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Home With the Lost Italian: Bistecca alla Fiorentina—steak Florentine

"It's like beef juice and herb marination had a baby, and they called it Delicious." This was our 10-year-old son Gio's description last week after his first experience with bistecca alla Fiorentina, and Tony and I couldn't have said it any better.

Steak Florentine prepared by Tony Nasello is made with chopped sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil. Dave Wallis / The Forum
Steak Florentine prepared by Tony Nasello is made with chopped sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil. Dave Wallis / The Forum
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"It's like beef juice and herb marination had a baby, and they called it Delicious." This was our 10-year-old son Gio's description last week after his first experience with bistecca alla Fiorentina, and Tony and I couldn't have said it any better.

Bistecca alla Fiorentina, or steak Florentine as it's called in the United States, is a fancy name for a simple dish that originated in Florence, Tuscany. In Italy, the use of the term alla fiorentina, in this case, refers to a specific type of meat that comes from the Chianina breed of cattle, famous for its great tenderness and flavor. Florentine cuisine is as varied as it is delicious, and in addition to this interpretation, the use of the term is also applied to dishes featuring either spinach or beans.

There is no exact recipe for steak Florentine, which has endless variations and styles. The cut of the meat is a defining characteristic. The porterhouse and its lesser twin, the T-bone, are the best cuts for this dish, as their great marbling of fat throughout the cut gives the meat its incredible flavor. This is a perfect dish to share, and with each steak featuring both a tenderloin and strip steak alongside the bone, there's plenty of meat to go around.

Tony's interpretation echoes a popular standard for this dish and highlights the use of fresh herbs for flavor. We are at the peak of summer, which also means that fresh herbs are at their best and you can use any that are currently growing in your garden. For Tony, this means an abundance of sage, rosemary and thyme for this recipe.

When cooking the meat, make sure your grill is hot, clean and lubricated so that the meat doesn't stick to the surface. A gas grill is fine, but coal or wood would be even better for this dish.

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Tony mixes his freshly cut herbs in a small bowl with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and brushes each side of the steak before bringing it to the grill.

Once the meat is on the grill, let it cook for three to four minutes before touching, so that the steak gets a good sear and begins to caramelize. Once grill marks are achieved, flip the steak and continue grilling until desired temperature is reached. Tuscans like their steak rare to medium-rare, which is also how we take it, but no matter what temperature you desire, Tony always encourages using a meat thermometer to ensure a good result. Let the meat rest for at least five minutes before serving.

When buying the steak, look for the thickest cut of T-bone you can find, up to about 3 pounds. Steak Florentine is typically carved before serving, and Tony recommends separating the meat from the bone first, then carving it against the grain.

Traditionally, steak Florentine is served with just a salad and a nice glass of Chianti, and the grilled veggie salad we featured here last week would be a perfect fit. Or, you could step away from the grill and serve it with our Tuscan Bean Salad, Honey Gorgonzola Hearts of Romaine or a classic Caprese, all of which can be found on our blog at www.thelostitalian.areavoices.com .

This is a large, rich cut of meat, so the side dishes should be light by Italian standards, which makes it a perfect fit for a summer evening. Delicious, indeed.

Steak Florentine

(Bistecca alla Fiorentina)

Serves 1 to 2

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Ingredients

1½ to 2 pounds T-bone steak

1½ teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1½ teaspoons fresh sage, chopped

1½ teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon crushed black pepper

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Directions

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Make sure grill is hot, clean and lubricated before use.

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together, except the steak, until well combined. Brush both sides of the steak with the marinade and grill immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 hour. Bring meat to room temperature before grilling.

Place steak on the grill and don't touch for 3 to 4 minutes, so that the steak gets a good sear and begins to caramelize. Use tongs to lift a corner and check for grill marks, then turn steak 45 degrees and cook for another 3 minutes to achieve "X" marks. Once achieved, flip steak over and repeat.

Insert a meat thermometer in both sides to check for desired doneness, then remove from grill and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Cut the meat away from the bone and carve against the grain before serving. Enjoy with a simple salad and a glass of Chianti.

"Home With the Lost Italian" is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owns Sarello's in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 10-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at dine@sarellos.com and their blog at www.thelostitalian.areavoices.com .

Related Topics: RECIPESFOOD
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