Sunday, April 3, 2016

Bistecca Alfonso

     A Classic Italian Restaurant Steak Entrée!
     Bistecca Alfonso seems to have vanished from restaurant menus over the years.  Steak Alfonso is a very nice tasting steak entrée.  This steak entrée has good eye appeal if a little extra effort is applied to the presentation.
     I learned today's recipe while working with an Italian chef in Philadelphia back in the late 1970's.  I am not sure whether Bistecca Alfonso was originally named after an Italian restaurant owner, a famous person or a chef.  There is almost no written information about the origin or history of Steak Alphonso.  
     There is also an Italian recipe for Steak Alonzo, which is similar to today's Steak Alphonso recipe.  I learned the Steak Alonzo recipe somewhere in the Philly area back in those days.  I asked the Italian chef in Philadelphia if he knew the origin of the Steak Alonzo recipe, on a day when we were selling Steak Alphonso as a speciale del giorno.  The Italian chef just laughed and said, "Oh yeh!  Alonzo comes from the other side of the railroad tracks!  Way on the other side!"
     The only place that I have seen Steak Alonzo cooked was local Philly diners that had Italian cooks in the kitchen.  Basically the only difference between Steak Alphonso and Steak Alonzo is that the Alonzo version had no cheese in the recipe.

     A few years later in my career, I was working in an Italian restaurant in Florida.  The Italian restaurant owner was an award winning chef from New York City.  The chef occasionally ran Steak Alfonso as a speciale del giorno.  This proves that Steak Alphonso was a standardized recipe, that many Italian chefs knew by heart.
     Steak Alphonso for the most part is now a lost and forgotten recipe from the good old days of fine dining.  In modern times, few chefs have heard of this recipe.  The exception is old school Italian chefs from the Northeast.  

     People do take interest in old forgotten classic recipes, because of the level of comfort that classic cuisine provides.  Guests that are tired of constantly being challenged by eccentric cuisine and tiny portions, will breath a sigh of relief when a classic entrée is served.  This is especially true when the classic entrée happens to be an Italian style steak with a nice topping!
     Pizzaiola Sauce:
     This recipe yields enough sauce for 1 steak.  (About 1 cup)
     Pizzaiola Sauce is a traditional sauce for steak and it is always made to order (A la minute)!
     Step 1:  Place 1 cup  of Imported Italian canned peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes (packed in their own juices with basil) in a mixing bowl.
     Coarsely crush the tomatoes by hand and set them aside.
     Step 2:  Heat sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1 thin sliced clove of garlic.
     Sauté till the garlic turns a golden color.
     Step 3:  Add the reserved hand crushed tomatoes with their juices.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 1 pinch of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of crushed dried red pepper.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 4:  Rapidly simmer and reduce, while occasionally stirring, till the sauce is a medium thin consistency with no excess watery juices.
     Step 5:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Keep the sauce warm on a stove top.
     Bistecca Alfonso:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Season a 12 to 14 ounce NY Strip Steak with sea salt and black pepper.
     Set the steak aside.
     Step 2:  Cut enough mixed red bell pepper and green bell pepper strips to cover the steak.  The pepper strips should be 3/8" wide.  The pepper strips should be cut long enough to cover the width of the steak.  
     Set the pepper strips aside.
     Step 3:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Place the steak in the pan.
     Sear the steak on both sides till it is browned and cooked to slightly less than the desired finish temperature.
     Step 4:  Remove the steak from the sauté pan and place it on a broiler pan.
     Step 5:  Place the sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Add the reserved mixed green and red bell pepper strips.
     Sauté the pepper strips till they are al dente.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 6:  Spoon the reserved Pizzaiola Sauce over the steak on the broiler pan.
     Place a few thin slices of mozzarella cheese over the sauce.
     Arrange the pepper strips on top of the cheese so they look nice.  (Alternate the green and red pepper strips.)
     Step 7:  Place the broiler pan with the steak in a 350ºF oven.
     Roast till the mozzarella softens and the steak reheats.
     Step 8:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Use a long spatula to place the steak on a plate.
     Serve with a vegetable and rice of your choice.
     Garnish with a parsley sprig.
     *The entree in the pictures was served with Sautéed Spinach and Risi di Funghi (Mushroom Rice).
     Risi di Funghi:
     This recipe yields 2 portions.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1/3 cup of chopped mushrooms.
     Sauté till the mushrooms are tender.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 cup of long grain white rice.
     Stir for about 30 seconds.
     Step 3:  Add 1 cup of mushroom broth.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 4:  Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Simmer and stir occasionally.
     The rice will take almost twenty minutes to cook.
     Step 6:  Keep the Risi di Funghi warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.
     Use a ring mold to plate a portion of the Risi di Funghi.
     Garlic Spinach:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Sautéed spinach only takes 1 minute to cook and it should be cooked just before the entrée is served.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1 chopped clove of garlic.
     Sauté till the garlic is a golden color.
     Step 2:  Add 3 1/4 cups of fresh baby spinach leaves.
     Season with sea salt and black pepper.
     Stir and toss till the spinach wilts.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the sautéed spinach on the plate.
     Bistecca Alfonso looks as good as it tastes!   Risi di Funghi is a perfect accompaniment for this steak.     

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