Only Italians (and particularly Tuscans) understand how excellent their tradition of steak cookery is. Here’s a distinctly Italian approach to steak that also has a touch of the South (of Italy). It reveals a second secret: how well steak goes with tomato sauces, especially those on the spicy side.
- 4 strip sirloin steaks, 12-14 oz. each
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil (not extra-virgin) or 6 Tbs. butter
- 4 large cloves garlic, sliced thin (not chopped)
- 1 Tbs. chopped onion
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1 28-oz. can Italian plum tomatoes, plus 1 cup of juice from can
- 6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves only, chopped
1. Trim the steaks of any gristle or excess fat–if you like. (Steaks taste better if you leave all that on during the cooking, and cut it off as you eat.) Season the steaks more generously than your instincts tell you with salt and pepper. Pound the steaks on a cutting board with your fist to flatten them a little.
2. Heat about the olive oil or butter in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, until the oil is simmering or the butter bubbling. Add the steaks and sear for about two minutes on each side. (They’re ready to turn when, after they stick to the pan at first, they break loose somewhat.)
3. Lower the heat a little and add the garlic and onion. Cook those with the steaks until they brown. Remove steaks to a pan in the 250-degree oven.
4. Lower the heat under the skillet to medium-low. Add the red wine, crushed red pepper, tomatoes, and tomato juice, and bring to a light boil. Simmer for five minutes, then add the parsley and oregano. Add salt and red or black pepper to taste if necessary. (Be conservative, because the steaks are salted too.)
5. Remove the steaks from the oven and spoon the sauce over each one.