This is not one of my family’s recipes and I only started cooking it a relatively short time ago. Sure, I’d heard of steak pizzaiola but, for some reason, I always assumed that it was too complicated for me to attempt. Then, one night I saw a rerun of an “Everybody Loves Raymond” episode in which the recipe was a point of contention between Debra & Marie. After the show, I searched the web for the recipe and was surprised to learn just how easy the dish is to prepare. Basically, it’s a steak and marinara sauce served over pasta. Well, I decided to give it a try and I’ve continued to make steak pizzaiola ever since. It is one of those recipes where a minimum of effort results in a great dinner — and it’s a bargain to prepare, as well.
Searching the web, I soon learned that, as easy as it is, there’s no one way to make steak pizzaiola. It’s as if there’s a different recipe for every cut of meat, especially since the better the cut, the less time needed to cook it. As a result, some recipes feature a steak that’s braised slowly in the sauce while, in others, the steak and sauce are cooked separately, to be combined just prior to serving. Although there’s something to be said for the “fast approach,” I very much prefer a slow and steady method of cooking for this dish. So, I look for a cheaper cut of meat, preferably “bone-in” for added flavor, and let it braise for a couple of hours in the oven. The sauce itself is uncomplicated and there’s no need for a lot of herbs and spices. The braising will do the work for you and infuse the sauce with a rich beef flavor. Now, my family uses very little oregano in its dishes but so many of the web recipes call for it that I’ve listed it here, among the ingredients. Use it instead of, or in combination with, the Italian seasoning, if you like. In fact, if oregano is a favorite of yours, you may want to increase the amount listed in the recipe below. As for the type of pasta to use, I prefer serving it with rigatoni, penne, or cavatappi but feel free to use whatever works for you and your family.
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Steak Pizzaiola Recipe
total time: about 2 1/2 hours.
yield: about 8 servings.
- 2 – 3 pounds chuck steak, bone-in
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, depending upon taste
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
- 2 – 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 large can (28 oz.) tomatoes (I prefer diced or crushed)
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning or dried oregano or any combination of the two
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- salt & pepper
- 1 lb pasta, cooked al dente per package instructions, reserve 1 cup of pasta water
- grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- Pre-heat oven to 325*
- Heat oil in large, oven-proof, frying pan with a tight-fitting lid, over med-high heat.
- Season meat liberally with salt & pepper and sear in frying pan, about 4 minutes each side.
- Remove meat to a platter and add red pepper flakes to the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add onions to the pan, season with salt & pepper, and sauté until translucent, about 6 – 8 minutes
- Add garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
- Add tomato paste and continue cooking for 1 – 2 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, parsley, Italian seasoning and/or optional oregano, and stir to combine with pan’s contents. Season with salt and pepper.
- Return meat to the pan, cover the meat with sauce, cover tightly with lid, and place in center of oven.
- Braise meat for 2 hours, checking it every 30 minutes or so. Either flip the meat over or spoon more sauce over it.
- After 2 hours, begin heating water for the pasta and remove the lid from the pan in the oven. This will allow the sauce to thicken while the pasta cooks. When the pasta is al dente, reserve a cup of pasta water, drain the pasta, and check your sauce. If your sauce is too dry, use the pasta water to compensate.
- Place drained pasta in a large bowl. Take sauce out of the oven, remove any loose bones, and combine with cooked pasta. Garnish with basil and grated Pecorino Roman cheese.
- Serve immediately.
As was mentioned earlier, some recipes call for using better cuts of meat than a chuck steak. Normally, those recipes do not need a long braise like the one that I’ve shared; the cut of meat is far more tender already. I very much prefer the long braise method, however, for it not only renders the meat fork-tender but the sauce’s flavors are more developed.
At one time or another, we all have some left-over pasta sitting in our fridge. Re-heating it can be a problem, unless you use Mom & Zia’s method. Rather than use the microwave, place about a tablespoon of butter and about 1/4 cup of water into a frying pan over med-high heat. Add the left-over pasta and sauté until heated through. Add a little more water if the pasta is too dry. Serve immediately, garnished with Pecorino Roman cheese. Understand that the pasta cannot possibly be al dente — that ship sailed the minute you put the left-overs into the fridge. This will, however, re-invigorate the sauce in ways that a microwave never could. As they say, “Try it. You’ll like it.”
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