Steven logs an impressive number of frequent flier miles, but his assistant, Nancy Loseke, spends a lot of time on airplanes, too. She had business in Florence, Italy, this past week, home of the Tuscan dish “Bistecca alla Fiorentina.” The above T-bone, from a local breed of cattle known as Chianina, weighed more than four pounds!
The dish was originally known as “carbonata,” which means, “cooked over charcoal.” Nancy reports it is getting increasingly difficult to find authentic versions as many restaurants have converted to gas grills to satisfy the city’s fire codes. But not Osteria Caffe Italiano, whose large wood-fired grill was grandfathered. There, the meat is simply seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled over a mature (hot) fire for several minutes on each side. (The Florentines like their steak rare.) It is served with extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling on the steak), roasted potatoes, and sauteed greens, but more typical side dishes are white olive oil-dressed cannellini beans and a green salad.
For Steven’s version of Tuscan Porterhouse, see page 56 of “How to Grill.” You’ll get extra points for authenticity if you use his Tuscan Grill (click on STORE at left). It delivers the “killer grill marks” he likes so much.