This recipe is from the “Villa in Tuscany” chapter of our forthcoming book, The Fire Island Cookbook, in stores in April and available for pre-order at Barnes & Noble. It’s a collection of 14 original dinner-party menus, one for each weekend of the summer. This recipe is a simple, stylish favorite. We first encountered this classic Florentine dish when we rented a villa in Tuscany with friends and took turns cooking dinner. The villa had lemon trees, giant rosemary bushes and a large stone grill on the terrace, so the Bistecca was the natural choice when it was our night to cook. The dish in the cookbook is a part of a menu, including penne served with prosciutto and peas and shaved fennel salad, but this steak is so good that we eat it on its own.
For the bistecca:
2 porterhouse steaks, 3–3½ pounds each*
Salt and ground black pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 3 lemons
8 small sprigs fresh rosemary, for garnish
To cook the bistecca:
Preheat the grill to high (or glowing embers if using charcoal). Season both sides of the steaks with salt and pepper. Grill for 8–10 minutes on the first side, turn, and cook for another 8–10 minutes. Check for doneness: For medium rare, a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 135°F. Transfer to a large wooden cutting board and let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. When the meat has rested, cut both sides of the porterhouse—the filet and the sirloin—away from the bone, and then cut into ¼-inch-thick slices with a very sharp knife.
Place one portion of the steak on each plate (making sure each guest gets a fair share of sirloin and filet). Stir together the oil and lemon juice, and drizzle a small amount over each serving. Top each with a sprig of rosemary. Serves 8.
*When shopping for porterhouse steaks, make sure you have a good balance of filet and sirloin. The sirloin will be the longer, larger portion on one side of the bone, and the filet is the shorter, rounder piece on the other side. Don’t be embarrassed to ask the butcher to show you a few steaks in order to choose the best ones possible.
The rich flavors of cherry, raspberry, licorice and baking spices reign in Feudi di San Gregorio’s Taurasi. Taurasi wines, from Campania, Italy, are a great match for grilled steak. Or try a full-bodied Chianti like Carpineto’s Chianti Classico Riserva from Tuscany; it offers balanced, raspberry and vanilla flavors and rewards you with a velvety finish.
Try this additional Fire Island Cookbook (Atria/Emily Bestler Books, 2012) recipe:
Cinnamon Caramelized Gnocchi
DeSimone family lore has it that Mike’s great-grandmother, Vita Gennaro DeSimone, served this (or a version of it) at Christmas dinner during The Great Depression. Some accounts of the story have her using ravioli or tortellini, but ricotta was probably a bit of a stretch in a year that almost didn’t have dessert.
2 packages (1 pound each) fresh potato or semolina gnocchi
½ pound (2 sticks) butter
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 ounces white chocolate, coarsely grated
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, fill ½ to 2/3 with water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the gnocchi and cook according to the package’s directions. Gnocchi float when they are cooked through; with a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi and place on a plate.
Meanwhile, in a high-sided skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and add sugars, stirring constantly. When the sugars have melted, stir in the cinnamon. Next, add the gnocchi, stirring with a wooden spoon until well coated with the caramelized butter and sugar mix.
To serve, divide the hot gnocchi among 8 soup or pasta bowls, and top each with a small amount of white chocolate. Serves 8.
Wine Recommendation: Rosa Regale Sparkling Dolce Rosso, Acqui, Italy
Made from 100% Brachetto grapes, this sweet sparkling red tastes of berries tossed with rose petals and almond flowers.
From the forthcoming book The Fire Island Cookbook by Jeff Jenssen and Mike DeSimone. To be published by Emily Bestler Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Copyright © 2012 by The World Wine Guys, LLC. Printed by permission.