One must-try dish for any meat-eating foodie visiting Florence is the famous Bistecca alla Fiorentina.
Enjoyed since the Etruscan and Roman times, this top cut is made from one of the oldest cattle breeds in the world, the white Chianina, that are kept in large, open fields in the Tuscan countryside. And whilst there have been attempts in the past to expert this special Tuscan cattle breed, the results have never been as good as when the breed is allowed to roam the terrain it has wandered for thousands of years.
As with most traditional Tuscan recipes, there are some simple secrets to cooking the perfect Florentine steak.
Firstly, the steak must be taken from the T-bone loin in one sharp cut. Each steak is around 800-1200 grams and about as thick as two fingers.
It should be cooked over a wood-fired flame, fanned to just the right temperature before the Florentine Steak is placed on the grill. Under no circumstances should live flames touch the meat. The Bistecca should be cooked on each side, being turned only once. The exact number of minutes will depend on the weight of the steak.
One cooked, the Florence steak is allowed to rest so the juices balance out throughout the meat. It is then served whole, usually on a wooden chopping board, as a main to be divided up between two or three people. It may be lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil drizzled atop. Some like to squeeze a little lemon juice on there too.
The Bistecca alla Fiorentina is served pretty rare. There is no such thing as asking for it to be well done, with most chefs suggesting that if you don’t like rare stake, have the salad instead.
Common sides served with the Florentine steak are garden salads or grilled vegetables. Florence is also great at spinach dishes so a side of Spinaci is well advised too.
And of course, don’t forget a good, strong wine. Best would be the Brunello di Montalcino or another strong Tuscan wine like a Chianti Classico Riserva, keeping in mind that wines and recipes have evolved together within each region of Italy.