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.
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.
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.
1 T-bone steak, about 750 grams (26 oz)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Allow the steak to come to room temperature. Due to the thickness, this will take several hours.
If this isn’t fit for a board, I don’t know what would be ;-)