Fit for a Board: Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Conor has invited me to join his board. He had commissioned four handmade chopping boards to be cut from the same block of walnut by his friend Terry from 2 Wooden Horses and has sent them as Christmas gifts to Richard, Nick and myself. As chairman of the board, Conor challenged us to use the board. And so all four board members are showing today what they have done with their boards.

The first thing that came to mind was a dish that is certainly fit for a board: Bistecca alla Fiorentina. This is a T-bone steak as it is served in the Tuscan city of Florence. I have prepared the Bistecca alla Fiorentina in the traditional way that doesn’t take into account the latest ideas on how to prepare a steak but is delicious anyway. A true Bistecca alla Fiorentina should be of a special Tuscan breed of cattle called Chianina. It should be about two fingers thick (4 cm or 1.5 inches, about 750 grams/26 oz). It should be cooked over a charcoal fire and otherwise as little as possible should be done to it: only salt and freshly ground black pepper should be added, strictly after cooking. Such a simple preparation with such a lot of flavor is certainly fit for a board of which Conor is the chairman.

And so thanks to Conor, Kees was building a charcoal fire in our back yard in the middle of January. Luckily the local hardware store still had some leftover charcoal from last season.

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Bistecca alla Fiorentina is always served rare, which is quite unusual for Italy where medium well is more common.

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This is the board. Beautiful, isn’t it? Wooden chopping boards have a bad reputation in terms of hygiene, which is completely uncalled for. Wooden boards have antibacterial properties that are superior to plastic boards. They should not be cleaned in the dishwasher, but they can be cleaned easily and effectively with salt.

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Before use, a wooden board should be oiled with grape seed oil (or food-grade mineral oil). The oil will protect the wood and will prevent water (or meat juices) from penetrating the wood. Simply brush the board with oil and allow the board to absorb the oil. Repeat for about five consecutive days. The board may absorb quite a bit of oil. Grape seed oil is a very neutral oil and therefore most suited for this purpose. Olive oil may become sticky or rancid.

Ingredients

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For 1-2 servings (many people share a bistecca alla fiorentina, as the optimal thickness for this steak leads to quite a large steak)

1 T-bone steak, about 750 grams (26 oz)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Allow the steak to come to room temperature. Due to the thickness, this will take several hours.

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Prepare a charcoal fire and wait until there are no more flames and the charcoal has turned white.

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Do not do anything to the steak. No salt or pepper, no oil, nothing. Simply put it on the grill for 3-5 minutes or until deeply browned.

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Turn over the steak and cook the other side for 3-5 minutes as well.

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Season the Bistecca alla Fiorentina with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve it on a beautiful wooden board with a simple green salad on the side.

If this isn’t fit for a board, I don’t know what would be ;-)

Wine pairing

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In Florence this would be served with the local red wine: Chianti Classico. Many other powerful reds will work as well.

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14 thoughts on “Fit for a Board: Bistecca alla Fiorentina

  1. Pingback: Board Meeting Politics & Serious Pork | REMCooks

  2. What a great, generous gift, Stefan! The board looks gorgeous. Yes, you are totally right. We like our meat medium/well done but Stefano is an exception. He loves it rare and he would pay a fortune to eat a fiorentina as gorgeous and juicy as yours! :-)

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  3. Since I have just ‘come’ from Richard’s I know most of the story! Congratulations on the board [ thank you for a few extra tips on how to look after it] and joining the Board!! Bistecca alla Fiorentina surely is a most suitable christening menu!! Now have to travel to the last one of you to complete the story! Have fun guys!!!!!

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  4. This looks so succulent I could have it even for breakfast! But re the olive oil, Steffan where did you get the idea that it goes rancid? It’s one of the most resistent (not to mention best quality) oils in the world … that is, if we are talking about ‘proper’ olive oil (evoo) as opposed to the rubbish that passes for olive oil in most supermarkets. I suppose in a way it would be a waste on a wooden board. Thank you so much for mentioning that wooden boards are ‘hygienic’ … (and more long lasting) … I think the EU should be smacked for imposing plastic boards in all public places (restaurants, etc).

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  5. Looks great as always. Ever tried a T-bone Caveman style? Otherwise check Raichlen on youtube. For me this tis the most flavourful and spectacular way to get the most out of the carcoal.

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  6. Pingback: Sous-vide Warm Aged T-Bone Steak | Stefan's Gourmet Blog

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