“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.