Florentine Steak (Bistecca alla Fiorentina): a Bit of History about This Special and Unique Italian Steak

Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a Tuscan steak tradition, is a thick, rare T-bone from Chianina cattle, grilled over wood. Originating in 16th century Florence, it's simple yet unique, served almost charred outside but juicy inside. Often compared to Porterhouse, it's best shared due to its large size.

By Cookist

Pronounced "bee-stek-ah ah-lah fee-oh-ren-tee-nah" in English, the Bistecca alla Fiorentina is more than just a meal; it is a celebration of Tuscan culinary traditions. This iconic steak can be found sizzling on the grates of many restaurants throughout Florence and the wider Tuscany region, revered both for its rich flavors and its cultural significance. But what makes it so famous? Let's delve into the savory world of Florentine steak to uncover its secrets.

What is Florentine Steak?

The Bistecca alla Fiorentina is a thick cut of steak, typically sourced from the loin of a Chianina or Maremmana breed of cattle, two of the oldest cattle breeds in Italy. It includes the T-bone, showcasing both the tenderloin and the sirloin. Traditionally, the steak is seasoned with nothing more than a sprinkle of salt, black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil, then grilled over a wood or charcoal fire to a perfect rare or medium-rare doneness. The simplicity of the ingredients highlights the quality and flavor of the meat itself.


What is Special About This Steak?

The uniqueness of the Bistecca alla Fiorentina lies in its preparation and presentation. It's typically served very rare, almost charred on the outside but still juicy and blood-red in the middle, known as "al sangue." The high cooking heat forms a delicious crust that contrasts with the tender meat inside. The steak is usually presented whole before being sliced, and it is always served on a warm plate to keep the meat hot, allowing diners to savor every bite in its optimal state.

Florentine Steak's History

The origins of Bistecca alla Fiorentina can be traced back to the Medici era in Florence during the 16th century. During the feast of San Lorenzo, large quantities of meat were grilled and distributed among the populace. The tradition continued, and the specific cut of meat evolved into what is now known as the Florentine Steak. This culinary tradition has become a proud symbol of Florentine heritage and an integral part of local festivities.


Porterhouse Vs. Florentine Steak

While similar to the Porterhouse, Bistecca alla Fiorentina has a few key differences. Both steaks include a T-bone with loin and tenderloin meat on either side. However, the Florentine steak is cut thicker and is typically cooked over a wood-fired grill, giving it a distinct flavor influenced by the smoke. In contrast, Porterhouse steaks are more commonly found in the United States and can be prepared in various ways. Regarding the T-bone steak, while similar in appearance, it usually has less tenderloin attached and is not cut as thick as the Florentine steak.

Can One Person Eat a Whole Florentine Steak?

Given that a typical Bistecca alla Fiorentina can weigh anywhere from 1.5 to 4 kilograms (approximately 3.3 to 8.8 pounds), finishing it in one sitting is a formidable challenge for a single diner. It's most commonly shared between several people, making it not just a meal but a communal experience, perfect for enjoying with friends and family over good wine and lively conversation.

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