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Steak-- Florentine Style


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I'm thinking of making this on Saturday for four people.

Recipes? On the grill? Sear in a pan? What cut? What would you serve with it?

I need the kind of sage advice only eGullet can provide.

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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Thick (2 - 3 inch) T-bone steak, rubbed with rosemary, salt and pepper. Preferably on the grill, but a hot heavy pan will work, to medium rare. Remove, drizzle with best extra virgin olive oil. Let it rest then carve and serve with sauteed garlicky spinach and some roasted potatoes.

Elie

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E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Could you expand on what you mean? I'm not sure if this is 1) A specific cut in the (US?), 2) Bistecca alla Fiorentina or 3) with spinach. :smile:

I assume no.2. The way I have seen it done is either on an outdoor grill over a charcol fire or indoors in a special steak holding thing, infront of a open fire. Based with olive oil, sprinkled with a bit of salt and that is pretty much it.

It is basically a big fuck off T-bone*, several a couple of inches thich and over a kilo in weight. The impotant bit is that it must be very tender steak. You don't want no two inch thick tough steak. They have special cows for this in Tuscany, can you get special cow?

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Elie's got it right, though the rosemary's optional. Some recipes tell you to marinate the steak in — or brush it with — olive oil before grilling. Don't. The oil is a seasoning and the heat destroys its flavour.

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In agreement with everyone above but would like to add that the famous quality of Florentine steak is that it comes from Chiannina steers...which are grass-fed cattle. If you can somehow obtain grass-fed beef, you will be closer to the actuality...the only other thing I've seen is that often it is advised to squeeze a lemon over it at the end.

So let's see...if you can purchase a farm, grow some grass fed cattle, butcher them correctly, install a wood-burning grill, all before this weekend...hey! You're all set... :wink:

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Adding a few minor comments. Yes, the EVOO is a seasoning so have some high test stuff. Some also drizzle lemon and shave reggiano over the steak.

The only cut is T-bone, and thick T-bone at that.

And grill it.

And slice before serving -- you don't serve people a hunk o' steak.

Rosemary is an option, yes. But it is one that does get exercised.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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Could you expand on what you mean? I'm not sure if this is 1) A specific cut in the (US?), 2) Bistecca alla Fiorentina or 3) with spinach. :smile:

I assume no.2. The way I have seen it done is either on an outdoor grill over a charcol fire or indoors in a special steak holding thing, infront of a open fire. Based with olive oil, sprinkled with a bit of salt and that is pretty much it.

It is basically a big fuck off T-bone*, several a couple of inches thich and over a kilo in weight. The impotant bit is that it must be very tender steak. You don't want no two inch thick tough steak. They have special cows for this in Tuscany, can you get special cow?

Your assumption on 2 is correct. I'll request a big fuck off T-bone from a special cow when I go to the butcher here in Washington DC. A good one should know what I'm after. I assume a Porterhouse will suffice if a T isn't available. I have some excellent EVOO fortunately.

Any good ideas on side dishes?

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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Any good ideas on side dishes?

Garlicky spinach and roasted potatos???? :wink:

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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One of the best things about Marcella Hazan's The Classic Italian Cookbook is the menu suggestions at the end of each recipe, which were dropped from the conflated new edition, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (for space reasons, one assumes). Here's what she suggests for steak grilled the Florentine way:

A fiorentina fits perfectly into any American steak dinner. In an Italian menu it might be preceded by any of the bean or chick-pea soups, by Pappardelle with Chicken-Liver Sauce, Risotto with Parmesan Cheese, or, skipping the first course, by Artichokes Roman Style [stuffed with parsley, mint and garlic], or Fava Beans Roman Style [cooked in olive oil with sautéed onion and guanciale/pancetta]. The vegetable accompaniment (if you started with a soup or pasta), can be Sautéed Peas with Prosciutto, Florentine Style, Sautéed Spinach, or Sliced Zucchini with Garlic and Tomatoes. In Florence, in the spring, the salad would be green bean salad.

By the way, her recipe for la fiorentina calls for pressing cracked peppercorns into the meat before grilling and includes the admonition "a fiorentina should be very rare." Not surprisingly there's no mention of rosemary or parmesan; actually this thread is the first time I've heard of the latter.

edit: Hazan doesn't mention lemon, either. Are parmesan and lemon as garnishes a North American thing?

Edited by carswell (log)
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One of the best things about Marcella Hazan's The Classic Italian Cookbook is the menu suggestions at the end of each recipe, which were dropped from the conflated new edition, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (for space reasons, one assumes). Here's what she suggests for steak grilled the Florentine way:
A fiorentina fits perfectly into any American steak dinner. In an Italian menu it might be preceded by any of the bean or chick-pea soups, by Pappardelle with Chicken-Liver Sauce, Risotto with Parmesan Cheese, or, skipping the first course, by Artichokes Roman Style [stuffed with parsley, mint and garlic], or Fava Beans Roman Style [cooked in olive oil with sautéed onion and guanciale/pancetta]. The vegetable accompaniment (if you started with a soup or pasta), can be Sautéed Peas with Prosciutto, Florentine Style, Sautéed Spinach, or Sliced Zucchini with Garlic and Tomatoes. In Florence, in the spring, the salad would be green bean salad.

By the way, her recipe for la fiorentina calls for pressing cracked peppercorns into the meat before grilling and includes the admonition "a fiorentina should be very rare." Not surprisingly there's no mention of rosemary or parmesan; actually this thread is the first time I've heard of the latter.

edit: Hazan doesn't mention lemon, either. Are parmesan and lemon as garnishes a North American thing?

I have a Hazan somewhere on my shelf. Excellent ideas-- I'll dig up the cookbook.

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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I've used guidelines by Guiliano Bugialli in his Foods of Tuscany when making this and it came out great.

Nice hot grill with no flame...

Start with thick t-bones as mentioned above ~ 3 " thick)- no oil or salt and pepper at this point. In fact, Bugialli says, "The meat is not marinated and no butter or oil is used". Pretty sure that rosemary or parmesean is not in the 'classic' prep either.

Use tongs (so as not to pierce the meat) to place meat (close to RT) on grill.

Cook 4-5 minutes or until brown crust forms.

Salt the side facing up; then turn and cook 4-5 min.

Turn steak over one more time and cook 4-5 min.

Steaks should still be quite rare. Remove to platter and add pepper.

Serve with lemon wedges to be serves w/the steak. (The lemon adds a great taste that blends in really well with the other flavors).

This turns out really well!!!

I really like the idea of tuscan white beans with it as DaleJ suggested. Simple and delicious; no distraction from the steak. Maybe a green salad after the meat course.

Though I'm sure this is not authentic, if you have a second person to man the stove; another excellent side dish is a tomato risotto. (oops--I see that Marcella actually recommends a risotto as a possibility!)

Most important to me also, is to have a great big red wine with the meal.

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Most important to me also, is to have a great big red wine with the meal.

Thanks for the detailed advice! YES, a big fat wine will be served!

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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I'd say the best way to go would be to get the thickest porterhouse or t-bone you can get (2 - 3 inches). Then grill the steak (duh!). Let it rest (duh again!). Cut it into pieces and drizzle with very best, peppery Tuscan extra virgin olive oil. Sauteed greens would be a wonderful side, keeping in mind that Italians don't tend to have a lot of side-dishes with the main event -- especially starchy ones. FWIW, I've had probably several dozen Fiorentine in my day, and none of them had the slightest hint of rosemary.

That's probably about as close as you can get in America. When you're cooking something as elemental as steak, differences in the source ingredients can make a huge difference. As others have pointed out, bistecca alla fiorentina is made with beef from chianina cows. These cows are slaughtered at a younger age than American cows. The beef is not as fatty and marbled as good American beef. They are fed a special diet. I'm not sure the steaks are extensively dry aged like the best American beef. The result is a flavor and texture that is completely unlike American beef. Unless you can source someone who is raising Chianina beef in America and trying to mimic the whole process top-to-bottom, it's highly likely that the best you can do is approximate the experience to about the same degree as one might approximate Japanese style kobe beef with dry aged American Black Angus. Which is to say, something that's totally delicious but fundamentally only reminiscent of the real thing.

I've done this at home a few times, and have always enjoyed it -- as I'm sure you will too.

pmathus: what makes it "Florentine" is the whole thing I described above. One cannot really obtain Chianina beef raised, fed, slaughtered and butchered as it is around Florence anywhere else.

--

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Thanks slkinsey for bringing up a lot of good points---I need to try the olive oil drizzle (after cooking!) next time.

It would seem like either the lemon juice or olive oil are "authentic". Bugialli is from Florence and seems to strive for "authentic" recipes. I bring it up not to argue which is "more" authentic but it's interesting to hear of both methods. Have you ever had it with lemon?

When we were in Florence, most places were not serving Bistecca al Fiorentina b/c of the mad cow scare.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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That's probably about as close as you can get in America. When you're cooking something as elemental as steak, differences in the source ingredients can make a huge difference. As others have pointed out, bistecca alla fiorentina is made with beef from chianina cows. These cows are slaughtered at a younger age than American cows. The beef is not as fatty and marbled as good American beef. They are fed a special diet. I'm not sure the steaks are extensively dry aged like the best American beef. The result is a flavor and texture that is completely unlike American beef. Unless you can source someone who is raising Chianina beef in America and trying to mimic the whole process top-to-bottom, it's highly likely that the best you can do is approximate the experience to about the same degree as one might approximate Japanese style kobe beef with dry aged American Black Angus. Which is to say, something that's totally delicious but fundamentally only reminiscent of the real thing.

I had the real deal once when visiting Italy, though I was somewhat ignorant at the time of the fact that this was a whole different breed-- I just thought the difference was due to it being grass-fed.

A well prepared approximation will do just fine until the next trip to Italy can be arranged. :wink:

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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Coarse-grained sea salt sprinkled over the meat, while not traditional to the recipe, is a nice touch.

When I make it I go as thick as possible--3-3 1/2 lbs in one piece, and use porterhouse. Cook it rare and carve it almost like a roast and serve.

Soak rosemary branches and toss them over the coals as the meat cooks if you don't want it on the steak. Olive oil and lemon juice are amazingly effective condiments for the finished product. (Though when I ordered it in a restaurant in Florence and asked for lemon I got a funny look). I'd avoid a pasta and maybe do stewed cannellini beans or roasted potatoes instead. I usually do a mess of mushrooms cooked in olive oil and garlic and that compliments the meal well also.

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A well prepared approximation will do just fine until the next trip to Italy can be arranged. :wink:

Yes, povero Alino. You'll have to suffer with plain old dry aged American prime. :biggrin:

--

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Soak rosemary branches and toss them over the coals as the meat cooks if you don't want it on the steak.

My Florentine friends would insist it's not the same unless grilled over vine cuttings. :rolleyes:

:whatever:

--

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Not surprisingly there's no mention of rosemary or parmesan; actually this thread is the first time I've heard of the latter.

edit: Hazan doesn't mention lemon, either. Are parmesan and lemon as garnishes a North American thing?

My reference is 'Northern Italian Cooking" by Francesco Ghedini. Out of print now but a great book if you ever see it somewhere...

No, he does not mention the rosemary or Parmesan but does mention the lemon.

I am not sure in describing the cut of meat if he was as verbose, and with such a catchy phrase! as in the previous threads, but the cut was the same and this new phrase is quite pithy...so we can all picture exactly what is meant here....

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ok, so i guess i don't get it.  it sounds like "florentine" means grilled steak??!!  What makes it "florentine", the lemon wedges and the oil?

Yes, it's the beef. But it's also the cut, the cooking method and the garnish. T-bones, grilled rare, garnished only with a drizzle of EVOO (typically Tuscan in its austerity; elsewhere, it'd be a green herb or red tomato sauce): where else but Florence?

edit: clarity

Edited by carswell (log)
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