In a heavy saucepan, heat 3 cups of water with the wine vinegar, sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, the bay leaf, and the red pepper for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
Immediately pour the pickling liquid over the onions, cover, and allow to come to room temperature before refrigerating for at least 24 hours.
Put the steaks in a shallow nonreactive glass or ceramic dish and add the balsamic vinegar and 1 up of olive oil. Turn the steaks to coat evenly with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 6 hours.
Lift the steaks from the marinade, pat off most of the olive oil with paper towels, and season well with salt and pepper.
Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the steaks for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until they form a nice crust and are medium rare. The steaks should not be cooked any further, as they can toughen. let the steaks rest off the heat for 4 minutes before slicing.
Slice the steaks against the grain and divide among 4 serving plates. Put a nice pile of pickled red onions alongside the steaks, drizzle each plate with olive oil, and serve.
Reprinted with permission from ©Rick Tramonto, Osteria: Hearty Italian Fare from Rick Tramonto's Kitchen, published by Broadway Books click for book review
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