Legendary Dishes | Bookies Sandwich (beef steak sandwich)

ENGLAND IRELAND EUROPE USA

The bookies sandwich got its name a long time after it was established as a packed lunch eaten by workers in various labouring jobs and people involved with hunt and race meetings.

In England it was a thick seasoned sirloin steak grilled and placed between thick loaf crusts spread with horseradish and mustard condiments.

In Ireland it was a thick seasoned rump steak grilled and placed between white soda farls spread with caramelised onions.

The English version was wrapped in paper and cold pressed for 30 minutes. By the middle of the 20th century the ‘bookmakers sandwich’ was a pub food in Britain and Ireland, and in Irish pubs across Europe and America.

The Vienna loaf replaced the batch loaf crusts and soda bread, then the ciabatta replaced the Vienna. In Ireland the Waterford blaa is used to hold the steak, because it is seen as the ideal bread bun for soaking up the juices from the meat and the flavourings from the condiments and seasonings.

Elsewhere the condiments betray its origins, and the meat will be beef or veal tenderloins, the latter in continental Europe.

Batch Loaf Version

  • 700 g (4 x 175 g) dexter beef sirloin steaks, thick)
  • 8 (4 cm) thick bread crusts
  • 100 g creamed horseradish
  • 100 g English smooth mustard
  • 15 g black pepper, freshly ground
  • 10 g salt

Spread four crusts with horseradish and four with mustard, according to taste. Season steaks, heavy with pepper for a spicy flavouring, grill according to preference. Place a steak and juices between each set of crusts, wrap in greaseproof paper, leave each sandwich under a heavy weight for an hour. Eat cold.

Vienna / Ciabatta Version

  • 700 g (4 x 175 g beef / veal tenderloin steaks, thick)
  • 2 breads, side cut along length, halved
  • 100 g Dijon coarse mustard
  • 25 g soft butter
  • 15 g black pepper, freshly ground
  • 10 g salt

Spread four pieces of bread with mustard, and four with butter, according to taste. Season steaks, heavy with pepper for a spicy flavouring, grill according to preference. Place a steak and juices on buttered breads, top with mustard breads, wrap in greaseproof paper, leave each sandwich under a heavy weight for an hour. Eat cold.

Blaa / Huffa Version

  • 700 g (4 x 175 g dexter beef rump steaks, thick)
  • 4 Waterford blaas / huffas, side cut along length
  • 500 g onions, halved, sliced
  • 25 g soft butter
  • 15 g black pepper, freshly ground
  • 10 g salt
  • Oil, for frying

Sauté onions in oil over a low heat for an hour, until they are brown and almost crispy. Spread four bread halves with butter, four with onions. Season steaks, heavy with pepper for a spicy flavouring, grill according to preference. Place a steak and juices on onion breads, top with buttered breads, press down with hands, leave to cool. Eat cold.