This recipe is from Pure Beef: An Essential Guide to Artisan Meat with Recipes for Every Cut (Running Press Book Publishers, 2012). Read an interview with the author here.
A grilled steak adorned with a crunchy and shredded vegetable salad is one of my ultimate no-fuss summer meals. Toss sweet fennel and bitter radicchio with a lemony anchovy dressing while the steaks rest. Fold slices of steak and the relish into grilled flatbread, and you create piadina, an Italian-inspired grilled flatbread sandwich. Prepare the olive oil flatbreads (recipe follows) or use store-bought.
Makes six servings.
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/8 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup walnut oil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 fennel bulb
1 head radicchio or small romaine, finely sliced into ribbons
2 T-bone steaks (about 2 pounds), 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces
2 ounces ricotta salata or feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
6 flatbreads, either olive oil flatbreads (recipe follows) or store bought, optional
Put the onion in a small bowl, cover with cool water, and let it soak for five minutes to mellow its bite. Drain it well, put it into a large mixing bowl, and set it aside.
Make the dressing by whisking the anchovy paste, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt with the walnut oil and olive oil. Set it aside to let the flavors develop.
Trim the fronds from the fennel stems. Chop 1/2 cup of the fronds for the salad and save the rest for another use or discard them. Trim the stems from the fennel bulb, cut it in half, core it, and slice it as thin as you can using a sharp chef’s knife or a mandoline. Toss the chopped fennel fronds and fennel bulb into the bowl with the onion. Add the radicchio or romaine and toss well. Keep the salad chilled while you grill the steaks.
Pat the steaks dry, season them liberally with the kosher salt, and let them sit at room temperature while you prepare a charcoal or gas grill for high heat (425 to 475 degrees F), scrape the grate clean, and oil it lightly. Grill the steaks for 3.5 to four minutes per side for medium rare. (To cook the steaks further, slide them to the coolest part of the grill and close the cover, then cook them for one to four minutes more.) Let the steaks rest 10 minutes while you finish the relish and grill the flatbreads as directed, if using.
Toss the fennel mixture with just enough of the reserved dressing to coat it lightly. Add the walnuts and cheese and toss again. Taste it for salt and lemon juice. To serve the steaks, slice them perpendicular to the bone 1/4 inch thick. Alternatively, cut out the bone, toss it to your dog, and slice each meat section separately, trimming excess fat, if you like. Put three to four slices of steak on each plate along with the relish and any reserved dressing to drizzle directly onto the steaks. Serve with the flatbreads, if desired, to make piadina.
More choice cuts:
Rib steak is another premium grilling steak, called rib-eye when boneless.
Strip loin steak, from the same tender mid-section as the T-bone (or Porterhouse), is a narrower steak with meat on only one side of the bone.
Olive oil flatbreads
This quick, tender, easy-to-handle dough is the one I use to make flatbreads for grilled Italian steak sandwiches called piadina and snappy breadsticks for soup. It spins together in short order in a food processor and can also be mixed and kneaded in a stand mixer. It is a very sticky dough that bakes into crispy breads. After it rises for 45 minutes, you can shape it into the form you like and bake it — or try your hand at grilling flatbreads to make piadina, a great party trick.
Makes eight round, 7-inch-wide flatbreads.
3 1/2 cups (15 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups warm water (75 to 80 degrees)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional if baking
To make the dough in a food processor, put the flour, yeast, and salt in the processor bowl fitted with the plastic dough blade. Attach the cover and turn it on for five seconds. Put the water and oil in a measuring cup and pour it through the feed tube with the machine running. A ball of dough will form and slap around the bowl. Let the dough spin around 10 times to knead it before stopping the machine. The dough will feel warm, soft, and tacky. Collect any bits of dough from around the bowl and attach them to the ball. Replace the cover on the food processor bowl, slip in the feed tube pusher and let the dough rise for 45 minutes to one hour. It will look pillowy, nearly doubling in volume.
To make the dough in a stand mixer, combine the flour, yeast, and salt in the mixing bowl and stir to blend with a rubber spatula. Add the water and olive oil and stir to make a rough dough. Attach the dough hook and knead the dough on medium speed until it is so elastic that strands of dough pull away from the sides of the bowl, seven to eight minutes. Scrape down the dough, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 45 minutes to one hour. It will look pillowy, nearly doubling in volume.
To shape the flatbreads, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop. Use a bench knife or chef’s knife to cut it into eight pieces and flour your hands. Working with each piece of dough, use a rolling pin or your hands to pat and stretch it into rounds roughly 7 inches wide and 1/8 inch thick. The rustic shape is part of its charm, so don’t worry about making them perfect. Dust them with flour and stack them between with layers of parchment or waxed paper. Let them rest and rise slightly while the oven or grill preheats.
To bake the flatbreads, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly oil two baking sheets and put two of the flatbreads onto each one, spaced 2 inches apart. Bake until they bubble, crisp, and brown in spots, seven to eight minutes. Repeat with the remaining flatbreads and serve them warm.
To grill the flatbreads, thoroughly scrape and oil the grate of a preheated hot grill to keep the breads from sticking. Lay the flatbreads two at a time onto the hottest part of the grill and cook until they get grill marks on the bottom, then use tongs to flip them and grill until they are puffed and lightly charred, two to 2.5 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining flatbreads and serve warm.