BISTECCA ALLA DIAVOLA (ITALIAN DEVILED STEAKS)
Yeah, I know, we don't eat as much red meat as we used to. Still, when something as delicious as a thick, pound-anna-half T-bone turns up for 5 bucks in what we indelicately call the "dead meat department," the bargain bin end of the meat shelf in our favorite store where they dump about-to-expire items at fire-sale prices, it's hard to resist.
Given the well-aged (but still very palatable) quality of this particular chunk, I decided to go with a potent wine sauce, and stuck fairly close to the procedure for "Bistecca alla Diavola" outlined in Marcella Hazan's first book, "The Classic Italian Cook Book".
As with Chinese stir-frying, this is a procedure that moves very rapidly at the end, so it's best to prepare all the ingredients and set them out in a row before you fire up the skillet.
In this order, you'll need:
1 or 2 large garlic cloves, minced fine
1 teaspoon fresh fennel seeds (they're in season in our back yard) or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon tomato paste thinned with 1 tablespoon water (I subbed 2 tablespoons thick, homemade tomato sauce)
1 fresh hot pepper (I used a jalapeno), ribs and seeds removed, sliced thin
A Rosso di Montalcino, a dry, fruity Italian red, made a fine companion to this hearty autumn meal.