This grilled beef with rosemary and capers is simple to prepare and full of flavor. The olive oil–seasoned with garlic, rosemary, and black pepper–acts as a rub and a dressing. The balsamic reduction adds just the right amount of acid.
This dish epitomizes the best of Italian cooking — just a few great ingredients treated simply, but the result is unforgettable. I still remember the first time I had this at a roadside trattoria. Like all Italian recipes, this has infinite variations, so here’s my version. Tagliata, from the Italian tagliare, means “carved” or “cut.” The meat is cut into thin slices, which produces a lot more surface area on which to drizzle seasoned oil or condiments.–John Ash
☞ Table of Contents
Grilled Beef with Rosemary and Capers
- 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 large garlic cloves thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary leaves
- 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper (see Notes)
- 1 1/2 pounds New York strip steak or sirloin about 2 inches thick, excess fat removed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 cups lightly packed tender young arugula
- Reduced balsamic vinegar (see Notes)
- 3 tablespoons fried capers (see Notes)
- Lemon wedges
- Prepare a charcoal fire or preheat a gas or stovetop grill. In a small saucepan over low heat, cook 2/3 cup of the olive oil and the garlic until the garlic is lightly browned and beginning to crisp. Take the pan off the heat, stir in the rosemary and cracked pepper, set aside, and keep warm.
- Rub the steak liberally with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and generously with salt and pepper. Grill the steak over high heat until rare to medium rare. (If you do this on the stovetop with a ridged grill pan, you’ll need plenty of ventilation!) Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes or so. This allows the juices to “retreat” back into the meat and redistribute themselves.
- Spread the arugula on a serving platter. Slice the steak thinly across the grain. Arrange the meat on top of the arugula and pour the warm seasoned oil over the meat. Drizzle with reduced balsamic vinegar and scatter fried capers over all. Serve with lemon wedges.
Cracked peppercorn:To get the right consistency, put the peppercorns in a clean envelope or fold of waxed paper and smack it with something heavy.
Reduced balsamic vinegar:Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for and a useful restaurant trick well worth knowing. Boil some balsamic vinegar, uncovered, over high heat, until it is reduced by a little more than half — say, 60 percent. As it cools, it will thicken into a syrup that can be drizzled over all manner of things. Its advantage over straight-out-of-the-bottle balsamic is that in this state, it “stays put.” It can be stored at room temperature almost indefinitely.
Fried capers:When capers are fried, they take on a different flavor and texture that I really like. Drain the capers well, pat dry with paper towels, and then fry them in small batches in about 1/4 inch of hot olive oil until the buds begin to open and are lightly browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Can be done a few hours in advance.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Just got back from a walk. The subject of conversation? This grilled beef with rosemary and capers. Seriously.
I really enjoy infusing oil with various flavors, and this was a real winner, as it contained garlic, fresh rosemary, and cracked black pepper. Part of it is rubbed onto the meat prior to grilling; the remainder is reserved to drizzle over the meat once done. We grilled the meat to a perfect medium-rare, sliced it thinly, and placed it on a bed of arugula, drizzled the warm flavored oil, squeezed fresh lemon juice over all, and drizzled on reduced balsamic.
Wait — not quite done! What really made this dish, in my opinion, was the FRIED CAPERS. When they fry, they open up and turn slightly brown and crispy. They were scattered on top. All sorts of things going on in this dish — the delicious oil, the salty crunch of capers, sweet and tart balsamic, and acidic lemon. The arugula added a peppery note. We also sprinkled on fleur de sel. Talk about a balanced dish! I am going to buy a big jar of capers and fry them up to sprinkle them on all sorts of things in the future. LOVED them.
Originally published March 23, 2004