If you will be travelling to Florence anytime soon, you should prepare your palate for the delight that is Bistecca alla Fiorentina. What makes this meat dish so special is that it is made from only one ingredient; meat alone. It is a T-bone steak that’s at least 3 fingers thick. The meat isn’t from just any cow; it comes from Chianina cows which are found in Tuscany. Because the diet of the cows affects the taste of the meat, they are fed on very specific grasses that grow in the region and nothing else. The cows are left to wander free where only these grasses grow. They are usually slaughtered at the age of 2 years which means that the meat is very tender.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina stems from a centuries old tradition. It came about during celebrations to honor one of the Medici family which ruled for 200 years since the 13th century, Lorenzo de Medici. During the festivities, crowds would gather in the streets around fires and roast large chunks of meat. The tradition was easy to pass down because there were no additional ingredients to confuse people. Today, the meat is in the form of a T-bone steak that is prepared carefully over hot coals.
The quality of a Bistecca alla Fiorentina is determined by the quality of meat. It has to be very tender and it has to be ringed with a little fat. If you decide to prepare this little treat yourself, make sure that the T-bone steak that you choose has a lot of fillet – some butchers trim off fillet to make an extra buck. The best grilling results are achieved with woods such as ash and oak which add a special flavor and aromas to the meat. You don’t need to add salt or oil during the grilling process but once the steak is served, it can be sprinkled with a little olive oil and seasoning. This doesn’t mean that the meat needs any help – it is delicious just without olive oil or seasoning.
Grilling a Bistecca alla Fiorentina is a two step process. First, when the grill has become very hot the meat is placed on it for between 3 and 5 minutes. This is to harden the surface so that it can hold the juices in. After a crust forms, reduce the coals so that you have less heat for passive cooking. The meat is placed on the grill bone first and then roasted slowly. Traditionally, it is eaten rare but there is no reason why you cannot cook it until it is well done if that’s how you like your meat. It is usually served with baked potatoes and red wine.
If you plan to eat Bistecca alla Fiorrentina in a restaurant, you are better off getting recommendations from locals. Although many serve it, there are some that have distinguished themselves for serving excellent quality cuts. In some restaurants, you will even be able to choose a cut yourself and then have it roasted. If you choose this option, make sure you have a lot of time to wait for your Bistecca alla Fiorentina to roast. And if you are cooking it by yourself you can check our guide how to cook bistecca alla Fiorentina.