I’ve been after some Italian comfort food lately. The weather is turning a bit blustery, there’s a definite chill in the air and the tomatoes are all but done. It’s time to turn in the garden and maybe start to pack up the barbeque (though I’ve seen my neighbours grill in a snow storm). So we decided to have our last steak on the barbeque one night and, lucky for us, the skies opened up and the backyard turned into a small pond.
With the rain pouring down, we opted for a new version of steak. Often when I want to cook up something comforting and familiar, but new to me, I turn to Lidia Bastianich. Her recipes remind me of my own family’s favourites and she always throws in something new to me for good measure. So to cook up my steaks, I cracked open her new book Lidia’s Favorite Recipes and found pan-seared steak pizzaiola. See Lidia always has a solution, and to boot, it meant we could yell Tutti a tavola a mangiare! until it was ready to serve up. To say the phrase properly, it’s best you do it while holding a glass of wine and you’ve really got to hit that last syllable there to hammer it home. We’ve been practising.
The steak turned out fantastic – as Lidia intends, the flavours remind you of pizza. I used jarred tomatoes from our garden, rather than canned. Keep bread handy to sop up the extra sauce after the steak is long gone.
Pan-Seared Steak Pizzaiola
(Reprinted with permission from Lidia’s Favorite Recipes, Lidia Bastianich)
3 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded, cut into 1- inch strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and seeded, cut into 1- inch strips
2 cups sliced white button mushrooms
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon dried oregano
One 14- ounce can Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), crushed by hand
Four 8- ounce bone- in shell steaks, about 1 inch thick
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium- high heat. When the oil is hot, add the sliced garlic. Let the garlic sizzle a minute, then toss in the bell peppers and mushrooms. Season with 1 teaspoon of the salt and the oregano. Sauté until the mushrooms and peppers are caramelized on the edges, about 5 minutes.
Pour in the tomatoes, and slosh out the can with ½ cup hot water, adding that to the skillet as well. Bring to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened and the peppers break down, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Season the steaks with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Sear the steaks in a large cast- iron skillet over high heat until done to your liking, about 2 minutes per side for rare. Let the steaks rest for a few minutes while the sauce finishes cooking.
To serve, put the steaks on plates and top with the pepper sauce. Serve immediately.
I love new ways to dish up old classics and Lidia does this every time. Lidia’s brand-new cookbook: Lidia’s Favourite Recipes is available starting sale October 16th. If you try out a recipe, let me know how it goes!