Tagliata, Florentine-Style

Autumn in Virginia tends to be mild, which means it lacks the splash of a New England or Midwestern fall. Fading green, yellow, and brown are the predominant colors in my yard at the moment.

On the upside, a mild fall means an extended grilling season. And that means I get to keep making this tagliata from Emiko Davies’ book “Florentine: The True Cuisine of Florence.”

Tagliata means “cut” or “sliced.” Hence the word “tagliatelle,” which refers to sheets of pasta sliced into ribbons. Here, however, we’re talking about beef, specifically Florentine Chianina beef, which is some of the best in the world. Done this way, minimally seasoned, simply grilled, then sliced, it is beyond delicious.

If you keep up with Italian food blogs, chances are you are familiar with Emiko Davies. She writes about regional Italian cuisine, with an emphasis on the food of her adopted hometown of Florence, for her own blog and for Food 52. She also takes beautiful, evocative photos of the city, many of which are included in her book.

Ciao!

Even before I met Emiko this summer I knew we would have plenty in common; we both draw inspiration from regional Italian home cooking and from the 19th Century Italian cookbook author Pellegrino Artusi. Also, how could I not admire a cook who searches high and low to source fresh pig’s blood for sanguinaccio ~ a traditional custard-like chocolate pudding made during butchering season? (I have never had it, but my Abruzzese mother loved it and used to describe to me, with some nostalgia and much fondness, the process of stirring the thick mixture of milk, chocolate, sugar, and blood.)

Waiting for a table at Trattoria Mario

Emiko met my jet-lagged family and me for lunch on a sweltering day in late July. With the possible exception of our son, who sleepwalked through most of the day, we loved being treated to this insider’s glimpse of one of the most tourist-trafficked cities in the world (more on Florence in a future post). We had lunch at Fiaschetteria-Trattoria Mario, a Florence institution in the historic centro. It’s a tiny, casual, family-run place with white tile, wood paneled walls, a tacked-up hand-written menu on butcher paper, and lots of activity. And like a lot of traditional Florentine trattorie, it’s open only for lunch.

Juicy roast pork loin, potatoes, and beans. Photo by Emiko Davies

The kitchen specializes in classic dishes, particularly roasts and steaks, and we shared several platters, including (if I remember correctly) roast veal and pork, and beef tagliata, along with sides of roast potatoes and stewed beans. After I got home, I turned to my copy of Florentine” to read more about the traditional food of the city, and this tagliata jumped right out at me. It’s the first recipe I’ve made from Emiko’s book but it won’t be the last.

Tagliata di Manzo

This tagliata di manzo calls for just five ingredients ~ beef, rosemary, extra-virgin olive oil, arugula, and shaved parmigiano ~ which means that they must be high quality in order to shine. Since I can’t get Chianina beef around here, I buy naturally raised beef, mostly from local farmers’ markets. Olio2Go is my source for excellent Italian olive oil, including the peppery Tuscan oil that puts the finishing touch on this dish.

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PRESERVING ITALY EVENTS: The book tour is winding down, but there are a handful of events and classes coming up. I’ll be adding a few more in the coming days so please continue to check the Events Calendar, and join me if you are in the area.

Harbor Springs Festival of the Book, Sept. 30-Oct. 2: I’m excited to be part of the inaugural Harbor Springs Festival of the Book, in beautiful Northern Michigan. Join me Friday, 9/30 for a Preserving Italy luncheon at Birchwood Farms Golf & Country Club. Chef John will be making recipes from the book and I’ll be in conversation with my friend, cookbook author Maureen Abood. More here.

Oct. 14, 11 a.m.: Join me at National Italian American Foundation’s 41st gala in Washington, D.C. I’ll be demonstrating how to make traditional tajarin’ pasta from Piemonte. More here.

Oct. 22, 7 p.m.: Join me for a cooking class at Culinaria, in Vienna, VA. On the menu: Crostini with Ricotta and Sweet & Sour Peppers, Spaghetti alla Chitarra, and Fresh Mint Cake. More here.

ITALY EARTHQUAKE FUND RAISER: On the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 27, Via Umbria, in Georgetown, is hosting a fund raiser for victims of the recent earthquake in central Italy. There will be cooking demonstrations and tastings, regional wines, plus speakers and a live auction. I’ll be offering samples from Preserving Italy. More here.

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Makes 4 servings

Tagliata di Manzo | Beef Tagliata

Think of this as a less daunting version of bistecca alla fiorentina, that classic, gargantuan grilled and sliced Tuscan steak. Emiko Davies, author of "Florentine," suggests sirloin or rib-eye as a suitable cut. Be sure all your ingredients, especially the meat, are top quality; this simple preparation really makes them shine. Emiko suggests good crusty bread as an accompaniment. (Recipe slightly adapted from "Florentine: The True Cuisine of Florence," by Emiko Davies.)

Ingredients

  • 800 g (1 lb. 12 oz) sirloin or rib-eye steak, about 4 cm (1 1/2 in) thick
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Tuscan
  • Freshly ground black pepper and flaky sea salt to taste
  • 1 handful arugula, to serve
  • Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, to serve

Instructions

Remove the meat from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking to bring it to room temperature.

Bash the rosemary with the palm of your hand on the chopping board to release the essential oil, and drop it in a small jug or bowl with the olive oil to infuse for 1 hour.

Heat a grill pan to maximum heat (see NOTE). Season the meat with salt and brush over some of the rosemary-infused oil. When the pan begins to smoke, turn down the heat just a little and place the steak in the pan.

Cook for 4 minutes on each side, turning every 2 minutes, then cook for a further 2 minutes (on the bone side if using a bone-in cut), holding the steak upright with a pair of tongs. Transfer the meat to a plate, pour over the rest of the rosemary-infused oil and cover with aluminum foil to rest for 4-6 minutes.

Slice the meat into 1.5 cm- (1/2 inch-) thick pieces, season with freshly ground pepper and salt flakes and serve topped with fresh arugula, shaved parmigiano, and the juices left over from resting the meat.


NOTE I usually make this on my outdoor grill: Heat a charcoal grill on high, and when the flames have died down a bit place the steak on the grill. Grill for 4 minutes on each side, turning every 2 minutes, then cook for another 2 minutes, turning as needed, for a rare steak (Florentine steaks are typically served very rare).

7 Responses to Tagliata, Florentine-Style

  1. Rosa Jeanne Mayland September 21, 2016 at 2:44 pm #

    That looks ever so good! I really have to check out her book.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. Marisa @ All Our Way September 21, 2016 at 4:00 pm #

    The Tagliata di manzo is exactly how we like our beef. Simple and letting the delicious flavor of the beef come through. I love to know more about the food and in every cookbook I appreciate the photos and descriptions that go along with the recipes. It looks like your trip to Italy was fantastic!!

  3. Adrianne Laconi September 21, 2016 at 4:36 pm #

    This is by far my most favorite steak ever. A local restaurant has it on the menu (I am in Sardegna) and it’s my go to. On the other hand, saguinaccio, I have tried and you arent missing anything if you are sensitive to very metallic flavors, you wont like it.

  4. David September 22, 2016 at 4:13 am #

    So beautiful! I am quite excited to give this a try – the beauty is truly in the simplicity of this dish. have also bookmaker Fiaschetteria-Trattoria Mario for my visit to Florence a year from now!

  5. Phyllis@Oracibo September 23, 2016 at 9:13 pm #

    Yum, yum…love this dish! Talk about quick, easy & amazingly good!

  6. Emiko September 24, 2016 at 10:55 am #

    Thank you for sharing this recipe, Domenica, such a classic and one that we love at home too! I absolutely loved our time together in Florence with your family. Grazie di cuore, cara.

  7. Frank Fariello September 25, 2016 at 7:53 am #

    I’ve been an admirer of Emiko’s photography for years. I wish I had half her talent! And that tagliata, well, it looks just divine. My favorite way to enjoy steak!

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