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Healthful twist on the French dip doubles as fun finger food

UPDATED: Tue., Sept. 29, 2020

Thinly sliced, lean steak, garlicky mushrooms and fresh spinach are rolled into a whole grain wrap, then cut crosswise into pinwheels and served alongside a deeply savory, brothy gravy for dipping.  (Laura Chase de Formigny/For the Washington Post)
Thinly sliced, lean steak, garlicky mushrooms and fresh spinach are rolled into a whole grain wrap, then cut crosswise into pinwheels and served alongside a deeply savory, brothy gravy for dipping. (Laura Chase de Formigny/For the Washington Post)
By Ellie Krieger Special To The Washington Post ·

One upside of working from home, as many of us are these days, is the ability to upgrade your lunch from what you might normally tote to the office. Take a sandwich, for example. At home, you can incorporate small transformative elements typically impossible at work, such as warming it to melt the cheese and toast the bread or adding a fat slice of tomato without worrying about sogginess.

You also can make a hot gravy to dunk your sandwich into, French-dip style. That’s the idea for this recipe but with a fun twist: Instead of regular bread, here the filling is rolled into a wrap, then cut crosswise into attractive bite-size pinwheels. It adds up to a mouthwatering, nutritionally balanced meal that’s made in one skillet, so it’s not only a pure pleasure to eat, it’s practical and healthful, too.

To make it, you start by searing the steak until it forms a nice, brown crust and is cooked to your liking. While the meat rests, you add a heap of mushrooms to the same skillet, which, as they soften and brown, take on the rich meaty flavors left in the pan. Once the mushrooms are cooked and moved out of the pan, the jus is made in the same skillet by sauteing shallots, then adding sherry (you could substitute red wine) and beef broth, spiking with Worcestershire and reducing to a savory, brothy gravy.

The mushrooms and thinly sliced steak get rolled up with spinach leaves in a whole-grain wrap (together, the mushrooms and the meat make a modest portion of lean beef seem heftier – a key culinary nutrition tactic). The wrap is cut crosswise into pinwheels, arranged on a plate and served with a ramekin of the hot jus for dipping.

Satisfying and slurpy, the dish is not only a lunch or dinner worthy of a work break, it also makes for a fun finger food for, say, watching the game with friends when we can do that kind of thing again.

With all the challenges that come with spending so much time cooped up at home, you have to look for the bright spots, and the possibility of a warm steak sandwich with hot gravy for dipping is definitely one of them.

French Dip Pinwheels

1 (12-ounce) strip or sirloin steak (about 1-inch thick), trimmed (see note)

½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

8 ounces white button or cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated

1 large shallot, minced (about ⅓ cup)

½ cup dry sherry

1 cup low-sodium beef stock

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

4 large (10-inch wide) whole-grain tortillas

4 cups (2 ¾ ounces) lightly packed fresh baby spinach

Pat the steak dry with paper towels and season the meat on both sides with ¼ teaspoon each of the salt and pepper.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Place the steak in the skillet and cook until it forms a brown crust and the meat is cooked to your liking, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board (keep the skillet on the stove top) and let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing as thinly as possible across the grain.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to the same skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Add the mushrooms and the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release their water, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer the mushrooms to a dish.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan, then add the shallot and return the pan to medium heat. Cook the shallot, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sherry, increase the heat to medium-high and cook until it is reduced by about half, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock, Worcestershire and the remaining ¼ teaspoon of pepper and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced to about 1 cup total, about 5 minutes.

To make the pinwheels, place a tortilla on a work surface. Scatter 1 cup spinach all over it, then top with a quarter each of the mushrooms and steak slices. Roll the tortilla up tightly, then use a serrated knife to cut it crosswise into three to four pinwheels. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling. Arrange the pinwheels seam side down on serving plates, or use toothpicks to secure them. Serve each accompanied by a ramekin of the jus for dipping.

Note: If your steak is thicker than 1 inch, you might need to finish it in the oven at 400 degrees until the internal meat temperature reaches 135 degrees for medium-rare (or longer depending on your preference for doneness). Depending on the thickness of the meat, it could take up to 10 minutes.

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