When I was sent some amazing aged Grana Padano I knew without question exactly what I was going to do with it.
Two years ago we had the most amazing experience, spending a month in a motorhome exploring Italy. In the very best way that happens when you travel, it was a month of assaults on our senses as we experienced as much as we could of the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Italian regions we passed through.
But through all of the memories, a few special tastes stand out. Giolittis ice cream in the rain in Rome. Pizza slices on the street in Pisa. Boy’s volcano pizza in Pompeii (an entire ball of the astonishing local buffalo mozzarella in the centre, simply draped with amazingly good prosciutto). But for Mr LittleStuff there was one standout meal; we were staying on the coast near Salerno on what at first glance had not been a great choice of campsite. We’d had a long hot day exploring the ruins of Paestum, returned to the site for a swim in the sea as the sun went down, and decided we’d just go try the site restaurant rather than cooking this evening. It didn’t look up to much but, but hey – anything was better than cooking ourselves.
He didn’t fancy either pizza or pasta again (I know, unbelievable. In our defence he was the only one of all six of us who ever tired of it), so using the handy phrase book to translate ingredients he ordered ‘Tagliata di carne con rucola e grana padano’.
I know, me either.
But that’s actually ‘thinly sliced beef with rocket and grana padano’.
When it came out he eyed it a little dubiously – it was just a plate of rocket leaves with some wafer thin steak and hard cheese shavings on it, with a little black dressing. But he was tired and hungry and just took a bite – and he literally stopped and shut his eyes and quietly sighed a moan of happiness. He ate the meal sooo sloooowly. And the following evening we ate there again, just so he could re-order it and savour it a second time.
Once we were home I scoured the Italian recipe sites, and finally pieced together from a few recipes how to make it – and it’s now a firm favourite. So quick and easy, and SO delicious. The richness of the meat with the sharp creamy sweetness of the cheese and oh that glaze…
There are just a handful of ingredients – but each one is a stand out flavour so be sure to get the best you can of each. And then it’s simply all in the way you cook the steak.
Steak with rocket, grana padano and balsamic glaze
From Prep to Serve – 12 minutes
What you need:
- Two Steaks – I’m no expert, so I simply get the best my budget will allow. Rump, ribeye and sirloin have all been good in this, but the better the meat the better the flavour and this is such a simple dish you really need those flavours coming through.
- Rocket – one bag between two.
- Grana Padano – other cheese might work, but for me it’s the creamy sharpness of Grana Padano all the way.
- Balsamic Glaze – you can just buy a bottle in supermarkets, but if you have some good balsamic vinegar in the cupboard, then make your own and keep it in the fridge. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Also oil and a timer. The timer is crucial – don’t ‘guesstimate’ this one.
What you do:
- Start heating a frying pan – choose one close to the size of your steaks. If it’s too small, the meat will sit in too much juice, but if it’s too big the juices can burn easily.
- Heat the oven to 180 ° C.
- Drizzle the warm pan with a little oil and then once the frying pan is hot (sprinkle a few drops of water into the pan – it’s ready when the water droplets evaporate instantly), add the steak and brown it for 2 minutes each side. Time it!
NB – Make sure you don’t puncture the flesh when you’re turning the meat – use latex tongs or a spatula.
- Remove the steak from the pan and place on a chopping board
- Immediately slice the beef into thin slices – it will be brown on the surface, but still red and bloody in the centre. The thinner and more even your strips, the better. Arrange them in a baking dish, trying not to overlap.
- Bake in the oven for 3-6 minutes, according to how you like your beef – if you like it rare, make it 2 minutes, and leave it for the full 6 minutes if you like it well done. We find 4 minutes is a good medium for us.
- While it’s baking, split the rocket between two plates. No need to do anything with it, just make a bed of leaves.
- Remove the meat from the oven and immediately place the slices randomly over the rocket leaves (you can grind a little salt over the beef at this stage if you wish; I don’t, Mr LittleStuff does).
- Shave the cheese over the steak, and then drizzle with balsamic glaze.
- Enjoy immediately with a glass of something red.