The Jimmy Hoffa (aka The Trade Unionist)

When it comes to making sandwiches, hot ones anyway, you have a decision to make. As critical as the overall character of the sandwich you endeavor to make, is the selection of meat for the deliverable. When it comes to making hot sandwiches there really is no second to the ribeye. While the Jimmy Hoffa might lose a few points in originality from it’s near cousin The American Sandwiches sandwich, both being ribeye based, I can assure you that the ‘Hoffa makes up for it with true-grit blue collar ethic and a strong backside.


4-6 Thinly Cut Ribeyes
4-6 Hoagie Rolls
1 Onion (Any variety, large.)
Bacon Grease
1 Bottle A1 Chicago Steakhouse Marinade
Mayonnaise (Brand Preference)
1 Bag Mozzarella Melt Cheese (Shredded)
1 Jar Pepper Relish (Hoagie Spread)

The Meat

The easiest way to get started with the Jimmy Hoffa is to have your butcher slice a few thin ribeye steaks off of the loin. Ask for them to be cut between ¼ and ½ inches, if you’re having meat cut at a grocery store and don’t know if the butcher knows what they are doing; it helps to ask them to try to make the fattier portion a bit thicker. This is because the fat on the ribeye shreds easily while you’re handling, and we do a good deal of that with this sandwich. (See below, I had the butcher cut one of these incorrectly for demonstration purposes. The steak should stay “mostly” together.)

The Fat

While you’re at the store, you need to pick up a jug of A1 Chicago Steakhouse Style Steak Marinade. This sauce was recommended to me by my butcher, who is a fantastic resource for cooking meat, as well as getting it cut. He used to own his own steakhouse until the economy took a turn. In any case, the sauce is made from roasted red pepper, peppercorn and of course the A1 standard sauce base. Fantastic stuff for grilling really.

The Sauce

Marinate the steak cuts in the sauce overnight at least. This requires plan-ahead for making the Jimmy Hoffa, but as I’m learning, you can leave the steak in the marinade for a couple of days and it is fine. This would allow you to make one-offs for four or five days that get progressively more flavorful. Put the marinade in the fridge.

The Bilge PumpNice and Cozy

When you’re ready to make your sandwiches, you’ll cut up your onion by slicing it in half through the core; and then laterally cutting to follow the grain (making wedges, not half-rings.)

The Garnish

For frying onions of any color; you’ll want to use bacon fat. This is such a crucial thing that I want to spend a little time talking about it. When we buy our bacon, we buy a pound package and we cook it all at once. Bacon is fabulous in salads and sweet breads, and of course all by itself on some bread with mayo so having it in the fridge is great. When you’re done cooking the pound of bacon, you simply strain the oil off into a used pickle jar (definitely use a glass jar) and place this in the fridge. After that you use it like butter to fry or sautee. It holds heat well; and you can also use it to season your cast iron pans.

The Base

Whenever I use bacon grease for frying; I use a heaping fork-full of it. Just enough to coat the pan, and for onions it really brings out the flavor’s we’re looking for.

A Heaping SpoonfulThe David Copperfield TrickCat Paws on Ginger

Cook the onions at medium to high heat until golden brown spots appear, then turn them down and go start up your grill. Prime your grill to around 500º (if you have a grill with a temperature gauge, if not most gas grills take around 7 minutes to reach temperature.) While you’re waiting, go ahead and split your rolls up, and get them ready for the broiler by coating each side with a thin layer of mayonnaise (or butter if you’re a wimp.)

The Medium

Turn your broiler on as well so that it’s ready to toast stuff.

The Substrate

Once you’ve reached the optimum thin steak grilling temp, throw the steaks on.

The Cooking

When you put the steaks on, you have about 3 minutes before you need to turn them. This is the perfect opportunity to put your rolls in the oven to broil.

The Broiling

After the steaks have been on for 3 minutes or so, turn them over and immediately apply your shredded cheese. I prefer the Mozzarella Melt cheese because it does melt more quickly than regular mozzarella, but there will no doubt be purists in the audience so it bears mentioning. DISCLAIMER: Better Mozzarella cheese (more expensive) tastes better.

When the steaks have been on for another 3-4 minutes, the cheese should melt up nicely for you. Melting the cheese completely isn’t a priority, but it does add a substantial value to the eating experience. Pull the steaks off the grill (I use tongs) and bring them to the table. Take the buns out of the oven and seat a steak per bun. Atop the steak, a garnish of onions; add some extra mayo if you like and the special ingredient that really brings it all home:

The Spice

I’ve been eating pepper relish since I was a little kid. My dad used to take a small tupperware of it to work with him every day no matter what kind of sandwich he had in his lunchbox. Cherry peppers have a bit of spice to them for sure, and vinegar is no joke either for clearing up your sinuses; but this relish is definitely not “superhot.” The better tasting pepper relish is usually the cheaper kind, because they don’t remove seeds or put any additional spices in it; just peppers and vinegar – seeds and all. Pictured here with two heaping fork-fulls of pepper relish, the plated Jimmy Hoffa (aka The Trade Unionist) sandwich.

The Out of Control


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