Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Plancha-Grilled Skirt Steak and Eggs #FoodieReads

I ordered this book - Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure by Andrew Cotto* - because my older son left on a school trip to Italy and Greece this week and I had Italy on the brain. This will be in a different post, but we had a Buon Viaggio! brunch for him before I dropped him off to leave for the airport.

I didn't tear up that he could see. Really. I didn't! Watching him say good-bye to Jake got me, right after breakfast, and when I was driving away after dropping him off.

But back to the topic of this post! I chuckled when I received the package because the author's sur name is Cotto. That means 'cooked' in Italian! That just goes to show you my sense of humor. I read it in one sitting before breakfast on the weekend and, then, climbed out of bed, inspired to make steak and eggs.

I can honestly say that I have never had steak and eggs. I've had the combination of ham and eggs, bacon and eggs, and even chorizo and eggs; plus one of my favorite breakfast spots locally serves calamari and eggs. But steak and eggs hasn't been on my radar. And I certainly didn't have it when I lived in Italy because I didn't eat meat when I lived there! But after reading the book, I whipped up some skirt steak and eggs. My three meat-loving boys were so happy. "We love that book, Mom!" they declared. "Even though we haven't read it. We love what it inspired." Recipe to follow...

On the Page
The story centers around a recently unemployed Jacoby who accompanies his travel writer fiancée Claire to Italy where he finds himself soaking up the food, culture and customs of Italy. And though they are there for Claire’s assignment for the renowned Haxby’s Travel Guide, Jacoby has his own agenda: to track down the story behind a photograph of a woman who may be his mother. The back of the photograph has faded handwriting that reads ‘Villa Floria-Zanobini 1939.’

What follows is an entertaining introduction to the food and culture of this part of Italy. You get chance encounters with cinghiale (wild boar), history of the area, comical interactions between the genders, and mentions of traditional dishes and regional wines. It's a rich, and fun, novel though his handle on the Italian language is more than a little clunky. But he did have me longing for a Negroni.

"'The house special is a Negroni.'
Bill smiled and whisked two long cocktail glasses from below the bar and added some ice. Bottles of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth were tossed into a glass and given a quick spin with a long spoon. Orange peel was sliced off and used as garnish. Bill presented the translucent ruby cocktail with a nod.

'To a magnificent day,' Bill toasted" (pg. 104).

On the Plate
Inspired by this passage, I made fluffy scrambled eggs in the double boiler with fresh dill from our garden...

"Back in the barn, the yolks were huge and orange, and Jacoby hummed as he whipped a half-dozen eggs together with the some chopped prosciutto left over from Paolo's welcome bounty. He added some sage taken from a bush behind the barn. He scrambled the eggs and prosciutto then slowly reduced them to a creamy consistency over a double boiler.... Jacoby loved cooking for people, then sharing the meal and mutual pleasure of being together. Eating the same food; drinking the same wine; everyone on the same stage. It was like sex when sex was good and mutual" (pg. 68).

And steak was inspired by how he knew that his engagement was over; Claire had lied about where she had been for days.

"'The steak is from the butcher in Panzano.'
'How'd you know that?'
Jacoby looked at Claire. 'Sage. The cows he gets his meat from are fed on enough sage that there's a hint of its flavor in the meat. I knew it that night in the restaurant..." (pg. 174).

Plancha-Grilled Skirt Steak

  • 2 lb skirt steak (approximately three 1/2" thick pieces)
  • 2-1/2 t whole peppercorns (I used a mixture of black, white, and pink)
  • 1 T coarse sea salt
  • Also needed: caramelized onions, roasted potatoes, fluffy scrambled eggs, fresh lemons or limes

Prepare plancha grill for cooking over direct heat. While grill is heating, coarsely crush peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. Mix the crushed pepper with the sea salt and set aside.

Pat steaks dry and sprinkle both sides liberally with the salt-pepper mixture, pressing gently to help it stick to the meat. Grill steaks on lightly oiled grill. Cook approximately 7 or 8 minutes total for medium-rare, so 4 minutes on each side.

Transfer steaks to a cutting board and let stand, tented loosely with foil, for 5 to 10 minutes. Thinly slice steaks diagonally and serve with caramelized onions (process in this post), roasted potatoes, and fluffy scrambled eggs for a filling Cucina Tipica breakfast. We like to squeeze fresh lemon or lime juice over our grilled steaks.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

Here's what everyone else read in March 2019: here.


  1. Well now I need to read this book so I find out if he found his mother.

    1. I'll send it to you! Might not get to the post office this week, but I'll try.


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