Steak at Ristorante Tasso, Sorrento, Italy
One of the key elements of the classic American steakhouse is girth. We love big steaks, and steakhouses know how to cook 'em: charred on the outside, and medium rare inside. I'm certainly of the opinion that a steak needs a good "char" on the outside, which adds to the flavor and texture of the meat. A thick cut of meat and 1800 degree broilers help to make that char possible while still keeping the inside at a medium rare temp. That's the steakhouse approach, and one to which I fully subscribe.
But on occasion I've had steak that doesn't fit into that paradigm: steaks with little to no char, and much thinner than 2 inches thick. And they were phenomenal. We had a steak in Sorrento (pictured above) a while back that fell into this non-American steakhouse category. And it was wonderful. The Italians know a bit about food, and a bit about steak as well.
Inspired by that steak, I went off to the Market Basket in Franklin Lakes,
NJ, and figured I'd get a nice thin strip to duplicate the experience. Well they just don't have them cut thin (they'd do it if you ask, I suppose). But not wanting to ask for a special cut, and feeling a bit defeated, I grabbed a couple of 1.5/1.75 inch thick strips, figuring I'd fall back on what I know best: high heat, char, etc.
But I couldn't get that steak from Sorrento out of my head. I was determined to taste those flavors: beef, salt, pepper, olive oil, maybe a squirt of lemon to brighten everything up. So I did what anyone with a knife can do: I cut the steak in half, making four thin strip steaks. Like magic, I had perfectly thin steaks.
On the grill they went. Just a bunch of salt. I'm starting to pepper after cooking, rather than before. I guess I'm not convinced that high heat doesn't turn pepper's flavor into something not quite as pleasant as raw pepper.
The steak came off the grill a bit more charred than I had even hoped for, but still not nearly as much as it would have been if it were 2 inches thick. Finished with some EVOO and a light squeeze of lemon.
Served with green beans (blanched, shocked, sauteed with olive oil, s/p, garlic and a squirt of lemon to finish) and olive oil poached potatoes
, which I stole from Oceanos in Fair Lawn
(low heat, olive oil, a piece of lemon, and potatoes).
It wasn't Sorrento, but it was a nice change from the norm. And quite frankly, 1 piece of 8 ounce steak was pretty much the perfect amount of protein. But truth be told, I did eat 2 pieces.
If you've been trying in vain to duplicate those steakhouse steaks, why not switch it up a bit. You might be very pleased with the results (and you'll save money as well).
Ristorante Tasso : Via Correale, 11 : 80067 Sorrento (Campania), Italy : +39 081 8785809