Red Wine-Braised Flank Steak with Roasted Peppers, Onions & Gruyere Panini

Back in April, as I whined about noted the 45 minutes it took me to slowly caramelize the onions for Tom Colicchio’s Gruyère with Caramelized Onions panini, I received my first clue that the man believes delicious food sometimes takes a good amount of time and patience to prepare. So it did not come as a real shock when his Red Wine-Braised Flank Steak with Roasted Peppers, Onions & Gruyere (…exhale…) sandwich recipe from his ‘wichcraft cookbook took nearly 4 hours.

Red Wine-Braised flank steak

I cannot begin to describe how intoxicating the house smelled all day long. The lean flank steak is seared on the stovetop and then braised in the oven for two-and-a-half hours in red wine, thyme, garlic and other aromatics. The result is succulent, flavorful meat with a pleasingly crisp exterior. It pairs rather well with the acidity of the grilled red onions and roasted red bell peppers. And, of course, Gruyère loves beef. Good things, indeed, come to those who wait.

The ‘wichcraft cookbook is full of these carefully crafted showstoppers. And while it may not be feasible to prepare them on a daily basis, it sure is a treat to indulge in them when you’re feeling like making something extra-special.

Red Wine-Braised Flank Steak with Roasted Peppers, Onions & Gruyère Panini

Adapted slightly from ‘wichcraft: Craft a Sandwich into a Meal – and a Meal into a Sandwich, by Tom Colicchio

Makes 4 sandwiches


3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 lb. flank steak
1 medium carrot, cut into large dice
1/2 white onion, cut into large dice
2 garlic cloves, quartered
2 to 3 cups red wine
2 large sprigs fresh thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 large red onion, sliced crosswise into 3/4-inch wheels
8 tablespoons roasted red peppers
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
4 ciabatta rolls
8 slices Gruyère cheese


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Choose a heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven that’s large enough for the flank steak to lie flat but is as snug as possible. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil to the skillet over high heat. Once the oil starts to smoke, add the meat (I highly recommend using tongs!) and cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, until deep brown in color. Remove the meat from the skillet and set the meat aside.

Add the carrot and onion to the skillet, followed by the garlic. Sauté the vegetables over medium-high heat until they start to brown but are still firm. Return the meat to the pan. Add the red wine – enough to come three-fourths of the way up the side of the meat. Add the thyme and 1 teaspoon of the salt, cover the skillet, and transfer to the oven. Braise the meat for about 2 1/2 hours, until the meat can be pulled apart with a fork. Transfer the meat to a plate to rest and cool.

Reserve and strain the pan juices and pour into a saucepan. Over medium-low heat, reduce the juices until thickened (it should coat the back of a spoon). With two forks, separate the meat into chunky strings and roughly cut them crosswise into 2- to 3-inch pieces. Place the meat in the pot with the reduced juices and coat well.

Preheat the panini grill to high heat.

Brush the red onion with the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Grill the onions (without separating into individual rings) for about 2 minutes until charred on the outside and slightly cooked on the inside. Place in a bowl and separate into rings. Add the peppers, olive oil, sherry vinegar and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and mix well.

Reduce the panini grill heat to medium-high.

For each sandwich: Slice a ciabatta roll in half. Place 1 slice of cheese on the bottom half. Add the meat, the onions and peppers and another slice of cheese. Close the sandwich with the top half of the roll. Grill the sandwich for 3 to 4 minutes until the cheese is melted.


KathyPanini Happy, online since 2008, is more than just a sandwich blog. Here, you'll find hundreds of my original panini recipes, my guide to choosing a panini press and a whole lot of other creative uses for the panini press.
~ Kathy Strahs
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  1. gilda wrote:

    Wow! It looks like it turned out as amazing as you described it! I love the gruyere part. Your pictures are incredible. Thank you for sharing this!
    .-= gilda´s last blog ..Restaurant Review: Aroma Bakery & Cafe – Hollywood, Los Angeles =-.

    Posted 9.2.09 Reply
  2. Emily wrote:

    4 hours! Oh dear God I hope it was as delicious as it looks!! Yeah, do that before the baby comes aye?!!!

    Looks fantastic and I’m sure it was worth the effort 🙂
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..WEEK 13: Pulled Pork BBQ Pizza (and the great American road trip) =-.

    Posted 9.2.09 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      Seriously – my days of marathon cooking endeavors may be numbered 🙂

      Posted 9.2.09 Reply
  3. Cookie wrote:

    This looks SO good! I can’t wait to have a weekend afternoon to dedicate to this. My honey LOVES paninis and will sure appreciate this one!
    .-= Cookie´s last blog ..Dinner from the Fridge =-.

    Posted 9.2.09 Reply
  4. That looks awesome!!
    .-= fittingbackin´s last blog ..My Blogiversary: My First Year of Fitting Back In + Progress Pics =-.

    Posted 9.2.09 Reply
  5. Debs wrote:

    I just love pannini, fab blog will have to try some of your recipes, thanks for sharing.
    .-= Debs´s last blog ..Chinese Style Fillet Steak =-.

    Posted 9.3.09 Reply
  6. Maris wrote:

    Oh your cooking days are not numbered. You’ll just wear that baby in a sling until big sister is old enough to babysit 🙂
    .-= Maris´s last blog ..Bread Baker’s Appentice Challenge (Week 11) Cranberry Walnut Celebration Bread =-.

    Posted 9.3.09 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      There’s an idea. I’ll go for back muscles of steel! LOL

      Posted 9.3.09 Reply
  7. John wrote:

    This looks awesome!
    .-= John´s last blog ..Adam =-.

    Posted 9.3.09 Reply
  8. Do-Ho wrote:

    You had me at red wine…
    .-= Do-Ho´s last blog ..Do Your Donuts Come in a Pink Box? =-.

    Posted 9.4.09 Reply
  9. Mindy wrote:

    Wow…4 hours??? You are a dedicated panini woman! It does look delicious, though. 🙂
    .-= Mindy´s last blog ..Gazpacho: A Perfect Summer Soup =-.

    Posted 9.6.09 Reply
  10. It sure looks delicious. Worth every hour I’m sure.
    .-= The Food Hunter´s last blog ..Cooking In Praiano Highlights =-.

    Posted 9.15.09 Reply
  11. This panini looks so amazing. It looks like it still hot off the grill and melting. Gorgeous pictures. Yum!
    .-= Melody @ Party Cupcake Ideas´s last blog ..Minnie Mouse Disney Cupcakes =-.

    Posted 9.27.09 Reply
  12. db wrote:

    I used this recipe and the meat turned out rather chewy…almost inedible. What am I doing wrong? Lid not tight enough? Not enough braising liquid?

    I was really looking forward to a succulent sandwich and ended up in a toothpick marathon.


    Posted 1.18.11 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      I’m really sorry to hear that. I can’t say for sure what went wrong but the times that I’ve experienced chewy meat have usually been due to the quality of the meat (if only we could always get prime like the restaurants!). This particular cut does tend to be tough which is why it’s often used in braising. Also if your piece was larger or smaller than the recipe called for that could affect the braising time. These are just a few possibilities that come to mind.

      Posted 1.18.11 Reply
  13. lisamarch wrote:

    I made this tonight. Wonderful!

    Posted 7.31.11 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      So glad to hear it!

      Posted 7.31.11 Reply
  14. Tracy wrote:

    This looks great! I’d like to try making this for a party. Have you ever done it a day in advance and served the next day? How does it hold up?

    Posted 10.4.11 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      I’m sure you could make the meat ahead of time – I definitely use leftover meat in panini often. I would wait until you’re ready to serve to actually assemble and grill.

      Posted 10.4.11 Reply