~ The Chivito: Beef, Bacon, Ham, Egg and Cheese ~
I did not dream this sandwich combo up -- no one could -- not even in their wildest dreams. It's a very famous sandwich though. To be exact, it's the National Sandwich of Uruguay. It's called "chivito", which, interestingly enough, means "goat" in Spanish, but oddly enough, contains absolutely no goat meat or goat cheese. It gets more confusing, because Uruguay is world-famous for it's high-quality beef, which is almost entirely grass-fed (rather than mass produced).
As the story goes, in 1946, at a beachside restaurant named El Mejillón in Punte del Este, Uruguay, an Argentine woman on vacation asked for a sandwich made with grilled baby goat meat -- a common ingredient in her neighboring country -- Argentina.
The chef, Antonio Carbonada, had no goat, but he did have lots of Uruguay's exquisite beef. He quickly grilled a thin boneless beef-steak and melted cheese over the top. He placed it on a sandwich roll slathered with "salsa golf" (a mixture of mayonnaise and ketchup), then layered it with two types of porcine: sliced cooked ham and crisp-fried bacon. A fried egg completed the protein-laden part of this extravaganza. Lettuce, tomato, onion and roasted red pepper were piled high on top and the whole thing was held together with a sandwich-pick full of briny olives. "Chivito" he proclaimed, when he delivered his creative goat-less sandwich to her table.
Uruguay is world-famous for its exquisite grass-fed beef.
Whether you buy into this story or not, one thing is certain, the "chivito" is right up there with iconic sandwiches like the "reuben", the "cheesesteak" and the "cubano" (plus a long list of others). Say the word and you pretty much know what your going to get. That said, when a dish enters the realm of "iconic" or "national", expect hundreds of variations. For example: The cut of beef-steak, while always tender and pounded thin varies from sandwich shop to sandwich shop. Rib-eye is my choice, but tenderloin and even skirt steak (churrasco) are also common.
Sometimes the cheese is mozzarella, sometimes it's not, sometimes it's melted over the steak and others it's not. The rolls can be round (like Kaiser) or elongated (like Portuguese). Some make the sandwich without ham, others use Canadian bacon in place of ham and bacon (a "chivito canadiense"). Some versions contain a runny-yolked fried egg, other contain sliced hard-cooked egg. Lasty, if you're counting carbs (certainly not calories), they'll just pile everything on a plate and serve it sans the bun with a knife and fork (a "chivito al plato").
4 semi-firm, 8" long rolls
1 cup salsa golf -- mixture of 3/4 mayonnaise mixed with 1/4 cup ketchup
2 1"-thick rib-eye steaks, about 14-15 ounces each, sliced, pounded and sautéed as directed below
8 slices deli-style mozzarella cheese
1/2-3/4 cup red onion, thinly-sliced into half-moon shapes
8 Bibb lettuce leaves
8 slices deli-style cooked ham
thinly-sliced tomatoes, how many depends on the size of the tomatoes
8 slices thick-sliced bacon, crisply-fried
8 large eggs, fried or hard-cooked and sliced, your choice
4 teaspoons diced sweet pimientos, for garnish
8 green olives and 8 toothpicks, for garnish
2 1 1/2"-thick, 14-15 ounce beef rib-eye steaks
freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend
~ Step 1. Place both steaks on a small plate in the freezer for about 45-60 minutes. Freezing them just long enough to firm them up will make them easy to slice evenly.
~ Step 4. Using a flat-sided meat mallet, lightly pound them, just enough to increase their surface area by about a third, or, to a thickness of slightly less than 1/2". Do not smash them to smithereens.
~ Step 5. Lightly season tops of the pounded steaks with freshly ground sea salt and pepper. Set aside.
Leave all of the bacon drippings remaining in the hot skillet.
~Step 7. Add the seasoned steaks to the bacon drippings in skillet and sauté until just short of being cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the steaks to a paper-towel lined plate to drain and to rest.
~ Step 8. Crack 8 eggs into the hot drippings in the hot skillet, season tops with salt and pepper and fry to your liking. My liking is runny yolks, which takes about 2 1/2-3 minutes. Now it's time to assemble the sandwiches.
~Step 9. Slather salsa golf on the bottom of each roll. Cut a steak into two pieces to fit roll (so it's not hanging over sides) and arrange steak on top. Add two slices of mozzarella and arrange sliced onions and lettuce leaves over the steak. Add two slices of ham (folding to make them fit). Next it's time for tomatoes and two bacon slices. A couple of eggs and some diced pimientos and that's it.
Put a pretty lid on it...
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 16" electric skillet; large nonstick spatula; 8 sandwich picks; serrated bread knife
Cook's Note: For another iconic sandwich made famous by the Portuguese, click into Category 2 to learn how I make ~ The Bifana: A Perfect Portuguese Pork Sandwich ~. If you're inclined to learn how to bake their rolls too, ~ Papo Secos: Portuguese Dinner/Sandwich Rolls ~, can be be found in Category 5.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)