Bistecca alla Fiorentina
Bistecca ala Fiorentina is a true Tuscan treat. My first taste was at theamazing Antica Osteria da Divo in Siena. Beautiful, rare steak with a rich herb crust that melts in your mouth. Pricey (but worth it!) in a restaurant, it is not much cheaper to make at home due to the quality and cut of meat. This is one of those dishes where it's all about the ingredient. There is no hiding or obfuscation of the star of the dish; a huge, juicy porterhouse steak, grilled to perfection with a bit of oil, rosemary and salt.
In Tuscany, a true Bistecca alla Fiorentina is made using beef from the Chianina breed of cattle. This spectacular cow is enormous, nearly 6 feet tall and weighing in at 1500 pounds, and is specially bred for the purpose of this dish. In America, however, we have some amazing beef as well, particularly the Black Angus and the up and coming Wagu beef modeled on Kobe beef.
If you are making this dish, you WILL spend a minimum of $30 - $40 on the steak, do yourself a favor, spend an extra $10 and make sure it is farm raised, grass fed Black Angus, local if possible. The difference in taste is remarkable.
So, all this talk, blah blah blah, how do we make this amazing steak, Russ!?!?!
Ok, here goes, this is sooooo simple, the only difficulty is in not over cooking the meat, it has to be rare, make sure you have a good, instant read thermometer.
- Porterhouse steak (3 - 4 fingers thick, about 3 inches, the best you can afford)
- 4 large sprigs of rosemary, chopped
- Cracked black pepper
Rub the steak LIBERALLY with kosher salt, all over, and allow to come up to room tempeature for at least 1/2 hour, preferably 2 hours. The salt will begin to break down the proteins on the outside of the steak, tenderize the inside of the steak as the salt moves into it and allow the next few ingredients to penetrate. The steak will not be salty. If your steak is fresh and of good quality, sitting out for an hour or two should not pose a "food handling" issue. If, however, leaving a steak out for 2 hours makes you nervous, or you have dogs, let it sit in the refrigerator for this step.
Once the salt has disappeared (it soaks in), coat the steak in olive oil, and rub the rosemary on both sides of the steak, along with (yes) a sprinkling of yet more salt and let it sit for 15 minutes. If you were nervous about leaving your steak out, let the steak sit out and come up to room temperature by extending the timing on this step to 1/2 hour. Remember, if you have dogs, remain vigilant.
Over a very hot fire of at least 400 degrees (charcoal and wood is traditional, but I routinely use a gas grill) sear the steak on both sides for 5 minutes, then, carefully stand it on the bone for an additional 5 - 7 minutes. If you cannot stand your steak on the bone, turn the heat down a bit and cook for an additional 2 -3 minutes on each side. An instant read thermometer in the center of the thickest part of the steak should read 120 - 125 degrees. (But wait Russ, my books say rare is 135 degrees! I know, a steak will "cook" an additional 10 degrees, internal temperature, after removing it from the heat. This means, that after the resting step below, your steak will have "cooked" the rest of the way.)
Let the steak sit for 15 minutes under foil then cut each of the steaks away from the bone and slice into 1/2 inch slices and serve. Be sure everyone gets a bit of the strip steak AND the tenderloin.
I like to serve this steak with a huge red wine; Barolo, Brunello or a Vino Nobile and some fingerling potatoes roasted with rosemary, salt and olive oil. (are you sensing a theme?) And with this kind of a meal, vegetables are optional, enjoy being a carnivore.
Well, there you have it. I took a lot of words to tell you to slather a steak in salt, rosemary and oil and throw it on the grill, but when working with an ingredient this expensive you want to get it right.
I'd love to get your feedback if you have tried this recipe and what you thought of it or, if you have done this on your own, what do you do different? Leave a comment!