SAUTEED STEAKS WITH MARSALA AND CHILI PEPPERS (Italian, for four)
extra virgin olive oil
4 New York strip steaks, ¾ inch thick, brought to room temperature before cooking
freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dry Marsala wine
½ cup dry red wine
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon tomato paste, diluted with 2 tablespoons water
chopped red chili pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1. Choose a skillet that can subsequently accommodate all the steaks in a single layer. Put in just enough olive oil, tilting the pan in several directions, to coat the bottom well. Turn the heat on to high and, when the oil is hot enough that a slight haze forms over it, slip in the steaks. Cook them to taste, preferably rare, approximately 4 minutes on one side and 3 minutes on the other. When done, turn off heat, transfer steaks to a warm platter and sprinkle with salt and a few grindings of pepper.
2. Turn the heat on to medium high under the skillet and put in the Marsala and red wine. Let the wines bubble for half a minute, while scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen and cooking residues stuck to the bottom and sides.
3. Add the garlic, cook just long enough to stir 2 or 3 times, add the fennel seeds and stir for a few seconds, then add the diluted tomato paste and chili peppers to taste. Turn the heat down to medium and cook, stirring frequently, for a minute or so, until a dense, syrupy sauce is formed.
4. Return the steaks to the pan for no longer than it takes to turn them 2 or 3 times in the sauce. Turn the steaks and their sauce to a warmed serving platter, top with chopped parsley, and serve at once.
adapted from Marcella Hazan, The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking