Florentine T-bone steak in Tuscany is a genuine institution, and is first and foremost a cultural symbol.
Its history itself attests to this. Its tradition and name can be traced back to the Medici family and commemoration of the Feast of San Lorenzo.
On this particular occasion, on August 10th every year, numerous bonfires were lit throughout the city to roast large quantities of meat.
So how did “bistecca alla fiorentina” or Florentine T-bone steak get its name?
During the rule of the Medici, Florence served as an important hub for travellers coming from all over Italy and abroad.
According to legend, several English knights were in town for the San Lorenzo celebration and were thus able to try the meat that had been specially prepared.
They then coined the meat they were eating as “beef steak”.
The term “beef steak” was then translated to “bistecca”, and in Italy is still referred to as such to this day.
Others, however, claim that although the term has English origins, it is unrelated to the feast of San Lorenzo.
They believe the Italian term is simply borrowed from “beef steak” or “roast beef”, referring to the prized meat cuts that these affluent people could afford to eat.
Florentine T-bone steak
Authentic Florentine T-bone steaks are normally obtained from steers or heifers. The loin, or the part of the animal corresponding to the lumbar vertebrae, is the cut of choice.
The middle has a T-shaped bone, with the fillet on one side and sirloin on the other.
The meat must be cut from Bos genus of the Taurus species, i.e., an ox or steer, designated as Bos Taurus (cattle).
There are numerous Bos Taurus breeds, but Chianina is the most preferred in honour of the Florentine T-bone steak’s origins.
The cut of meat must have certain distinct qualities:
- Proper slaughtering: the procedure must allow as much blood to drain off as possible, because retaining it in the muscles would alter the flavour of the meat;
- Cutting: the integrity and trimming of the whole loin from which the steaks are cut must be preserved before being split into half-carcasses, quarters, and other parts intended for consumption;
- Maturation: the loin must be matured whole. During this process, the texture, flavour and aroma of the meat are altered by the intrinsic enzymes in the muscle cells. This is a very important process that lasts about 15 days, and must be carried out in a cold cell;
- Measurements: a Florentine T-bone steak should be about 5 cm thick and weigh between 1 and 2 kilograms.
Where to eat Florentine T-bone steak
In which restaurants can you eat a real Florentine T-bone steak in Tuscany?
Let’s find out together:
- Il Latini – Florence, Via dei Palchetti, 6/R: an eatery more than 100 years old;
- Perseus – Florence, Viale Don Minzoni, 10/R: famous throughout the city;
- Trattoria Osvaldo – Coverciano, Florence, Via D’Annunzio: a restaurant with the traditional spirit of times gone by;
- Trattoria da Burde – Florence, Via Pistoiese, 6/R: open since the early 20th century;
- I’ Brindellone – Florence, Piazza Piattellina, 10-11: in San Frediano, in the heart of the most authentic Florence;
- Buca Lapi – Florence, Via del Trebbio, 1: tradition just a stone’s throw from Via Tornabuoni;
- Osteria Acquacheta – Montepulciano, Via del Teatro, 22: in the heart of the historic centre;
- Trattoria Cupi – Magliano in Toscana, Strada di Cupi, 1: surrounded by the Maremma countryside;
- Trattoria da Benito – Castelfranco di Sotto (PI), Via Martiri della Libertà, 2: a typically Tuscan establishment.
Typical Florentine T-bone steak
Since the Florentine T-bone steak is considered an institution, it follows that certain guidelines need to be followed before it’s cooked:
- The steak should be taken out of the fridge at least 3-4 hours before cooking: that way the temperature won’t drop when it comes into contact with the hotplate;
- Blot the steak with paper towels before placing it on the grill; this will remove any excess moisture and ensure proper cooking;
- Massage: the steak can be massaged, if desired, with extra virgin olive oil. This will make the outer layer more crispy.
Florentine T-bone steak recipe
Preparing a Florentine T-bone steak is a genuine ritual involving specific timing and steps during and after cooking:
- Make sure the steak is in perfect condition: the cut must be free of bone dust and chips;
- The embers: the steak should only be cooked over long, well-lit, flame-free wood embers. The glow of the grill and tenderness of the meat depends on the temperature, which needs to be quite high. This process is important because it allows the meat to retain the organic fluids making it juicy, soft, fragrant and tasty;
- Doneness: the steak must be cooked for 3-5 minutes per side, turning it once with tongs to avoid piercing the meat. It’s also important to cook the cut on the bone side, placing it upright for 5-7 minutes;
- Service: it’s crucial to maintain the temperature without overcooking the meat. The meat should not be sliced or cut by the operator in the kitchen, as this would make it cool down and lose juices.
It should always be served whole and unseasoned. This can be added by the end consumer if they wish.
Extra virgin olive oil, coarse salt and black pepper served in their respective grinds, as well as fresh rosemary and garlic are all possible condiments.
Boiled and pan-fried Cannellini beans, baked potatoes, cooked and pan-fried herbs, and sweet leaf salad are the best side dishes.
The matching wines are Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino.