Updated: Jan 22, 2019
One of the most famous dishes in Florence is La Bistecca alla Fiorentina. It is a thickly cut Chianina beef steak which is grilled rare over a wood fire. You can prepare a version using meat that is available to you locally if you choose Choice or, better yet, Prime grade meat. Ask your butcher to cut a Porterhouse steak at least 2” thick. In this recipe, I used one which was 2-1/2” thick. The thickness allows a nice crust to form on the outside of the steak while the inside remains rare – a prerequisite for La Bistecca alla Fiorentina. If you start with a high quality, well-aged steak and follow the directions below, you’ll be thrilled with the result.
Choice or Prime cut of Porterhouse steak, 2-1/2” thick
Freshly ground salt & pepper
Extra Virgin Olive oil (optional)
Allow meat to come to room temperature (about one hour). If you bought your steak from a good butcher, then it should be rather dry to the touch. If not, blot with a paper towel and leave uncovered while it comes to room temperature.
In Italy wood is the fuel of choice, but a gas grill will do just fine. If you have a smoker box, pre-soaked chips of oak will add the traditional smoky character. Once your grill has reached a medium high heat, place the steak on the grill. Cook for ten minutes on each side. If you like cross-hatched grill marks, place the steak across the grates diagonally, starting at “ten o’clock”. Then, after 5 minutes, rotate the steak to the “two o’clock” position. After a total of 10 minutes cooking time, turn it over and continue cooking until golden on the other side, 10 minutes more, rotating halfway through if you are desiring cross-hatched grill marks. Then turn it on its end (as shown in the photo) and cook for another 5 minutes. (If you cannot get a steak 2-1/2” thick, you will have to adjust these cooking times appropriately.)
Remove from grill, place on a rack and season liberally both sides with freshly ground salt and pepper. Allow to rest uncovered for 10 minutes. This resting is an important step that ensures that the meat will remain juicy when you carve it.
A Florentine steak is never served individually. It is typically carved up for 2 or more people. To carve, first remove the filet and then the contrefilet from the T-bone, then slice each against the grain. Place the bone onto a serving platter and reconstruct the steak, fanning out the slices on each side. Finish by garnishing the platter with lemon wedges and a sprinkle of additional sea salt and a drizzle of evoo.
In Italy la Bistecca alla Fiorentina is always served rare. If you prefer your steak more well done, cook as stated to form the crust, then place onto a cooler part of the grill, and continue cooking to desired doneness.