
Defrost the steak using a quick method, as needed.
Position an oven rack 6 inches from the broiler element; preheat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Stack then wrap the pitas in aluminum foil and place on the rack farthest from the broiler element while the oven is preheating.
Whisk together 1 tablespoon of the oil, the cumin, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper in a wide, shallow bowl. Place the meat on the baking sheet, then rub all the mixture on both sides of the steak.
Cut the onion into thin slices, placing them in the bowl that just held the steak mixture. Drizzle them with the remaining tablespoon of oil and season them with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, tossing to coat. Arrange them around the steak.
Remove the pita packet from the oven. Transfer the baking sheet with steak and onion to the oven; broil (top rack) for 5 to 7 minutes, then turn the steak over; broil for about 5 minutes, or just long enough to monitor the meat (if you have an instant-read thermometer, the interior temperature should register about 145 degrees, for medium-rare). Transfer the now-nicely charred onion slices to a plate, then return the baking sheet to the oven and broil for an additional 2 minutes, or as needed. Transfer the steak to a cutting board to rest.
While the meat rests, scrub the carrots well. Trim and then cut them on the diagonal into thin slices. Combine the water, vinegar, sugar and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then add the carrots and cook for about a minute. Turn off the heat.
Drain the carrots, discarding the quick pickling liquid.
Combine the charred onion slices, yogurt and a small pinch each of salt and pepper in a medium bowl, stirring to incorporate. Cut the steak on the diagonal into thin slices.
Unwrap the pitas and cut each one in half; gently pry open each half and fill with the steak, some lettuce leaves, if using, pickled carrot and onion-yogurt sauce. Serve warm.
– Based on a recipe at EatingWell.com
– Bonnie S. Benwick, Washington Post