When you think of a steak, what comes to mind? It is unlikely that one of the first in my head the thought of Italy. Although we do not always associate this food with Italian cuisine, it cannot be denied that the Florentine steak (Bistecca Fiorentina) has become one of the most beloved meat dishes both in Tuscany and around the world. It is a symbol of culinary excellence in Florence (Firenze). Every year, thousands of tourists come to the Tuscan capital to taste the famous meat.
Where can I try a real and delicious Florentine steak, and why is it so popular? You will find answers to these and other questions in our article.
The origins of the Florentine steak are lost in the mists of time. In Italy they say that the dish and the city can be considered peers. But the history of the name is connected with the Medici family, who ruled in Florence and Tuscany between the 15th and 18th centuries.
According to some researchers, the Florentine steak spread throughout Italy only in the 1800s, again thanks to the British. Living in Tuscany, they got so used to the local delicacy that they cooked it, even moving to another region of the republic.
After the unification of Italy, in 1870, the name also spread throughout the country. And Pellegrino Artusi (Pellegrino Artusi) has contributed to the establishment of the classic recipe.
It is hard to imagine, but the Florentine steak has been absent on the tables of Italians for almost 5 years since 2001. This was due to the ban on sales of beef with bone in the European Union to eliminate the risk of spread of rabies. After the normalization of the situation in agriculture, the decision was canceled. The steak in Florentine again took pride of place on the Tuscan grills.
Chianin Cow Breed
The graceful, but at the same time powerful Chianina breed of cattle, also called Chianina, is the secret of Italian delicacy.
Cows from the Val di Chiana Valley, located between the Tuscan provinces of Arezzo and Siena and the Umbrian provinces of Perugia and Terni, are considered one of the most muscular on Earth. The record for the "hardest representative of cattle in the world" belongs to a bull of this breed. His name was Donetto and he weighed 1,750 kg.
In addition to muscularity, “Kians” are distinguished by elegance and have been appreciated for many centuries. In the past, they were mainly involved in the fields, as they performed heavy work without much effort.
Much earlier, the Romans and Etruscans honored the Kiana breed for its beautiful white "robe" and excellent dressing. In triumphal processions, the Kiani bulls marched. For the purity of their color, they were often sacrificed to the gods at important ceremonies.
To date, in Marche and Emilia-Romagna, in addition to Chianin cows, meat of individuals of the Maremmana breed is allowed to cook Florentine steak, if only their age is in the range from 12 to 24 months.
After cutting, the steak has a classic T-shape, similar to a heart, with a small layer of fat. The thickness of a piece of meat is equal to the width of 3-4 fingers or at least 4-5 cm. It goes without saying that depending on the size of a serving of beef its weight will vary. In any case, it should not be less than 800 g.
In the United States there are twin cities of Florentine dishes - T-Bone steaks and Porterhouse. For both the first and second, the meat is cut from the middle of the lumbar part of the animal. They are distinguished by the thickness of a piece of beef: for T-Bon - at least 1.3 cm, for Porterhouse steak - at least 3.2 cm.
How to cook
The perfect Florentine steak is made from well-seasoned beef. The minimum ripening period is 15 days.
Gourmets prefer meat with aging for 30 days or more.
During ripening, biochemical processes occur that change the structure of the meat, make it much more tender and aromatic. Excess moisture evaporates, the weight of the product leaves. For this reason, seasoned beef usually costs more than fresh.
Meat ripening is carried out using professional equipment. Self-exposure at home can be very dangerous, since the raw product is an excellent substrate for the propagation of bacteria invisible to the naked eye.
Before cooking, beef is taken out of the refrigerator for 3-4 hours, so that its temperature can reach room temperature. This measure prevents a decrease in degrees of heat upon first contact with meat. Otherwise, you get the effect of a cooked dish without a characteristic crust.
A large amount of charcoal (oak or olive tree) is used as a heat source. Coals should be live, hot, but without an open flame.
Initially, the meat is put very close to the coals so that a deliciously crispy crust forms as soon as possible. Literally after 1 minute, the steak is raised higher. After 3-5 minutes (no more), the meat is turned over and the procedure for the second side is repeated. In the final, it is prepared by "standing" on the side of the bone, for 5-7 minutes, until the traces of blood disappear.
But there is another school for cooking Florentine steak, which denies the stage of frying meat in the "standing" position. In addition, there are two practices in using seasoning for beef. Some cooks categorically do not accept the preliminary ambassador of the fillet, while others fry, pre-seasoning beef with salt.
Perfect Florentine steak is crispy, fried on the outside and red, soft, juicy inside. The core of the fillet is warm, but not cooked, called in Italian al sangue - with blood. For this reason, meat cannot be turned over with a fork during frying. Using sharp kitchen utensils, it is easy to destroy the crust that forms at the beginning of the process and lose the internal juices of the dish.
There is another way to cook a Florentine steak called reverse searing, which translates to reverse firing. The meat is heated in a barbecue or in a conventional oven to a temperature of about 50 degrees (inside). Then the fillet is placed in a pre-heated grill or in a hot frying pan (preferably cast iron). And fried on both sides to a characteristic brown crust.
Before serving, the dish is allowed to "rest" for 4-5 minutes, seasoned with pepper, salt and watered with a trickle of olive oil.
What to eat with
Connoisseurs prefer to eat Florentine steak without "accompaniment", because they concentrate their taste buds only on it. But most people accompany the dish with a side dish.
For the first time, we strongly recommend not combining steak with boiled, fried or baked potatoes in order to avoid premature saturation and dull taste sensations.
The best accompaniment for meat dishes is a simple salad, for example, from fresh carrots. Another option is grilled vegetables: zucchini, eggplant and pepper, seasoned with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. They do not burden food intake, serve as a source of vitamins and antioxidants necessary to counteract the opposite effect of red meat.
What alcohol goes with steak? Without a doubt, roast beef with such an impressive and predominant taste, juicy and spicy, needs a great rich red wine with tangible tannins and a sufficient alcohol content. It is better to opt for: Brunello di Montalcino (Brunello di Montalcino), Barbaresco (Barbaresco), Barolo (Barolo) or the young Chianti Classico (Chianti Classico). A cheaper option is Aglianico del Vulture from Basilicata.
Calorie content and benefits
The calorie content of the Florentine steak is approximately 230-260 kcal per 100 g and consists of:
- Proteins - 19-22 g
- Fats - 17-18 g
Carbohydrates in the product are completely absent, since muscle glycogen is destroyed during the ripening period of meat. Beef in this form is an excellent source of proteins with high biological value, as well as vitamin PP, iron and potassium, which are responsible for the work of the cardiovascular system.
People suffering from gout and hyperlipidemia should be careful when consuming a steak.
Doctors recommend including a portion of 150-200 g in their diet no more than 1 time per week.
Where to try
Remember that Florentine steak is a huge piece of meat. Therefore, it is assumed that the dish will be common to several people. Even people with a good appetite can not cope with the entire portion on their own.
In some restaurants you can see the process of making your grilled steak. As a rule, the price is set not for a portion, but for 1 kg of food. It ranges from 40 to 60 euros.
In July 2019, according to a survey in which the Florentines themselves participated, a rating of 10 restaurants in the city was compiled, which served the best Florentine steak.
- Ristorante Il Latini (via dei Palchetti, 6 / R) is one of the historical restaurants of Florence. Every tourist is simply obliged to visit him at least once.
- Trattoria Pandemonio (via del Leone, 50 / R) - an authentic establishment. It is always filled with visitors. Therefore, it is better to book a table in advance or come to the opening.
- I 'Brindellone (piazza Piattellina, 10) - an institution located in the heart of authentic Florence. Reasonable prices, large portions and a pleasant atmosphere will not leave you indifferent.
- Ristorante il Parione (via Parione, 74/76 R) - a cozy restaurant. The prices for steak are higher than in other establishments, but the dish is served immediately with a side dish.
- Ristorante Perseus (viale Don Minzoni, 10 / R) is the most visited restaurant in Florence. It is a few steps from Piazza della Liberta. Despite the fact that the institution specializes in meat, it is also possible to taste excellent first courses and desserts.
- Trattoria Za 'Za' (il Mercato Centrale, 26 / R) is a very popular restaurant. Reservations should be made in advance. In addition to traditional Tuscan dishes, the menu pleases Russian cuisine.
- All'Antico Ristoro di Cambi (via S.Onofrio, 1 / R) - a cozy atmosphere, simple serving and affordable prices in addition to an incredibly tasty steak will be an excellent occasion for a second visit to the restaurant.
- Trattoria dall'Oste (via dei Cerchi, 40 / R) - the highlight of trattoria is a refrigerator display case with meat as a room decor. Their incredible steak is one of the reasons for the frequent queues at the entrance to the institution.
- Mattacena (via del Moro, 85 / R) - This restaurant is mainly designed for tourists. A small number of visitors, average prices and quick service are the obvious advantages of this establishment.
- Trattoria da Burde (via Pistoiese, 154) - a piece of the history of Florence. Opened at the beginning of the twentieth century. The restaurant presents not only all the dishes typical of Tuscan cuisine, but also a wide range of wines.
Outside Tuscany, it is difficult to taste real meat in Florentine, but outside Italy it is impossible. For example, in Moscow, today there is not a single restaurant whose menu would have represented Chianin breed meat.
I recommend an original gastronomic tour in Florence to all lovers of delicious food - immerse yourself in 3 hours and learn all the secrets of Tuscan traditional dishes. Travel hearty and remember: "No matter how savvy a tourist is, a good guide is savvy much better!"