As March makes her entrance, I crave neither the heavy fare of winter nor the light dishes of spring, but something in between. This dish wins the goldilocks challenge, marrying the warm and comforting flavors of the months behind with the light and vibrant flavors of the season ahead. A glass of not-too light, but not-too heavy Chianti, and well, it’s just right.
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus 6-24 hours of marinating time
Cooking time: 10-12 minutes, plus 1 hour for the polenta
- 1 ¼-pound skirt steak
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic, divided
- 1 tablespoon minced rosemary, divided
- 1 tablespoon minced thyme, divided
- ¼ cup plus 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe, ends trimmed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 small chunk Parmigiano Reggiano for grating
- Creamy polenta (see below)
- Salsa verde (see below)
- Marinated slow roasted or sun-dried tomatoes from a jar for serving (optional)
- Trim the steak of any excess fat and cut it in half horizontally (or in thirds) for easier grilling. Put the steaks into a large re-sealable plastic bag and add half of the garlic, half of the rosemary, half of the thyme and ¼ cup of the olive oil. Mix the marinade around to evenly coat the steak, and refrigerate for 6-24 hours.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the broccoli rabe. Prepare an ice bath. Add the broccoli rabe to the boiling water and cook 2-4 minutes, or until bright green and crisp tender. Using tongs, transfer the broccoli rabe to the ice bath to cool. Pat dry with a kitchen towel. (If not using immediately, wrap the blanched broccoli rabe in paper towels and store in a large re-sealable plastic bag for up to 24 hours.)
- 30-45 minutes before cooking, take the meat out of the refrigerator to come to room temperature. In a shallow dish, combine the blanched broccoli rabe with the remaining garlic, rosemary, thyme and 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, along with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Heat a grill-pan to medium-high heat. Brush the marinade off of the steaks and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill the steaks for 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and cover loosely with foil.
- Grill the broccoli rabe on both sides until lightly charred in places. Transfer to a platter; season with a bit of salt and pepper. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and grate Parmigiano Reggiano over the top.
- Slice the steak thinly against the grain and serve over creamy polenta. Drizzle the salsa verde over the steak and sprinkle some of the marinated tomatoes alongside. Serve with the grilled broccoli rabe.
The ratio for polenta is 4 parts of water to 1 part of stone-ground cornmeal. The trick to a luscious texture is to cook it low and slow. You don’t have to be anchored to the stovetop while it cooks, but you will need to pop into the kitchen every now and again to give it a stir. Nothing will compare to the resulting bright corn flavor and creamy texture.
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup stone-ground polenta (or cornmeal)
- 1-1 ½ cups milk
- 2-4 tablespoons butter (to taste)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In a medium saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta. Bring the water back to a boil, whisking constantly, and cook until the polenta starts to thicken, 2-4 minutes. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and stir with a wooden spoon. Simmer the polenta gently (there should soft bubbles with an intermittent plop), stirring occasionally and adding a splash of milk every now and then to moisten. Cook for 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, taste the polenta to see if it’s done (be careful—it’ll be hot!). It should be creamy without a grainy texture. Continue cooking for 10-15 minutes if it’s still grainy.
- Add butter to taste, along with a bit more milk if needed until you reach the consistency you want. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you’re not serving it right away, drizzle a bit more milk over the top (this will prevent a crust from forming) and cover the polenta to keep warm (it can sit for up to an hour; stir before serving).
- 1/2 tablespoon drained capers
- 1 anchovy filet, rinsed and patted dry
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced shallots (about ½ small shallot)
- 1 scant teaspoon each minced rosemary, thyme and oregano
- 1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
- 2 walnuts
- ¼ teaspoon red wine vinegar
- Pinch salt and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
In a mortar and pestle or mini food processor, combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil and process to a thick paste. Slowly add the olive oil and process until incorporated. Let the sauce sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before serving to let the flavors meld. Do Ahead: The salsa verde can be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for a week.