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Bistecca Fiorentina

Australian Gourmet Traveller classic dish recipe for Bistecca Fiorentina.

By Alice Storey
  • Serves 8
  • 10 mins preparation
  • 30 mins cooking plus soaking, resting
Bistecca Fiorentina
Bistecca Fiorentina

“The bistecca Fiorentina is one of the most supreme physical pleasures in this earthly life. This dish cannot be improved upon nor modernised because it is perfect as is.” Glowing words from Dario Cecchini, the Chianti butcher with a reputation as Italy’s best. This man knows his steak, and with hands almost as large as the dinosaur-sized T-bone he raves about, who are we to argue?

A piece of meat this size is not for the faint-hearted. Nor is it to be consumed solo; even our smaller-than-average version will happily serve two. Italian supermarkets stock this steak at 5cm thick, but such thick cuts aren’t readily available ’round these parts, so ask your butcher to cut it for you, and, while you’re at it, ask for dry-aged. Traditionally, this dish features beef from massive Chianina cattle. Their sheer size means a T-bone can easily exceed 1kg yet still be tender and flavourful.

Make sure you take the meat out of the refrigerator several hours before you plan to start cooking to bring it to room temperature. Bistecca Fiorentina is traditionally cooked over hot coals from red or evergreen oak that have burnt past their hottest point, but a char-grill will suffice. Cook all sides, including the bone side, and rest it in a warm place for at least half the cooking time. While we agree with Cecchini on most procedural points, when it comes to seasoning we must demur. He forbids “salt or other seasoning that would offend this culinary alchemy”, but in our book it’s all about the seasoning – before and after cooking. Cecchini suggests a glass of Chianti in hand during cooking “for courage and inspiration”, and on this we must agree.

Call yourself a carnivore? You’re only a pretender until you’ve tackled the massive bistecca Fiorentina.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg kipfler potatoes, scrubbed, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp (firmly packed) rosemary leaves
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 4 T-bone steaks (400gm each), at room temperature
Salsa verde
  • 200 gm day-old sourdough bread, coarsely torn
  • 150 ml red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups (loosely packed) flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 3 anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp salted capers, rinsed
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil

Method

Main
  • 1
    Preheat oven to 200C. Combine potato, rosemary and 50ml oil in a large roasting tray, mix well, season to taste, then roast, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp (25-30 minutes). Keep warm.
  • 2
    Meanwhile, for salsa verde, combine bread and vinegar in a small bowl and stand until vinegar is almost absorbed (5-7 minutes). Process parsley, anchovy, garlic, capers and bread mixture in a food processor until a coarse paste forms, then stir in oil, season to taste and set aside.
  • 3
    Meanwhile, preheat a large char-grill or barbecue over high heat. Drizzle steaks with remaining oil, season to taste and grill on all sides, including the bone side, until cooked (3-4 minutes on all sides for rare). Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with foil and set aside to rest (10 minutes). Serve steaks with warm potatoes and salsa verde.

Notes

This recipe is from the May 2010 issue of .

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  • Author: Alice Storey