2010 January: Ask Chef Jeff

Q: We make a cheese steak sub with pressed steak. We cook the meat, usually with a bit of oil, then add salt and pepper during the cooking process. Lastly, we add the cheese. We toast the roll, then add lettuce and tomato. It is good, but I am going for that “Man, that’s good!” reaction. Suggestions?

 

 

A: If you want a ‘Wow’ product, you must to start with ‘Wow’ ingredients. I used to sell tons of steak a year in my shops. I used real shaved steak. Always weigh it before it hits the grill. I added my own seasoned salt. We would kind of shred the steak apart some more while cooking it. For all of my subs, the customer added whatever they wanted. We would list all the free ingredients and spreads as well as extras like grilled peppers, onions or mushrooms. If your bread is fresh and soft enough, toasting is not necessary.

I serve only two pastas –– spaghetti and lasagna. I keep the pasta servings in the cooler until we need them and then microwave the serving. Is this the right way to handle pasta?

You can also heat your portioned spaghetti in boiling water for 15 seconds, making sure you drain it well before plating it. Try to create several different pasta dishes with ingredients already in your store. That will jazz up your menu and really pique customers’ curiosity and will get them to think of you as a legitimate pasta house. Adding Alfredo will also give you more pasta dishes for your guests to choose from.

I have tried using Ciabatta bread, foccacia bread, hoagie rolls, pitas and flatbreads. I don’t know what works best with which meats or what type of sandwiches. What bread works best in what cooking method, with what ingredients?

I’ve been through the same in my experimentations with different breads. Here is my conclusion: If you have a really great sub roll, a wrap, a nice fl at bread for paninis and gyros, and perhaps a whole wheat choice, that’s all you need! Consider making your own sub rolls. I do that every day in my Italian restaurant now. You can really separate yourself from your competitors when you bake your sub rolls. Make sure you can handle it well, keeping up with the volume before you make the switch!

We use a Greek flatbread for our paninis and it has great flavor. I want to introduce Hot Wraps. Can I use the same product? You really need to use a tortilla for a wrap. A 12-inch wrap is suitable for sandwiches. You must be careful that you don’t have too much moisture inside the wrap or it will make it too soggy and fall apart. You can also use the tortilla for a nice, grilled, folded quesadilla. That makes a great starter or even a kiddie meal.

Jeffrey Freehof, owner of The Garlic Clove in Evans, Georgia, is Pizza Today’s resident expert. Send your questions to: Ask Chef Jeff, c/o Pizza Today, 908 South Eighth Street, Suite 200, Louisville, Kentucky, 40203.