I have been to Tuscany several times during my childhood. However, I don’t remember much about those trips, but each time I’m Florence I remember a particular meal I had with my parents. Because it was an outstanding piece of meat – rich, tasty with meat so tender that you could cut it with a spoon! So when you go to Florence, take care to choose a reputable restaurant because there are plenty of fakes out there.
WHAT IS BISTECCA ALLA FIORENTINA?
The secret of the meat lies in the breed of cattle – the Chianina cattle – they are the huge white oxen that are raised near Arezzo in the Valdichiana. The steaks are huge and because of the size of the animal, a steak can easily way 2 ½ kg. Of course, if you don’t live in Florence and can’t get hold of this breed, go to your local butcher and choose the best meat they have – enjoy!
Bistecca Alla Fiorentina Recipe (Florentine Steak)
Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Steak Florentine) is probably the most famous Italian meat recipe.
4Very thick steaksporterhouse of T-bone & look for a steak that’s just under a kg and cut about 4 cm thick
Top quality sea salt – like Fleur de Sel de Guérande
Searing hot coals made from a hard wood
Freshly cracked pepper
PREPARE THE GRILL
Make sure the coals are quite hot – you should not be able to hold your hand over the coals for more than about 4 seconds; put the grill about 10cm over the coals and let it heat up.
PREPARE THE STEAK
If the steak comes right out of the fridge, it will cook a little longer than something that is, already, at room temperature – I like meat cooked from room temperature. For the perfect steak florentine, leave the steak at room temperature for at least 30 minutes prior cooking it.
COOK THE BISTECCA ALLA FIORENTINA
Pop the steak onto the grill so that it can sear & then lift the grill but don’t move the steak; it can only be flipped once it comes off the grill easily – flip it off & onto a plate and salt liberally (you’re salting the seared side so that the salt can’t draw out the excess moisture) and then pop the other side onto the grill.
Continue in this fashion: a few minutes on, flip, lightly pepper, salt, flip and so on – you know the drill.
It’s very important that the heat remains constant so fan the coals back to life if the look as if they’re going to die (which they shouldn’t if you’ve made a decent fire).
It should cook in a few minutes & when the steak is done it should still be rare – but it’s all a matter of taste.
Slice it with the best kitchen knife you have. Serve a with a little pat of butter or olive oil and with a lemon wedge & a tossed green salad, a dish of simply boiled cannellini beans and served with olive oil, salt and pepper and good Chianti Classico Riserva or a Brunello.
To check whether meat is ready, use your fingers to prod the meat: when rare, it will feel soft and squishy; medium-rare should be only lightly bouncy and well done will feel much firmer (you should not cook a Fiorentina to this stage) – someone told me the following once and whilst I don’t bother with it much, it may help you:
Press gently near the base of the thumb (the fleshy bit called the mound of Venus) with the index finger of the other hand – that’s what rare meat feels like.
Press in the center of the palm: medium.
Press at the outside edge of the hand at the pinkie knuckle: well done.