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)
- 4 Very thick steaks porterhouse 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.
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.
Other Italian meat recipes: