Grill this and dream of Italy. And fall in love with your grill pan all over again.

We love Italy. We love to grill. We don’t love cleaning up.

If you get the impression (and maybe you don’t) that I’m a super chef and super mom and all around clever woman, you’re close. I love cooking and conceiving new recipes. I love my kids in all the best ways (read: I can set a curfew like the best of ‘em). But cooks and caregivers spend a lot of time cleaning. I’m not super-happy to do that, usually. (Unless my favorite neighbor stops by, plays a song on my piano, and picks up a towel to dry dishes).

I hate to clean. My friend here, on the other hand, lives for it. To each her own. (Photo copyright (c) by Tiffany Terri under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.)

This is why I think the best description of me is the all around clever woman.

You see … I’ve got EuroCAST grill pans. And the company just lowered our pricing for them. And it’s Spring. So: I can cook Italian-inspired food, deliver it hot to my kiddos, and just not worry about the clean-up.

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Marinated grilled skirt steak

This menu is three dishes, two of which rely on the amazing 11” EuroCAST grill pan. It’s a go-to pan in my home. The company just reduced the price (see notice at the bottom of this menu to get yours.)

Grilling meat in Italy is often how residents from Rome to Milan spend an afternoon. The beef and game in the upper part of Italy are famous worldwide, and amply consumed everywhere, from the smallest villa to the biggest city.

Italians all over the peninsula marinate their meat, or pour sauces over them, usually built from olive oil, herbs, and acids. My marinade for this skirt steak turns out is a lot like the Sicilian salmoriglio, but this one’s my own. (Having lived and cooked in Italy, maybe I absorbed their tricks unconsciously.)

The radicchio side is probably more typical of mid- to Northern Italy. Venice has some of the sexiest radicchios you can find (the so-called Treviso radicchio). I found an amazing radicchio at my local market that is rounder, and perfect for this dish.

And now, with you all dreamy about Northern Italy, Rome, and Sicily, let’s get to the steak.

For this dish, I used a skirt steak. Hanger steak could work as well.

MARINADE

Put into your food processor the following:

  • 4 cloves of garlic (or if you have some garlic confit on hand, some of that)

  • 1 T of fresh marjoram leaves

  • 2 shallots 

  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 T salt

  • Healthy pinch of black pepper

  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

  • Peel only of 1/2 lemon

  • Salt and pepper

Whiz that around for a few moments until everything is roughly incorporated.

Then add in a slow drizzle while processing:

  • 1.5 cup olive oil  

  • Juice of the lemon

You may be tempted to put the whole lemon in the first step, instead of doing the peel in the first step and the lemon juice in the second step. Resist that temptation. Do it like I recommend. #statesecrets #thisishowitsdone #trustme

This gives you a wet marinade with a full, slippery body — perfect for adhering to the steak while you marinate it.

Pro tip: Use only half (or so) to marinade the steak. Reserve the rest to drizzle on it right before serving. It layers the flavor and restores a high note of herbaceous acidity that’ll thrill you.

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If you’re not going to eat the steak the same day, put it and (half of) the marinade in a zip-lock bag. Remove excess air before sealing to make sure the steak is well-covered by the marinade, and store in your refrigerator. The day you’re going to cook it (should be within 30 hours or so), remove the bag from the refrigerator and let the steak come to room temperature (that should take about an hour).

If on the other hand you plan to eat the steak the same day, just slather (half of) the marinade over the steak and let it rest on a platter on the counter.

Now:

  1. Heat your EuroCAST grill pan to high heat.

  2. Place the room-temperature steak onto the pan. Don’t move it. Let it sizzle there for 3-4 minutes.

  3. Turn it over, cooking again for 3-4 minutes. Leave it alone.

  4. This amount of time may result in your desired doneness. Check by pressing the meat with the finger (see online on how to interpret the “give” that the steak has depending on how much it has cooked), or do a quick slice to check.

  5. Remove right before the steak is where you want it, and let it rest on a plate. It will continue to cook even while resting, and the juices will be retained.

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With a very sharp knife, slice against the grain when ready to serve.

To serve:

  1. Spoon some of the reserved marinade over each steak.

  2. Finish with a lovely garnish of lemon zest. I used a zester that creates those pretty little ribbons.

  3. Serve on its own plate, Italian-style.

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Grilled radicchio with sliced apples and beets

Some people think that the Italian word contorno should be translated as side dish, which Americans have a very specific image of — like mashed potatoes or green beans on the plate next to the main protein.

But think of how Italians actually eat. They do many of their dishes, from first plates to pastas to second plates, with one single preparation on a single plate. This elevates each offering. If you get just green beans on a single plate, like you might in Italy, you’re going to pay special attention to it. (And it’s gonna be good.)

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So if you put green beans — or any dish — on a single plate, it raises the stakes for you, too, right?

So, with my grilled radicchio salad “on the side” of the grilled skirt steak, the pressure’s on.

See if you think it stands up on its own, and also does what a good side should do: Contrasts and complements the other wonderful things on the table.

Tricks I’m using: Ingredients that “grow together” usually “go together”. So the radicchio and beets (bietole in Italian) capture both the bitter and sweet of the best Italian vegetables. I use goats’ cheese rolled in thyme leaves to add herby and creamy elements. When it comes to cheese, you’ll absolutely find goats’ cheeses galore (and cows/goats’ milk cheese hybrids) from Northern to Central Italy. And thyme (in Italian, timo) has been called one of Italy’s three most important herbs, along with mint and oregano. (If you ever travel to Italy, check on the thyme varieties. They are crazy different from each other.)

The salad

Get the beets going first. Then do the radicchio. Then the apples. As follows!

  1. Peel beets.

  2. Cut the beets into quarters.

  3. Roast the beet quarters in a parchment-lined EuroCAST skillet (handle removed!) in the oven at 400F for 45 minutes or so, until they are fork tender, about 45 minutes.

  4. Remove beets from oven. Top with a handful of chopped chives, and drizzle them with more lemon juice or olive oil, or both, to taste.

  5. Choose the best radicchio at the market.

  6. Cut radicchio into quarters. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  7. On a hot EuroCAST grill pan, place the cut side down. Shift after a few minutes to another cut side. Keep rotating the quarters until all the cut sides have had ample time on the grill to develop a darker, “eggplant” color. This means the surface sugars in the radicchio have gotten a bit sweeter.

  8. Remove from the heat and let it rest. It will continue to cook and to soften while resting.

  9. When the radicchio is cool enough to touch, give it all a rough chop to create bite-sized pieces.

  10. Slice thinly two cored, tart green apples, such as Granny Smiths and squeeze lemon juice over the slides. This keeps them from browning and introduces an acidity to balance the slight bitter flavor of the radicchio. (Balanced flavors often don’t “average out to nothing” — they enhance each other.)

Garnishes I highly recommend: Toast up some walnuts. And do this fancy little thing with goats cheese.

  • Roll 6 ounces of goats’ cheese into little balls, incorporating about 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme (or marjoram) leaves, some black pepper, and a few Aleppo flakes.

  • Place these balls of herby, spicy, creamy goodness around the salad platter. It takes a while, but, frankly, this little touch is unforgettable.

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I love Italy. And, as the song goes, I love New York.

I love Italy. And, as the song goes, I love New York.

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Bringing it “together”

In the photo below, I’ve posed the steak, sliced and drizzled with the reserved marinade, next to the grilled radicchio. And scroll on down for the cannellini bean salad.

When you serve these to friends and family, though, have them each on separate plates. It’s an Italian thing — but don’t do it for that reason. Do it because separate plates give each dish room to show off.

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Cannellini bean salad

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Starting with best quality canned cannellini beans, you are building a salad with a bit of magic from the reduced balsamic vinegar, onions, garlic confit, and red pepper flakes. Make this salad first so that you can let it sit at room temperature in all those yummy oils and herbs to blend.

And if you time it right, when everything is ready to head out to the table, you'll have a moment for one last taste. Or two. Or three. You know how that works. 

Ingredients

  • 2 cans drained white beans in a medium bowl

  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced

  • 1/4 cup finely diced flat leaf parsley

  • 6-8 cloves of the garlic confit and 7 T. of the garlic oil

  • Salt and pepper

  • Pinch of red pepper flakes 

Procedure

  1. Take half of the thinly sliced red onion slices, dice them, and add to beans. 

  2. Sauté the other red onion slices in 2T olive oil until they begin to soften.

  3. Add 1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar.

  4. Cook over medium-low heat until the balsamic vinegar has been almost reduced by half.

  5. Remove the pan from heat and add its contents to beans.

  6. Add garlic cloves, parsley, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

  7. Stir gently to combine.

Taste. Adjust seasoning.

And ... Set aside. That last part is important -- in setting this bean salad aside, the flavors blend beautifully. And by setting it aside, I am saving you from sampling too much of this obsession-inducing dish. It's embarrassing to bring an empty serving dish to the table. 


Paul WardComment