Her Majesty, the Florentine Steak (Bistecca alla Fiorentina)
What is the Florentine steak?
The Florentine steak comes from the loin of the Chianina bovine. It’s the part near the lumbar vertebra, mid-way up the back from the tail. The “t-shaped” bone is in the middle. This is why we also call it the t-bone steak, with a tenderloin on one part and a sirloin on the other. The meat – initially hung for at least two weeks in a cooler room – has to be room temperature when cooked. The cut is about 1 – 1.5 kg and 5-6 cm thick. If you are not big fans of rare meet, this is not for you. Florentine Steak is never actually served well done.
How is the Florentine steak cooked?
A lot of wood embers are used to heat the grill, most preferably oak, holly oak or olive. You need burning embers underneath a thin layer of ash and no flame. The meat is put on the grill with no seasoning, which is fundamental until it gets tougher. It has to be turned over once and cooked for no more than 3-5 minutes. Finally, it’s cooked “standing up” on the side of the bone for 5-7 minutes until there is no trace of blood outside. The Florentine steak has to be thick enough to stand on its edge. It should not be cooked using griddles, gas or electric grills, with firebricks, etc. First the meat has to be placed close to the coals so it quickly forms an aromatic crust. After one minute it has to be moved further away from the fire. Good cooking time is the key to this dish’s flavor. The meat has to have color on the outside and be red, tender and succulent on the inside. It should be hot, but not over-cooked.
The history of the Florentine steak
The history of the Florentine steak is as ancient as the city from which it gets its name and traces of it have gotten lost over time. Its name most likely goes back to the celebration of the San Lorenzo holiday and the Medici family. In occasion of San Lorenzo on August 10, the city lit up from the light of the big bonfires. Large amounts of beef were roasted and handed out to the people. The story goes that some fire-roasted beef was offered to some English horsemen at the San Lorenzo celebrations. They called it beefsteak. From this came bistecca, a translation in the language of that time that we still use today. In the next post I’ll tell you which restaurants in Florence serve the best Florentine steak! See you soon!