Before the Italian purists skip past the post, head straight to the recipe and leave a comment saying this is not a traditional Bistecca alla Fiorentina, it is important that I mention I am fully aware that a Bistecca alla Fiorentina in the traditional sense is 1-1.5kg in size and is cooked on a charcoal grill. For this Bistecca alla Fiorentina a casa, I’m offering a version of the dish that you can make easily at home for two, without a charcoal grill.
Well, that’s a significant warning for the purists… I should probably add a warning for vegetarians too – but I suspect they’ve already left us.
My bistecca alla Fiorentina uses a thick-cut mini Fiorentina weighing in at 800g (still cut from the loin) purchased from an incredible Italian butcher here in Sydney (Pino’s Dolce Vita Fine Foods – Grazie Pino) and cooked on a cast iron grill pan. In my defence, this blog is all about making cooking at home more accessible, providing recipes full of flavour, and showcasing wonderful produce.
The signature of a great bistecca alla Fiorentina is one that is both charred and richly coloured on the outside, and evenly rare on the inside. If you don’t like your meat rare, do not attempt this dish. If you are a medium-rare steak eater like me… then try this, as you won’t be disappointed. It is such a wonderful dish it doesn’t need anything aside from a brush of oil and lick of salt – the flavour is all in the meat.
However, there are a number of techniques involved in making this dish stellar and below I’ll lay them out for you so that you too can have a wonderful bistecca alla Fiorentina at home.
A good bistecca alla Fiorentina must begin with a great cut of meat. Buy it from a reputable Italian butcher as you will want the steak to have been aged prior to cooking and have a lovely marbling. This mini fiorentina had been aged by Pino for 5 weeks prior to my purchase.
When you bring it home, do not put it in the freezer! Buy it with the intention to cook it within 7 days. If you intend to cook it within 4 days, then place it in your fridge uncovered and brushed liberally on both sides with olive oil – this will create a natural barrier. Don’t wrap it in plastic as it will make the steak sweat, and in Pino’s words “will choke it”.
If you are going to push it over the 4 days, then Pino suggests adding salt with the olive oil so that the salt can act as a further preserver.
- The bistecca alla Fiorentina must be taken out of the fridge and brought to room temperature prior to cooking. This is the first hurdle as if you rush it, your steak will not be evenly rare.
- It needs to be cooked at a high temperature so the outside chars (you want it to char and not burn) and the inside remains rare. This means it will generate smoke so open all your doors and windows, turn on your ceiling fans and be prepared for any sensitive in home fire alarms to protest.
- To start the cooking, I first place it the steak on the grill pan standing on its bone (like the photo below), this transfers heat through the bone to warm the middle of the steak through first and softens the fat that is marbled through the steak.
- When handling the steak, don’t use an implement that will piece the flesh. Ensure you handle it gently, carefully and minimally – I used plastic ended tongs.
- After cooking, it has to rest. This is so that the fibres can relax and the juices inside can evenly distribute. I do this by putting my oven on the warm setting, wrapping it in foil and allowing it to rest in the warm environment for 8 minutes (800g) or 10-15minutes for a larger cut.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina a Casa | Florentine Steak at home
- 800g mini Fiorentina steak (or a 1Kg Fiorentina steak)
- 2 large sprigs rosemary
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Sea salt flakes, to taste
Heat oven to 150° Celsius (300° Fahrenheit)
Preheat a cast iron grill pan, large enough to fit your Fiorentina steak, over high heat. When the pan is very hot, brush the olive oil onto the base of the pan with the rosemary sprigs.
Place the steak on the grill pan standing on the base of its bone and leave for 12 minutes (15 minutes for a larger cut) to heat the inside of the steak and relax the fat fibres.
Leaving the heat on very high, cook the steak for 4 minutes each side (5-6 minutes for a large cut), turning gently with tongs only once.
Remove from the heat and wrap in foil, then turn your oven off and place the steak in the warmed oven to rest for 10 minutes (12-15 minutes for a large cut).
After resting, cut off the bone and into pieces, then drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and serve.