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Steak: a nice change in approach

IMG_0083Steak 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

The Market Basket : 813 Franklin Lake Rd : Franklin Lakes, NJ : 201.891.2000