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Grilled Florentine Steak

I first had Tagliata di Manzo (grilled Florentine steak) was at a little farmhouse restaurant outside of Sestriere, Italy, home of the Olympic alpine events. None of us particularly enjoyed Sestriere, but we had a handful of restaurants that will be lifelong memories. I had been to this farm house some years earlier, as well. This is a super simple recipe that is elegant and an excellent way to avoid chowing down an entire steak.

Tagliata means something cut, and that’s exactly what you do with this bistecca alla Florentina. I’ve found the best results using a thick cut T-bone or porterhouse. In a pinch, rib eye will work but it’s not quite the same. A thick steak — 1-1/2-inches to 3 inches — is ideal. But i’ve also done it with inch thick — I wouldn’t recommend anything smaller.

What really makes this steak so appealing is the combination of flavors. When you combine this cut of meat with the sharp flavors of arugula and parmesan reggiano, tied together with the subtlety of olive oil, you have a world class combination.

Ingredients (easily serves four)

  • 1-1/2 – 2-lb. T-bone or porterhouse
  • Bunch of arugula (or rocket) leaves
  • 2-4 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano chunk
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation

  • Bring the steak up to room temperature; do not salt, pepper or oil steak in advance
  • Grill steak on hot grill; if possible to tilt the grill to keep the drippings from flaming right under the steak; grill to medium rare (135-140), about 5-7 minutes per side
  • Let steak rest 4-5 minutes before slicing across the grain into 2-3 inch pieces
  • Arrange 4-5 pieces per person on center of plate, season with salt and pepper, if desired
  • Cover with arugula leaves
  • Shave Parmigiano onto arugula leaves
  • Drizzle olive oil over top and serve

This has become one of our favorite winter dishes. We usually do it as part of a four-course dinner. We start with Italian meats and cheeses, usually with a light wine (Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio is a favorite). The first course is usually an arugula salad (yes, lots of arugula). Our second course, or primi piatti, is usually a pasta dish. My favorite is a penne pasta with a rich ragu mixed with cream, fused into the pasta in a skillet. We then move to the Tagliata di Manzo as our secondi, followed by dessert.

The wine pairing for the pasta and bistecca should be big and bold, but that covers pretty much any Northern italian red. Recently we’ve enjoyed a wonderful 2004 Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco. I thought it be a little light, but it opened up perfectly. Our friend Annette brought the Barbaresco. We were excited as we also had a 1988 and 1999 in our cellar. We decided to do a tasting with the 1988 and her 2004. The tasting went south quickly as we discovered the 1988 hadn’t aged well. But the 2004 more than made up for it!

Another reasonably priced ($15-18) Italian red that would work well is a Masi Campofiorin. This is a blend from the the region around Trentino/Alto Adige, famous for its Amarone and Valpolicella. I discovered it at a small Italian restaurant in Idaho Springs, CO, of all places. Of course, a nice Brunello, Barola or Amarone would be fabulous, as well, as would a nice California Cabernet.

One final tip. If you go the full route on this with four courses, let your guests know in advance. And stage the portions accordingly — especially with the pasta coming first, you don’t want to fill everyone up.

If you want to find this in a recipe book, you’ll find it in many. Mario Batali has a great variation with spinach but without the Parmagiano. My recipe is first from my memory from Italy, but formalized with the recipe in a truly great Italian cookbook, Williams-Sonoma’s Florence. 

Enjoy!