Friday, May 8, 2009

Florentine Cuisine: Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Many restaurants in Florence specialise in this typical steak, Bistecca a la Fiorentina, also known as Porterhouse steak. If you want to cook at home in your Florence apartment and want to impress, here’s an easy guide to preparing your own Bistecca alla Fiorentina.

Firstly you’ll need the right cuts at the macellaio (butchers). Bistecca alla Fiorentina uses local Chianina beef. These are huge white oxen raised in the Val di Chiana; their meat is tender and full of flavour.

You’ll need about 10 minutes to prepare the steaks and roughly half an hour to cook, depending on how rare or well-done you require the steaks.

Ingredients: Thick Chianina steaks, fresh cracked pepper and salt to taste.

Firstly, place the steaks in a hot grilled frying pan (if you do not have a charcoal grill) and let them sear briefly, then reduce the heat and cook slowly for a few minutes.

As soon as the steak will come off the grill easily, turn it and sprinkle salt over the grilled surface. After a few minutes on the other side, turn it again and apply salt on the surface. The seared surface will act as a barrier against the salt drawing moisture from the steak.

The next two turns of the steak should be for applying the fresh cracked pepper.

What’s important in cooking the steak is the first few minutes on high heat, to seal the exterior, followed by a constant medium heat to allow the steak to cook to your liking.

A 1-inch steak , for example, needs about 10 minutes if you want it rare, or medium about 15 minutes.

A 2-inch steak needs about 20 minutes rare and just over 25 minutes to become medium-cooked.

Bear in mind also that the steak will continue to cook a couple of minutes after you have removed it from the heat, so add a minute or two onto the estimated time for each steak. Also, if the meat has been kept at room temperature, it will cook a little faster.

Bistecca alla Fiorentina is best served in your Florence apartment, on the terrace or balcony, with a lemon wedge, a fresh green salad and a fine bottle of Chianti wine from your nearby enoteca (wine shop).

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