Recipe for Jim.... who a few weeks back had apparently trawled through my blog in the hope I had already posted the recipe.
I acquired this very simple dish during my time in Italy from my first flatmate Fabio. Fabio, being unusual for young Italian males had taken the decision to move out of his mothers house before the age of 30 and without a wife!?!. This filled my first few months in Italy with big dinners for all his (non English speaking) mates who did still live with their parents and late night visits to Bars, clubs and parties in the suburbs of Florence (not seen by the likes of tourists) as well as a firm grounding in Italian cookery, mostly provided from recipes handed down by Fabio's grandmother.
Fabio was a great cook, if not a little dogmatic in his views on all things edible... When cooking in our flat I was often asked 'che fai?! ('what are you doing') and then told 'non si fa cosi!' ('you don't do it like that')- meaning in fact 'in Italy one doesn't do it like that which is the way it was meant to be and should always be, everywhere, until the end of time'!! One of these rules in the kitchen was never to use onions And garlic in the same tomato sauce... this may vary from household to region but in our little flat it was a mortal sin to do such a thing.... never again will I try to make mum's spaghetti in tomato sauce for a Tuscan again. Humph.
Fabio also had a penchant for the classic Rum e Pera at the end of the night... A shot of bitter dark rum washed down with a smooth and creamy shot of pear juice... I challenge anyone not to enjoy such a rewarding combo (please drink responsibly!).
So to the recipe.... First I will write it as I was taught, then below I have made a few changes that I think improve the dish.... Sorry Fabio (and Fabio's grandma), it had to be done.
(Apologies for the lack of photo but I am looking through old albums for one and will add it when and I find one.)
4 Slices of good quality steak (Go for the most tender you can get your hands on. It takes very little cooking so you don't want any fatty chunks on the meat that would require rendering. Get the butcher to thinly slice it for you... fillet is obviously the best, sirloin also a fave of mine).
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 Jar of good quality Italian tomato passata
2 balls mozzarella, sliced
Cut the steak into two pieces, If the butcher has sliced it thinly for you you are good to go... if not place each piece of steak between two sheets of cling film and bash with a rolling pin until flat (like an american pancake) Fry the onion in a shallow pan with olive oil. Add the tomato and simmer for 20mins or so. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn up the heat on the sauce and lay the beef on top with a slice of mozzarella on top of each slice of beef. Cover with a lid/ piece of foil and cook for a minute only... just until the beef has lost its pink on the outside and the mozzarella has melted a little. Eat with crusty bread (Never pasta!!), a good Chianti and if you really want to piss off all Italians everywhere a side salad actually served at the same time as the meat??!???? Ha!
Now my changes....
Use 2 cloves of garlic INSTEAD of the onion (Fabio I will obey!)
Add a glass of red wine to the garlic and fiercely boil to burn off the alcohol before adding the tomatoes.
Add a pinch of oregano to the sauce.
Season the beef with a little salt and pepper before putting in the pan.
Sometimes I use the grill to melt the cheese and finish the beef..