II Setti Consuli is Orvieto’s most serious restaurant: they are soberly and steadily setting their sights on gastronomic fame, Michelin stars etc. Despite this handicap, the cooking is good and the wine list spectacular. Tignanello 1989 was a very good year and used to feature on their wine list. I use the past tense because in the summer of 1994 I drank them out of it and the more expensive 1985. To accompany these liquid lunches, I ate this outstanding beef dish. Incidentally, I discovered that the meat was Aberdeen Angus and imported from Scotland.
Make the garlic butter first. Allow the butter to soften. Squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl and add the soft butter in small pieces. Chop the parsley coarsely and add to the bowl along with the garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Stir and mash with a wooden spoon until mixed. Tip it out on to a large square of aluminium foil and roll into a tube 3 cm in diameter. Chill until needed.
Light your barbecue. I’m afraid a real fire is necessary for this dish. You need to cook your steak and mushrooms when the grill is very hot. Fan or blow on the fire just before cooking. Whilst the fire is dying down, season the meat copiously and lightly brush with olive oil. Do the same for the mushroom caps.
To grill the meat and mushrooms place the meat on the grill’s hottest part and leave for 10 minutes. Arrange the mushroom caps topside down around the meat. Turn the mushrooms after 5 minutes and give 5 minutes on the other side, then remove to a tray or dish and keep slightly warm.
After 10 minutes turn the beef and give 10 minutes on the other side. This will be rare. Remove to the same tray as the mushrooms and rest for 10 minutes near enough to the fire to keep warm.
While the beef is resting, cut 4 × 1 cm slices of the garlic butter, and put these on top to melt and mingle with the beef and mushroom juices. Heat two dinner plates.
To serve, carve the steak into six angled slices, and arrange three on each plate. Cover these with half the mushrooms each, and pour over the juices. The dish will be at this stage lukewarm, this is intended. It is not meant to be hot; in many cases lukewarm or room-temperature food is better than hot.
© 1996 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.