Family Style Eating: Hanger Steak Nicoise and Tomatoes and Mozzarella
I was giving some thought to formal dining at home the other day and specifically whether American families still sit down for formal, multi-course, meals? During my childhood, our family often started meals with a pasta or soup course followed by a family style meal including 3-4 dishes consisting of a protein, starch, vegetable, and a simple salad. Currently, our young family employs the same dining ritual with the aforementioned first course/family style hybrid model (though we usually just cook a single green, so it’s salad or a vegetable dish).
Recently, we had a young family over for an early dinner and we decided to put together a true family style dinner consisting of one large platter with a few sources of protein, vegetables, and a platter. The dish was a variation of a Tuna Nicoise salad but instead of the tuna in olive oil we served grilled hanger steak (derived from the diaphragm of a steer and similar to flank steak) marinated in lemon juice, garlic, and rosemary (as well as hard boiled eggs, string beans, and baby potatoes). The salad was dressed with a basic vinaigrette with the edition of finely chopped garlic. We also “cheated” and put together a plate of sliced, garden ripe, tomatoes and fresh, whole milk, mozzarella; I haven’t yet met an Italian cook who thinks he or she has prepared enough food.
Note that the French would argue fiercely that any Tuna Nicoise salad would not include potatoes and, moreover, any cooked vegetables. A classic Tuna Nicoise usually includes canned tuna in olive oil, raw red peppers, shallots, artichoke hearts, boiled eggs, lettuce, olives, tomatoes, a few anchovies, and a basic vinaigrette.