THE 10 SECRETS TO THE ULTIMATE TUSCAN STEAK
1. Let It Warm Up
Take the steak out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature about an hour before you cook it. Skip this step and the outcome will disappoint. The outside will be charred and the inside will be mostly gray meat with a little nugget of red in the middle.
2. Consider the Thickness
One-and-a-half to two inches is not some arbitrary measurement when it comes to hefty cuts like rib eye or New York strip. Rather, this thickness ensures that your steak will achieve the perfect char on the outside just as the interior reaches the ideal temperature.
3. Salt, Salt, and Salt Again
A few hours before you grill, lightly sprinkle both sides of the steak with salt; put it on a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet. The salt helps the cells retain water, guaranteeing juicy meat. Before placing it on the grill, pat dry with paper towels, and generously salt the meat again. (Use kosher salt; the bigger grains make for a superior crust.) Finally, pass some fleur de sel at the table to sprinkle over the sliced steak for more flavor.
4. Crack Your Own Pepper
Pepper not only adds an element of spice to steak, it also adds crunch. You want a combination of fine, medium, and big pieces. To achieve this, pour whole peppercorns in a resealable plastic bag and crush them with a heavy skillet.
5. Build a Two-Zone Fire
You want a hot side to sear the meat and a not-so-hot side to finish the cooking. If you’ve got a gas grill, that’s easy: Keep one burner on low while the others go full blast. If you’re cooking over coals, use your tongs to build a ramp of embers climbing up to one side of the grill to create high-low control.
6. Feel the Heat
How do you know when the coals are ready? Once the flames have died down and the coals are glowing orange, use the 2-2 rule: Put your hand two inches above the hottest part of the coals. If you can hold it there for two seconds–no more, no less–you’re good to grill.
7. Control Flare Ups
Dripping fat + hot coals = scorched, carcinogenic steak. Don’t use a spritz bottle of water to douse the flames; you’ll kick up ash. And putting the lid on the grill won’t smother the fire fast enough. To get that rib eye out of harm’s way, gently slide it to a flare-free area with tongs until the fire subsides. (If you throw the meat around, you’ll shake out more fat and start another fire.)
8. Use Real Charcoal
Hardwood lump charcoal burns hotter and faster than manufactured briquettes. It doesn’t matter if you use oak or mesquite, as long as it looks like it came from a tree and not construction scraps. You want your steak to taste faintly of smoke, not chemicals.
9. End the Guessing
A temperature of 125 degrees means medium-rare. Instant-read thermometers guarantee you’ll get it right.
10. Let the Meat Rest
Ten minutes of calm does wonders for a steak–no foil tent needed. Fibers relax. Juices spread. Colors are recalibrated and flavors retained. Think of it as a disco nap for protein. Remember: Patience is a virtue. You’ve come this far; do not squander porterhouse perfection.
Grilled Steak with Arugula and Parmesan Cheese
(Bistecca ai Ferri con Rucola e Parmigiano)
Bistecca ai ferri (beefsteak grilled over the fire) is sometimees called bistecca alla fiorentina; it is the signature dish of Florence, but the people of Cortona, in eastern Tuscany, also claim it as theirs. No matter where it's from, grilled steak is perhaps the most classic and luxurious Tuscan beef dish. Any succulent, thick-cut steak will do, although Tuscan chefs prefer porterhouse or T-bone, especially from their local Chianina cows. The meat is coated in oil and garlic, then grilled and served on a bed of arugula with lemon wedges and shaved Parmesan. Use only genuine Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; a vegetable peeler makes it easy to shave thin, curling strips.
• 3 large garlic cloves
• 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 2 1 1/2-pound porterhouse steaks (each about 1 1/2 inches thick)
• 6 cups loosely packed arugula (about 4 ounces)
• 1 2-ounce piece Parmesan cheese
• Lemon wedges
Blend garlic, 2 teaspoons oil and black pepper in small food processor (or mash on plate with back of fork) to form paste. Pat steaks dry with paper towels. Rub garlic paste over both sides of steaks. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 8 hours. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill steaks to desired doneness, about 9 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to cutting board. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut steaks on slight angle into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
Arrange arugula on platter. Top with steak slices. Pour any accumulated juices over steaks; sprinkle with salt. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil over steaks. Using vegetable peeler, shave Parmesan into strips over steaks. Serve with lemon wedges.