Magic Sandwiches

2 Dec


I wanna be clear about something.

These sandwiches aren’t called “Magic Sandwiches” because they’re somehow mystical or I’m an amazing cook or anything like that.  They’re tasty, but that’s not why they’re called “Magic Sandwiches”.

They’re called that because when I was little, my parents dragged along my unwittingly smiling ass twice a week to see a shitty professional basketball team called the Orlando Magic lose against another, less shitty professional basketball team.  And though, through some combination of confusion and stockholm syndrome, I actually liked watching this “team” play, the important part of going to an arena filled with beer and people that smelled like beer was getting these delicious prime rib sandwiches.

And yes, they’re simple.  You take a giant, bloody slab of beef, chuck it in an oven, and slap it on a bun with some horseradish sauce.  But in a world of infinite toppings and 5-foot-long sub monstrosities and “sandwich artists”, that’s what we could use, damnit.  Simplicity.  And meat.  Mostly meat.

Here’s what you need:

– 3 lbs beef tenderloin

– Salt/pepper

– 4 vidalia onions

– 4 tablespoons (1/2 a stick) of butter

– 1 tablespoon olive oil

– 6 kaiser rolls

– Horseradish Sauce (THIS IS IMPORTANT.  If you get a jar of regular horseradish that doesn’t say “Sauce”, it will burn the ever-loving shit out of your nostrils.  Unless you have a cold or a death wish, get the right stuff.)

Here’s how you do it:

First, preheat that oven to 450.

Get a large skillet or pan or metal cooking thing and heat 2 tablespoons of butter in it on medium high.

Pictured: smartness.

Pictured: smartness.

Now, if you’re lazy and/or smart like me, you told the butcher to trim up your tenderloin and tie it.  If you’re not, trim off the fat, tuck the tail (that’s the thinner part at the end) underneath the main part of the tenderloin, and tie it up with cooking twine to hold it in place.

Season both sides with plenty of salt and pepper, then throw it in the pan when the butter’s melted.


Sear the beef for two to three minutes on each side, just enough to get a nice brown crust.

Place the beef in a roasting pan and use a pastry brush to brush the butter and juices from the pan all over that beef.  Use every part of the buffalo folks, especially if that buffalo is covered in butter.

Put the roasting pan in the oven for 15 minutes.

While the beef’s getting all nice and tasty, start in on your caramelized onions.

Melt the other 2 tablespoons of butter in the same pan you seared the beef in, and add the olive oil as well.

Or, y'kno...thin-ish.

Or, y’kno…thin-ish.

Slice up your onions (and get ’em thin, damnit), then throw them in the pan on medium heat.


Throw in a pinch of salt, stir for 10 minutes, then turn it down to low and keep giving it the occasional stir.  Caramelized onions pretty much just cook themselves, so as long as you stir it occasionally and don’t leave the house entirely, you should be golden.

Check the beef after those 15 minutes are up.  Chances are, if you have a shitty oven like I do, it won’t be quite done: you want an internal temperature (that’s what that fancy meat probe you got in a drunk Williams & Sonoma rage is for, people) of about 120-125.  If it’s not there, stick it back in the oven for another 10 minutes, and keep checking until you’re at the right temperature.

Once the beef’s ready, take it out and LET IT REST.  Seriously: put it on a cutting board and don’t touch it, don’t breathe on it, don’t even whisper sweet nothings in its ear for 5 minutes.  There’s a few reasons for this:

A) The beef is still cooking internally when you take it out of the oven, so this lets it finish the job.

B) Letting it rest helps it hold in those juices you worked so hard to keep in by searing it earlier.

C) Beef tenderloins don’t have ears.  Idiot.


After, and ONLY AFTER (do I have to remind you again?) you’ve let it rest, slice the beef thin, lightly toast one of those kaiser rolls, and add some onions and horseradish.  And taste the magic.

This week’s magical beats come from none other than Kanye West (and about 80 other rappers).  It’s Lord, Lord, Lord:

So maybe, yeah, there’s a little magic in the fact that I remembered a very specific roast beef sandwich through a haze of middle-aged basketball fans and the eventual vomit of those very same fans clogging the walkways of the TD Waterhouse Arena’s bathrooms.  Taste has a weird way of doing that, of cutting through the smells of sweat and rubber and metal and making its way to spicy, slow-roasted perfection.

Hold onto those tastes, people.  They don’t come around too often.

See you next time.


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