Has to be one of the top three BEST steaks I’ve EVER eaten! And to think I was a bit concerned when I saw it was basted with fish sauce. But then I started thinking fish sauce is umami, which pairs beautifully with steak. (Curiously, the Italian word bistecca is actually borrowed from the English “beef steak.”)
When it comes to the meat, it’s best to order a 1-1/2- to 2-inch-thick porterhouse that weighs in at 2 1/2 to 3 pounds a piece (figure about 3/4 lbs. per person). But the thickest I could get my hands on was 1 1/2″ thick and weighed in at 1.6 pounds. With that knowledge, I chopped off a few minutes in the grilling process to make sure it wasn’t overcooked. Ended up being the perfect amount for the two of us.
Porterhouse is the best cut (and usually the most pricey); failing that a T-Bone, and failing that, a strip steak. Absolute purists say that the T-bone should have filet on one side, and sirloin on the other. One piece of meat is expected to be shared between two and four diners—depending on how much it weighs. You’d be wise to contact your local butcher and ask to have the meat cut and weighed to your exact specifications ahead of time.
The meat should sit out of the refrigerator for at least an hour before starting. Okay, that being said, here’s another takeaway on resting steak at room temperature: Don’t bother. Rather, dry them very thoroughly on paper towels before searing. Or better yet, salt them and let them rest uncovered on a rack in the fridge for a night or two, so that their surface moisture can evaporate. You’ll get much more efficient browning that way.
I’ve also read when cooking thick steaks, start them on the cooler side of the grill and cook with the lid on until they reach about ten degrees below final serving temperature. Finish them off on the hot side of the grill for a great crust. Just the opposite of what this recipe calls for. I’ll leave you to have those arguments with yourself… I followed the recipe as listed below, and our steak was heavenly!
The 20 minute resting time is an excruciating waiting period because it smells absolutely divine; so let’s face it, we had to “taste-test” by dipping our pinky into the juices. This caused an automatic reaction of grumbling stomachs and salivating tastebuds. When it’s finally time to cut the meat off the bone, you are practically ravenous. But gather yourself together enough to slice those slabs against the grain and divvy up amongst the dinner plates. It’s probably a wise idea to have some crusty bread on hand for mopping up any stray juices, it’s just that good!
Along with some grilled long hot green peppers, I made an herby side salad of sweet multi-color cherry tomatoes freshly picked from the garden, and seasoned with oregano, minced shallot, olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper.
There’s only one 100% reliable way that I know of to guarantee that your meat will be perfectly cooked every single time, and that’s by using an accurate instant-read thermometer like the Thermapen by Thermoworks.
They can be a little pricey, but you will quickly make that money back by never overcooking another piece of expensive meat again, no matter how big it is, how fatty it is, or how many beverages you might have indulged in beforehand. In true Tuscan fashion, the steak should be eaten rare, but these directions are for medium-rare (125°)—just don’t go any more well done than that. Be prepared to oooh and aaah throughout the meal…
Grilled Bistecca with Herby Fish Sauce
- 2 (1 1/2″–2″-thick) porterhouse steaks (about 6 lb. total)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt
- 3 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped marjoram, rosemary, and/or thyme
- Rub steak with 1/4 cup oil; season with salt and sprinkle with pepper (it should nearly cover both sides). Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes.
- Mix garlic, fish sauce, herbs, and remaining 1/4 cup oil in a small bowl.
- Prepare a grill for medium-high indirect heat (for a gas grill, leave one or two burners off; for a charcoal grill, bank coals on one side of grill).
- Grill steaks over direct heat until nicely charred, about 2 minutes per side.
- Move steaks over indirect heat and continue grilling, basting with fish sauce mixture, until browned all over, about 5 minutes per side. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of steaks should register 120°F for rare; temperature will rise to 125°F (or medium-rare) as they rest.
- Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 20 minutes before slicing against the grain.
Bistecca recipe by Ignacio Mattos found on Epicurious.com