Since I never eat (or write about) meat, I have felt pangs of guilt. So, I proudly present to you, my carnivorous friends, my carnivorous husband, David. He is a grill master and above all else a true foodie–before foodies were even foodies.
While checking out my wife’s blog the other day, I was studying the list of recipes and, sadly, came to realize there was only one beef entry out of well over 100 recipes and just two poultry dishes. What came as no surprise was there were more than 20 desserts and almost 20 vegetarian dishes.
As a certified carnivore, I mentioned to Heather that the meat-eaters must be feeling left out, so I suggested a steak item. Of course, as with all of my entries on this blog, this comes with a story.
This is a tale of a man who would drive five hours to eat a steak prepared in a special way at a restaurant in Manhattan. His name is Bruce Sysyn and he lived in Manchester, New Hampshire. By the way, this story is circa 1975.
Bruce was a friend of mine from the post-ski racing days when I worked in the ski industry and helped with the U.S. Ski Team and the Winter Olympics. I was living in a New York at the time and frequented a restaurant on 63st Street known as Il Vagabondo. The restaurant is still there today (though as of 2018, it is claims to be “temporarily closed”) and was recently featured on the Food Network’s show, The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Emeril Lagasse (aka Large-Assee) identified this as his favorite veal parmigiana.
Il Vagabondo was quite a quirky place full of celebrities, sports figures, etc., but back then, had no menus and the Italian waiters spoke very little English. I happened to take Bruce there for dinner one night and when I inquired as to what he would like to eat, he said, “I want a big steak.”
“Bruce,” I said, “This is an Italian restaurant. I don’t know if they have steaks, but I’ll ask.”
When the waiter came to the table, I told him in half English and half bad Italian that my friend wanted a steak. A big steak. And he said,”No problema,” and off he went.
Twenty minutes later, he shows up at the table with one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Probably a 2-lb., 3″ thick New York strip covered in tomato sauce and melting cheese (their secret cheese was to use Muenster*) oozing over the top. Bruce had the biggest smile on his face I had ever seen and proceeded to eat the monster. I had a bite and it was fabulous!
From then on, Bruce would call me from time to time and ask me what I was doing that night because he was “ready to drive five hours from New Hampshire to Manhattan for another great steak.” For whatever reason, this whole scenario popped into my head when I thought about making a meat dish for my fellow carnivores and here’s the recipe.
*Note: Having been a regular at Il Vagabondo, I walked over to the open kitchen to inquire about the cheese which tasted so much better than the usual tasteless mozzarella. I couldn’t speak Italian, but I did look around and realized they were using Muenster cheese to top the Parmigiana dishes. I asked, “Muenster?” And they nodded and replied, “Si.” From that day forward, I have kept their cheesy little secret secret, until now.
- 1 New York strip steak or for a vegetarian version slice eggplant into thick 1" slices lengthwise
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Tomato sauce or marinara sauce homemade or Rao's in a jar
- 1-2 slices Muenster cheese deli sliced
- Freshly chopped parsley and oregano for garnish
Splash a little olive oil on both sides of the steak (or eggplant) and sprinkle some salt and pepper as well.
Grill over a hot charcoal fire or gas grill to your desired doneness.
Spread a little tomato sauce on top of the steak and top with the Muenster cheese. Close the grill hood and allow the cheese to melt.
Remove the steak (or eggplant) from the grill and sprinkle with some chopped parsley and oregano. Serve immediately over a bed of tomato sauce along with a side of 'sketti topped with more tomato sauce.