When a friend of mine moved to Rome, I was consumed with pasta envy: every day, he could get amazing Spaghetti Carbonara, Cacio e Pepe, Bucatini all' Amatriciana...what a life!
When I actually escaped to Rome and joined him for a meal, he set me straight. The true joy of living in Italy, he said, was the meat. "The meat here is so much better!" he said, and he was right. Simple meat dishes, made with intensely flavorful ingredients, were a highlight of many of our meals.
This quick Italian stir-fry is spin on a staple of Roman trattorias: "little rags" of beef (or veal) are flashed in a pan, then tossed with arugula just until the greens wilt. Though they may not be quite traditional in Rome, a handful of wild mushrooms adds earthy flavor and perfume; their juices, mixed with the meat, olive oil, and good balsamic make for a delicious sauce. Make this dish when you can't bear more than a few minutes standing by a stove, and serve it with hunks of bread to sop up the juices.
Consider it an Italian getaway, and be sure to follow it with a scoop of gelato or two.
1 pound steak, cut crosswise into thin slices (I used New York strip, but you could use skirt or sirloin as well. Ask your butcher to slice it crosswise as thinly as he can.)
2 cloves of garlic
4 rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms, preferably porcini, trumpet, or chantarelles
1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar, plus more for garnish
2 ounces baby arugula, washed well
Garnish: shaved parmesan (optional)
salt and pepper
Trim steak slices and pound until very thin. Cut into "tatters", about 1 inch by 2 inches. Salt well.
Smash and slice garlic. Slice shallot into thin ribbons and mince rosemary. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large cast iron skillet. Add garlic, rosemary, and shallot and cook over low heat until transparent. Add mushrooms and saute until cooked through, about five minutes, then remove to a bowl and set aside.
Turn heat up to medium and add additional tablespoon olive oil if needed. Add steak, spreading out the pieces so there's no overlap. Cook on medium heat, turning once, just until there's no visible red, about 3 minutes total. Return mushroom mixture to the pan, add balsamic vinegar, and toss to coat. Remove pan from heat. Add arugula, tossing to wilt slightly. Serve immediately, garnishing with salt, pepper, shaved parmesan, and additional balsamic vinegar if desired.
Pithy & Cleaver
(Images: Maggie Hoffman of Pithy & Cleaver)