Medium rare beef tagliata recipe or Italian sliced steak served with pan-fried tomatoes.
What is beef tagliata?
Tagliata is the Italian term for sliced steak, coming from the verb tagliare - to cut.
Tagliata di manzo or beef tagliata is a famous Italian second course (secondo piatto) consisting of a quickly pan-fried or grilled beef steak cut into rather thin, oblique slices. It should be cooked rare or medium-rare, it should have a slight crust, and it should still be rather red/ deep pink inside.
An overcooked tagliata is no joy; try to leave it at least medium. On the other hand, I know many people who always order (or cook themselves) their steaks well-done out of fear of the red interior.
In the end, they are all complaining about the chef in the restaurant or the poor quality of the meat, not realizing that it was their wish that got them a tough piece of meat and not the chef's insufficient skills... Not fair for the cook or the meat!
What meat to use?
There are several cuts of beef you can use to make a good tagliata.
- For today's beef tagliata, I chose a nice rump steak because I happened to see it, and I thought it would be perfect for the purpose. So it was, the steak was tasty and tender, and everybody just loved it!
- Rump steak is cut from the top half of an American-cut round steak primal. It is a cut from the rump primal in Britain or Australia, largely equivalent to the American sirloin. Thank you, Wikipedia!
- I have made tagliata before using ribeye steak (which is taken from the rib section), and that was absolutely scrumptious as well.
- You can also use flank steak, which is taken from the abdominal muscles or lower chest of the beef.
- In Italy, this particular steak is often cut from the beef rib with the bone in it, but you can buy the boneless version of this cut of beef for a simpler version, which will then be the entrecote.
- To really impress, you could also use the Fiorentina or the T-bone steak, which is a very special part of beef cut from the short loin and which contains a smaller section of tenderloin.
How to make tagliata?
Making a good beef tagliata at home is not as difficult as you might think. Just a few good quality ingredients, actually just a good piece of meat and some salt and pepper, a good skillet, and a few minutes of your time, and you can enjoy an amazing restaurant-worthy steak at home. At a fraction of the price, you would pay in a restaurant for a good beef tagliata...
Prepare the meat:
- Take the meat out of the fridge at least 1 hour before cooking and let it come to room temperature. The sudden changes in temperature, from refrigerator cold to hot pan, will toughen up the meat, which is not something you want to chew.
- Make sure to pat the meat dry properly using kitchen paper before cooking it; this way, the thin brown crust you are looking for will form.
- You can add salt and pepper to the steak before or after cooking it; the opinions seem to differ here; some swear on salting the steak before it is added to the pan, some others prefer to sprinkle it with salt and pepper only before serving.
- I have tried both ways; I have never noticed much of a difference, honestly...
- I use a cast-iron skillet for cooking most of my steaks; I think such a skillet is the best choice for cooking any steak. However, if you don't have it, you can use another good and, very importantly, thick-bottomed pan instead.
- The skillet has to be extremely hot when you start frying the meat, about 180 degrees Celsius/ 360 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure you heat it for about 4-5 minutes before adding the meat. The high temperature will help form a nice crust on the steak, while the interior will remain red.
- The rump steaks I cooked were almost 2 cm/ 0.8 inches thick. To get the result you see in the pictures, a medium-rare tagliata; I cooked the steaks for 2 minutes on each side.
- Slightly increase the cooking times for a steak of this thickness; if you want your tagliata to be medium-well. But don't overdo it; an overcooked steak is not nice. The tagliata should be at least pink in the middle.
- It is preferable to regard the steak's internal temperature to get the best results, as the thickness of the meat can differ considerably depending on where you buy it.
- The cooking time is affected by the type of pan you use and the pan's temperature when you start cooking.
- To check the temperature, use a meat thermometer.
Internal temperature for tagliata
- Rare – cool red center, rather pink on the outside: 49 to 52 degrees Celsius/ 120 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit, about 1 ½ minutes per side.
- Medium rare – warm red center, lightly browned on the outside: 54 - 57 degrees Celsius/ 130 – 134 degrees Fahrenheit, about 2 minutes per side.
- Medium to medium-well – pink center, mostly brown on the outside: 60 - 68 degrees Celsius/ 140 -155 degrees Fahrenheit, about 2 ½ minutes per side.
- Well done – little or no pink, very brown on the outside: (which I don't recommend): 71 - 74 degrees Celsius/ 160 - 165 degrees Fahrenheit, about 4 minutes per side.
The internal temperature will increase slightly while the steak rests.
Once the meat is cooked to your liking, please remove it from the pan and place it on a plate. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for about 5 - 10 minutes before slicing it.
- Buy a well-aged piece of meat and cook it medium or medium-rare.
- Use a neutral-tasting oil to pan-fry the steaks, something like sunflower or groundnut oil.
- Don't cook more than two steaks in a large skillet at a time.
- Never use a fork to turn the steaks in the pan. Use tongs.
- You can add a couple of garlic cloves or/and rosemary sprigs to the pan for more flavor.
What to serve with it?
The nutrition information is calculated for 4 servings. However, I have never experienced anybody eating only half of the tagliata. I usually cook three steaks for 2 adults and 2 children. And normally the children's steak is cooked medium-well.
I served the Italian steaks with cherry tomatoes, which were fried in the same pan. You can add them to the pan together with the meat and let them in the pan for a couple of minutes longer (or until done to your liking – soft and blistered but not mushy) while the tagliata is resting.
- Pork Chop Burger
- German Beef Roulades
- Baked Lamb Chops
- Rice Noodle Beef with Green Onions
- Baked Pork Chops and Potatoes
Beef Tagliata – Italian Steak
- 2 rump steaks ca 2 cm/ 0.8 inch thick, about 250 g/ 8.8 oz each (See note)
- 2 tablespoons oil sunflower or groundnut oil
- 16 - 20 cherry tomatoes optional
- flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Season: Take the rump steaks out of the refrigerator one hour before cooking. Pat them dry using kitchen paper. Rub with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Heat the cast-iron skillet very well, about 4-5 minutes. Add the oil, turn the pan carefully to coat the bottom with the oil, then add the steaks. If using, add the cherry tomatoes as well. Turn the tomatoes often while they are in the pan.
- Cook the steaks for about 2 minutes on the first side. Turn using tongs and continue cooking for another 2 minutes on the other side. The steaks will be medium-rare. If you want the steaks to be medium well or well done, add 1-2 minutes to the cooking time. See notes.
- The best way to check if the steaks are done to your liking is to check the internal temperature using a meat thermometer. The cooking times always depend on the thickness of the steak, the pan you use, and the temperature of the pan, so only a thermometer and experience can guarantee the perfect results.
- Rest: Remove the steaks from the pan, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Tomatoes: During this time continue cooking the cherry tomatoes in the skillet for 2 or 3 more minutes or until slightly blistered and done to your liking; they should be soft but not turn mushy.
- Slice the tagliata and serve as suggested above.
Medium rare – warm red center, lightly browned on the outside: 54 - 57 degrees Celsius/ 130 – 134 degrees Fahrenheit, about 2 minutes per side.
Medium to medium-well – pink center, mostly brown on the outside: 60 - 68 degrees Celsius/ 140 -155 degrees Fahrenheit, about 2 ½ minutes per side.
Well done – little or no pink, very brown on the outside: (which I don't recommend): 71 - 74 degrees Celsius/ 160 - 165 degrees Fahrenheit, about 4 minutes per side. The nutrition information is calculated for 4 servings, however, I have never experienced anybody eating only half of the tagliata. I usually cook three steaks for 2 adults and 2 children. The steak for the children is usually cooked medium-well.