Bistecca alla Pizzaiola with Mozzarella
Today we are making a really fun, tasty and easy dish that we adapted from a vintage 1950s Canadian cookbook that had a variety of "international" recipes of varying authenticity. Called "Recipes From Many Lands" it was put out by the Westfair grocery store chain and included a recipe for Bistecca alla Pizzaiola.
Bistecca alla Pizzaiola is a dish that is from the Naples area in Italy. Like the more traditional dish their recipe results in steak that has a pizza-style flavour though unlike tradition this recipe had the steak being baked rather than braised as well as covered with cheese. It also uses more inexpensive cuts such as sirloin tip or chuck steak.
While perhaps not traditional, with some modifications we made to kick it up a bit, this version of the dish is really quite delicious.
To make it, first arrange your steaks in a single layer on a shallow baking pan. You want to try to get steaks that are around an inch thick. As stated above, sirloin tip or other less expensive cuts are what you want to use. (Sometimes these cuts are sold as "simmering steak").
We made three steaks with the measurements listed here.
Season the steaks with the following:
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
3 minced cloves of garlic
salt to taste
liberally with black pepper
Once the steaks have been seasoned pour a large can of tomato sauce over them (around 700 ml). If you can use one that is seasoned with basil that works even better. I used President's Choice Tomatoes First Tomato Sauce with Basil.
After you have covered the steaks evenly with the sauce, drizzle about 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil evenly over it. Then sprinkle it with some chopped fresh basil. Finally, add one minced small red hot chili pepper or sprinkle to taste with red chili pepper flakes. While this last step is optional, I strongly recommend it.
Put the steaks into an oven preheated to 350 degrees and bake them for 1 1/2 hours.
After the time is up remove from the oven but keep the oven hot. Top each steak with as much grated mozzarella cheese as you want and reason allows! You can also, as an option, top the steaks with things like chopped green or black olives (or both), sliced mushrooms, green pepper, etc. Be sure to put the cheese on last though.
Put the pan back in the oven and bake for around another 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and browned to your liking.
Serve each steak covered in the sauce, any toppings and the melted cheese. The beef should be very tender and the classic pizza flavours will shine through.
Goes great with garlic bread, a Caesar salad and some red wine.
You can also use this recipe, though you will have to modify the cooking, to make with veal chops or chicken breast.
(This recipe originally appeared on The Left Chapter blog in September, 2017)