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Broccoli Rabe & Peppercorn Steak Salad

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Anyone who has had steak au poivre, French peppercorn steak, which was in fashion when Julia Child was giving cooking lessons on television years ago, will recognize its spirit, but here is a slimmed down version. Simply press smashed peppercorns and coarse sea salt into the meat before you slip it onto the grill, and sear. The combined bold flavors and complementing spiciness of the steak and broccoli rabe set off instant pleasure alarms on the palate. A good, bold olive oil or a simple lemony dressing like the one below is all you need to bring the two together in a salad. While we’re on the French theme, you might also consider joining the two with a classic French vinaigrette or, if you like bracing, intense flavors, serve the steak and greens with horseradish cream.

Recipe by Julia della Croce
Julia is one of America’s foremost authorities on Italian cooking. She is a James Beard Award winning author and has written over 15 cookbooks.

Serves: 4–5
Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: ~1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 pound flank, strip, shell, or other boneless steak, whole, about 1-inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns or mixed Schezuan and black
  • Coarse sea salt to taste
  • Peppercorns
  • 1 bunch or 1 package pre-washed broccoli rabe
  • Good, bold extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt

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Directions

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1. On a cutting board, spread out the peppercorns between two pieces of waxed paper. Use the dull side of a meat mallet, or a rolling pin, to gently crush them. The peppercorns should be cracked, not ground. Press them into both sides of the steak. Scatter the salt sparingly on the surface—be careful, a coarse granule goes a very long way.

2. Prepare a charcoal or a gas grill, or preheat a broiler. Sear the meat well on both sides, cooking it through to the desired doneness. Transfer it to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Using a sharp chef knife, cut it across the grain into very thin slices.

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3. While the meat is cooking, prepare the broccoli rabe as for poaching or boiling broccoli rabe, cooking it for 3-4 minutes. Alternatively, grill it. Drain and arrange it on a serving platter. “Shingle” the steak slices over the greens. Moisten with the olive oil and season sparingly with the salt. Alternatively, prepare one of the dressings below.

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Variation with Classic French Vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tbsp. good red wine vinegar, 1 tsp. dijon mustard, a pinch of sea salt, a pinch of sugar, and pepper to taste. Then stir in 1 small shallot, minced, and let the mixture macerate. Serve over greens and drizzle with 3 tbsp. olive oil.

Variation with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and Mustard Dressing: Whisk together 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest, 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard,1 large clove smashed garlic, and fine sea salt to taste

Variation with Quinoa: Before cooking the meat, put 2 cups uncooked quinoa in a sieve and rinse well under cold running water; drain and shake off excess water. In an ample saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, stir the quinoa together with 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low and cover tightly. When the water has been absorbed and the kernels have popped, 10-12 minutes, turn off the heat. Allow it to settle for 2-3 minutes. Fluff with a fork and transfer to the serving platter reserved for the steak and broccoli rabe. Arrange the sliced meat and the greens over the quinoa and dribble the dressing on top. The grains will absorb the tasty meat juices mingled with the dressing.

Variation with Potatoes: Before cooking the meat, scrub 1 pound small fingerling, Red Bliss, or new potatoes. Cover them with cold water and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat until tender but not mushy. Drain and immerse in cold water to cool. Drain well and slice into approximate 1/8-inch rounds. Arrange them on the bottom of the serving platter. Top with the broccoli rabe, followed by the sliced peppercorn steak and dressing.

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