Beefsteak Florentine Style
Bistecca alla Fiorentina
As a rule, Italians don't eat big pieces of meat, especially cooked al sangue(rare). But in Tuscany the Bistecca alla Fiorentina is revered. The dish seems to have its origins with the many people from Northern Europe who fell in love with the countryside around Florence and decided to move to Tuscany. In fact, so many English relocated to the Chianti area that is has been dubbed "Chiantishire." The preparation of the steak is very simple. The real secret to this dish lies in selecting the best steak possible. Bistecca alla Fiorentina is made with a very thick Porterhouse steak, which is similar to a T-bone steak, but with a larger cross section of the tenderloin (filet mignon) along one side of the "T". If possible, select a prime or top choice steak that has been aged properly for two to three weeks. The steak isnt seasoned at all before cooking, but afterward, while its resting, I rub it with a mixture of anchovy, rosemary and coarse sea salt and allow that mixture to gently seep into the meat.
Makes 4 (generous) servings
One porterhouse steak, preferably aged 2 to 3 weeks, 2 to 3 inches thick, weighing about 3 pounds
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
6 anchovy fillets
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed
Remove the steak to room temperature 2 to 3 hours before cooking it.
Strip the leaves from the rosemary sprigs and chop them coarsely. Combine the rosemary, anchovies and salt in a mortar and crush them with a pestle to a coarse paste. Drizzle in enough of the oil, while continuing to grind the mixture with the pestle, until the mixture is thin enough to spread smoothly. Set aside.
Light a hardwood charcoal fire in a grill and place the grill rack about 4 inches from the
heat. When the flames have died down and the coals are glowing bright red, place the steak over the heat. Allow it cook, without moving it, until the underside is well browned 8 to 9 minutes. Turn the steak with tongs and cook until the second side is well browned and the meat is rare at the thickest part close to the bone. The meat should fell springy to the touch. (If you like, you may judge the doneness of the steak with an instant reading meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the steak close to the bone. The steak is cooked rare when the thermometer reads 120° F.) Transfer the steak to a carving board. Rub a generous amount of the anchovy mixture into both sides of the steak and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before carving.
To carve and serve the steak, first cut the meat away from both sides of the T-bone. Cut
each piece of meat on a slight angle into 1/2-inch slices. Reform the slices and place them back next to the bone. Bring the steak to the table like this, right on the board and serve slices from the board.