Last night’s dinner was smokin’ — really, it was!


The smoke detector went off seconds after the floured onions hit the hot oil.

“What’s that?!?” my son shouted.

“Mom?!?” me daughter cried.

“Everything OK?” my husband asked.

Up to that point, I had things pretty much under control. The steak and onions were simmering on low — and they smelled terrific. I tossed a pinch of flour in the Dutch over of simmering oil. It sizzled, a sign it was ready.

The smoke that clouded my kitchen was the sign that the oil was too hot.

Now I know.

I tackled two recipes from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl cookbook last night: Marlboro Man’s Favorite Sandwich and Onion Strings. The sandwich was essentially a seasoned steak and onion sandwich on a toasted bun and the onion strings were just that — onion strings.

The sandwich was awesome! The perfect blend of spiced steak. soft buttery onions and toasted bread (I used French bread instead of a deli roll). The onion strings weren’t as good, but I blame that on the too hot oil. They cooked so fast, I burned about half of them. Those that didn’t burn had a trace of the burnt taste,but when you slathered them with ketchup, it’s all good.

I’ll make the sandwich again, but I think I’ll go with frozen onion rings the next time around.


Makes 4 sandwiches

  • 1 large onion or 2 small/medium onions     
  • Butter, lots of it     
  • 2 or 3 pounds of cube steak     
  • seasoned salt, preferably Lawry’s     
  • Lemon pepper     
  • Black pepper     
  • Worcestershire sauce     
  •  Tabasco     
  • 4 French or deli rolls

Slice the onions. Then melt 1/4 of a stick of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and light brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.

Cut the cube steak against the grain into 1-inch strips. Season the meat with a sprinkling of seasoned salt, lemon pepper and black pepper.

Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the same skillet in which you cooked the onions. Turn the heat to high. Let the butter begin to turn brown, about 2 minutes. You’ll want the skillet to be hot. Add enough meat to the skillet to form a single layer. Do not stir. Let it sit for about a minute, long enough for one side to turn brown. Flip the meat over and cook for another minute, then remove to a plate. Repeat until all the meat if cooked.

Return all the cooked meat to the skillet and add the onions. Pour in the Worcestershire sauce, several dashes of Tabasco, and an additional 2 tablespoons of butter. Simmer the mixture over low heat for about 5 minutes.

Cut each roll in half length-wise. Spread generously with butter, then brown on a griddle or skillet.

Place the rolls face up on a plate, then place the meat mixture on the bottom half. Spoon 2 or 3 tablespoons of the pan juice over the top and enjoy!


  • 1 large onion     
  • 2 cups buttermilk     
  •  2 cups all-purpose flour     
  • 1 tablespoon salt     
  • Plenty of black pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper     
  • Canola oil for frying

Cut the onion into thin slices. Separate the onions and place them in a shallow dish. Pour the buttermilk on top, making sure all onions are covered. The onions must stay submerged for one hour. Leave them on the counter during this process.

When an hour is almost over, mix the flour and seasonings together in the wide bowl. Por 1 to 2 quarts of canola oil into a pot or Dutch oven. Heat the oil to 375 degrees or until a pinch of flour sizzles when sprinkled over the pan.

Using tongs, remove a handful of onions from the buttermilk and immediately duck into the flour mixture. Coat the onions completely, then tap them on the inside of the bowl to remove excess flour.

Plunge the onions into the hot oil. (You might want to have windows open and fans going in case of possible smoke penetrating all areas of your kitchen.) With a spoon, break the onions apart. They’ll be ready to remove from the oil quickly, so don’t let yourself be distracted. (This means it is your husband’s job to turn off the smoke detector.)  

When the onions are golden brown, which takes less than a minute, remove them from the oil and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Cook remaining onions the same way.

Mmm dinner. It was so worth the drama of the evening.


One response

  1. Pingback: Let me see your casserole « What's Cooking?

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