18 hour Philly Sandwiches

Do you cook Sous Vide?  We have been experimenting and playing around cooking with sous vide equipment for years at the house and my restaurants.  While I certainly don’t consider myself to be an expert, I do enjoy cooking sous vide style a lot.  I think it can be very similar to “low and slow” BBQ, where you are using time and low temperatures to turn tough meat into delicious fare.  I’ve adjusted this recipe for 18 Hour Skirt Steak Philly Sandwiches over the years, and this is my favorite version.  It’s deliciously beefy, tender, and filled with amazing nuance from the steak and pepper mixture.

Items you’ll need to cook Sous Vide

Raw skirt steak, seasonings, Woo Woo and Garlic Blend

Sous Vide cooking places food in waterproof bags, then cooks the food in a water bath at a set temperature.  The most important part of this style of cooking is an immersion circulator.  This apparatus will heat the water to a precise temperature and hold it there for an extended period of time.  At The BBQ Allstars, we carry Zwilling Immersion Circulators and Vacuum Sealers (more on those in a bit.) After the immersion circulator, you can generally get by with resealable plastic bags and use the immersion method to force most of the air out.  This means placing what you will cook in a bag, then slowly sinking it in water to push the air out, then sealing.

The immersion method works great for shorter cook times, but for long cooks, I really prefer a vacuum sealer.  In vacuum sealers, there are two types- a chamber vacuum and and an external vacuum.  External vacuums are much cheaper, and use specially ridged bags to external draw the air out and then seal the bag.  They are great for most items, but won’t work on liquids, as they get sucked into the vacuum.  But, before investing in a chamber vacuum, use one of these to see if you’re really into this way of cooking.

Skirt steak after bagging

Chamber vacuums have another great feature, you can seal prepared items, then retherm by dropping in hot water.  Leftover chili, stew, or a sauce?  Package it up and freeze, and when you reheat it the chili will taste just cooked.

Making 18 hour Philly Sandwiches Tender

This is a really long cook time, but as all you’ll be doing is watching it for the most part, it will be really easy.  Skirt steak in general is a fairly tough piece of meat.  It’s delicious, but can be terrible if overcooked, or sliced with the grain.  Cooked medium rare and sliced properly, it’s amazing for fajitas, or as a beef dish with chimichurri.  For this recipe, I want an Uber-tender piece of meat.  I want a strong beefy essence, a zesty flavor, bite-through texture, and an amazing mouth-feel in every bite.  With this recipe, you’ll absolutely love your end result.

We aren’t just going for tender, we are going for OMG tender, but with a residual texture that lets you know you’re having real steak.  So, for this recipe, I’m going to cook it for 18 hours.  Yep, you heard that right, 18 hour skirt steak.  I set my immersion circulator for 127 degrees (in the rare temp zone.)  I seasoned the steak with my Garlic Blend, and added my Woo Woo Sauce and a liquid beef concentrate to the bag.  Seal, and let ‘er rip.  Or, let ‘er very slowly cook, more precisely.

Cooking Beef at Low Temps

Notice the medium rare appearance even after 18 hours of cooking

Ok for all you steak afficianados, the “red” stuff in rare steaks isn’t blood, it’s myoglobin.  I know that you won’t convince your grandmother to try a medium rare steak based on this fact, but at least you’ll know.  Myoglobin changes from bright red to brown as the temperature is raised.  By cooking the skirt steak at 127 degrees, we won’t alter the color of the myoglobin from that of a medium rare steak- but the tenderness will be out of this world good.

Finishing with a Sear

Sous vide cooking is perfect for a lot of things, but the appearance of items cooked sous vide is not one of them.  Plus, there is a very rich and delicious flavor that results from searing meat and vegetables.  Called the Maillard reaction, this occurs when meat or veggies are charred on a hot skillet, grill, or oven.  Sous vide afficianados achieve this by finishing their product with a quick sear in a cast-iron skillet, a hot grill, or by using a special blow torch.  This adds extra flavor and makes the appearance more palatable to our tastes, as we are used to browned meats.  For the Skirt Steak Philly Sandwich, I use a cast iron grill pan over a hot stove to quickly brown the steak without taking it up in internal temp too much.

After removing from the bag, lightly pat dry the skirt steak.  I give a light seasoning with my Grillin’ Shake before searing. Skirt steak is very thin, so I try to get my skillet very hot, use a very high temp oil, then quickly sear for 1-2 minutes each side, the less the better.

Putting the 18 Hour Philly Sandwich together


Sandwich with 18 hour skirt steak- the meat is amazingly tender

With sous vide, it’s super easy to prep ahead.  Want to get the skirt steak cooked ahead of the big game?  No problem- cook a few days ahead.  When it’s finished, immediately ice bath.  Store in the fridge (without opening the bag) for up to four days.  To reheat, simply set up the immersion circulator for 127, and drop in the bag for an hour. Want to prep more than 4 days out- simply label, date, and freeze. You can reheat directly from frozen, just add an extra hour to the reheat time.

So, while the steak is getting ready (about 20 minutes before I want to serve,) I sauté 1 cup each of onions and peppers in a 50/50 mix of olive oil and butter.  Season the vegetables with your favorite all-purpose seasoning- for this I used my Grillin’ Shake to give a different texture.  When they’re ready, set aside.  Heat a cast-iron skillet or grill pan to very hot.  Lightly coat with a light temp of high-heat oil, then quickly sear the skirt steak.  Remove skirt steak to a cutting board and slice into thin slices, against the grain.

only needs cheese for the perfect sandwich!

Place 2 slices of provolone on the bottom of a split hoagie bun, then top with skirt steak meat and a generous helping of peppers and onions.

As always, I hope you enjoy!

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Sous Vide Skirt Steak Philly Sandwiches


Make the most delicious, delectable Philly Sandwich ever by cooking Skirt Steak for 18 hours!  It’s easy by cooking sous vide, then finishing with a super hot, quick sear



1.5 lb outside skirt steak

2 TBS high temp oil such as grapeseed oil, divided

2 tsp Melissa’s Garlic Blend

1 TBS Melissa’s Woo Woo Sauce

1/2 TBS liquid beef base concentrate

1 green bell pepper, julienne sliced

1 medium yellow onion, julienne sliced

1/2 tsp Melissa’s Grillin’ Shake


Prepare an immersion circulator water bath to run at 127 degrees.  Cut skirt steak into roughly 5-6″ pieces.  Season with Garlic Blend.  Place in vacuum bag with beef concentrate and Woo Woo sauce.  Vacuum seal and place into water bath for 18 hours.

As you get ready to serve, sauté onions and peppers for 6-7 minutes, or until softened.  Add garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Set aside.

Heat a cast iron pan over medium high heat.  Remove skirt steak from bag and pat dry.  Lightly season with Grillin’ Shake, if desired.  Coat pan with high temp oil, then sear each piece of skirt steak, around 1-2 minutes per side.  Don’t crowd pan so you can keep the temp up and sear only until browning occurs.  Remove steaks and slice against the grain.

Open hoagie buns.  Toast if desired.  Place provolone cheese on bottom, then top with meat and sautéed pepper-onion mixture.  Serve.

May also be put on slider buns for snacks for a group of people.