Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Florentine steak

In This Issue
 Florentine steak There's no spinach in this classic Tuscan steak procedure: Just a fine T-bone, grilled over charcoal and dressed with the simplest of seasonings.
 Last Week's FoodLetter and Archives Links to previous articles.
 Let us hear from you! You're invited to talk back.
 Administrivia Change E-mail address, frequency, format or unsubscribe.
Florentine steak

If you order something described as "Florentine" on an English-language menu, you can pretty much assume that whatever you get is going to be served on a bed of spinach or spinach and cream sauce.

But it ain't necessarily so. "Florentine" simply means "in the style of Florence." When it comes to fine grilled beefsteak - arguably the greatest dish of Florence and the surrounding Chianti region of Tuscany - there's nothing green in sight.

Florentine steak is a simple and virtually unadorned steak, a high-quality T-bone grilled rare and sizzling over very hot charcoal, then seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper, perhaps a little garlic, and the best cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil you can get your hands on.

Florentine steak is something akin to a religion in Tuscany, and an almost-religious ritual attends its preparation and presentation, a procedure that has been codified in custom and even under law for more than two centuries. I was browsing through my Italian Silver Spoon cookbook the other day, and discovered to my amazement that there are actually formal rules for making this steak, codified in 1991 by the Florentine Butcher's Association's Florentine T-bone Steak Academy,

Naturally, nothing would do but that I try it, or at least come as close to the formal procedure as possible. Getting a steak cut from an Itlian chianina calf wasn't going to happen in Louisville, so I substituted a Black Angus brand T-bone; and rather than "hang" it for 5 to 6 days as the regs suggest, I decided simply to assume that it had been hanging around in the butcher's case for about that long. But just about everything else, from the shape and size of the steak to the grilling process and service, closely follows the Association's rules as laid out in the Silver Spoon.

It did make one very fine steak, and it went superbly with an excellent Umbrian red. Here's how:

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two generously or four smaller portions)

Thick T-bone steak, about 1 1/2 pounds (650g)
Salt
Black pepper
1 clove garlic
1 or 2 tablespoons (15-30g) high-quality olive oil

PROCEDURE:

1. To meet the formal Tuscan regulation, your steak should be between 3/4-inch and 1 3/4 inches thick, and it should weigh between about 20 and 28 ounces. Get the best quality steak you can find or afford; dry-aged, grass-fed beef is best. To approximate the Italian process, select a steak in which the T-bone is roughly in the center, with a large tenderloin portion, Put the steak on a plate and let it come to room temperature. Do not season it before grilling.

2. Start charcoal in your grill and let the coals burn until they're very hot, glowing and covered all over with gray ash. Set up the grill for direct heat with the coals, if possible, 6 to 8 inches below the grate.

3. Slap the steak on the grate and leave it still, without moving, for 4 to 6 minutes, depending on whether you want it rare or medium-rare. Surely you don't want to go past medium-rare. Turn it with a spatula only, and grill it on the other side for another 4 to 6 minutes. The Italian regs call for flipping it once and only once, not touching it at all otherwise. I cheated, though, and gave it a 90-degree turn about halfway through each side, to burn in attractive criss-cross grill marks.

4. Prepare a serving plate large enough to hold the steak by rubbing it with a crushed clove of garlic and drizzling on the olive oil. When the steak is ready, place it immediately on the oiled platter; season with salt and freshly ground pepper and serve it while it's sizzling.

MATCHING WINE:
Red meat, red wine. Any questions? The wine doesn't have to be Italian, but when I'm enjoying this classic Tuscan treat, it only makes sense to me to pair it with the best Tuscan wine I've got - Chianti Classico Riserva, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano or "Super Tuscan" blends, or perhaps similar reds from nearby Umbria. The other night, we went in that direction with an excellent 1999 Sagrantino di Montefalco from Rocco di Fabbri.

DISCUSS COOKING IN OUR ONLINE FORUMS:
If you have questions, comments or ideas to share about this recipe or food and cookery in general, you're welcome to drop by our online FoodLovers Discussion Group, where I've posted this article as a new topic.
http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum/village/viewtopic.php?t=2575

Today's column is also cross-posted in the Food & Drink section in our Netscape/CompuServe WineLovers Community,
http://community.netscape.com/winelovers?nav=messages&tsn=1&tid=4688

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at wine@wineloverspage.com.

PRINT OUT A COPY OF THIS ARTICLE:
Want a copy that's easy to use in the kitchen? You'll find a simple, plain-text version of this recipe, suitable for printing, online at
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/print060810.html


Last Week's FoodLetter and Archives

Last week's Wine Advisor FoodLetter: The mighty tomato (Aug. 3, 2006)
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/tsfl060803.phtml

Wine Advisor FoodLetter archive:
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/foodlist.phtml

30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/thelist.shtml


Let us hear from you!

If you have suggestions or comments about The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter, or if you would like to suggest a topic for a coming edition and recipe, please drop me a note at wine@wineloverspage.com. I really enjoy hearing from you, and I try to give a personal reply to all mail if I possibly can. And of course you're always welcome to join the conversations with fellow foodies on our online FoodLovers Discussion Group,
http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum/village/viewforum.php?f=5


SUBSCRIBE:
 WineLoversPage.com RSS Feed (free)
 30 Second Wine Advisor, daily or weekly (free)
 Wine Advisor FoodLetter, Thursdays (free)
 Wine Advisor Premium Edition, alternate Tuesdays ($24/year)

ARCHIVES:
For all past editions,
click here

CONTACT US
E-mail: wine@wineloverspage.com

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES:
For information, E-mail
wine@wineloverspage.com


Administrivia

This is The 30 Second Wine Advisor's weekly FoodLetter. To subscribe or unsubscribe, change your E-mail address, or for any other administrative matters, please use the individualized hotlink found at the end of your E-mail edition. If this is not practical, contact me by E-mail at wine@wineloverspage.com, including the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so I can find your record.

Thursday, Aug. 10, 2006
Copyright 2006 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to the 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter

FoodLetter archives

Subscribe to the 30 Second Wine Advisor