November 8, 2005

CICCIA- Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Bistecca alla Fiorentina

I recieved an email from a student, asking why the recipe for cooking Florentine steak wasn't in my cookbook.
It is so easy, I didn't even think about it, as really it is more of a non-recipe.

I then began to think, it is usually the easiest recipes that are the hardest to reproduce!
So here are some of my thoughts on the Tuscan T-Bone.

Of course the secret to great great meat! Using the best will let the flavor of the meat shine through!

Source out a fabulous butcher!

The beef here grazes and is very lean,not pumped up with antibiotics, so needs to be left really rare to be tender.
I look for lean meat, no marbling, but with a nice layer of white fat on the outside, my favorite part after grilling!

In Florence, I can choose from one of many in the market. I walk around looking that day at the different steaks. Today I picked the Chianina steak from Emilio

Buy a 2 pound T-bone steak ( this one was 1,200kg, which was about 2 1/2 lbs)
Leave it at room temp.

It should be three fingers high!

Get the coals going, or wood...
Or heat up a cast iron skillet or griddle.

When the heat is right ( coals and wood should not be flaming,but hot coals.. White and red..)
Skillet HOT.

Put the meat on to cook.
No seasonings.

In America, this may set off your smoke detectors, so I suggest outdoor grilling when possible..and on wood or coals for the best flavor.

.. gas grills???
I am sure it imparts a flavor too..
I am not an expert on gas grills,maybe someone can do a taste test for me!
Do they impart a flavor too?

Leave the meat to cook 3-5 minutes per side.
( depending hot HIGH the steak is cut, it Italy it is three fingers high)

Often, they also cook the steak for the last 5 minutes, standing up on it's bone, to get that last bit cooked around the "T".

After the steak is cooked, let sit for 10 minutes before cutting.
If you cut the meat right away, it will bleed and lose all it’s juices, drying out!

You want it to be black and blue, seared crispy on the outside, then with a grey layer, then the red , almost raw steak.
Think Prime Rib?

Cut the meat off the bone, into large serving sizes, divide the filet also.
Sprinkle with sea salt and if you like you can also drizzle with olive oil . Many like to serve a lemon wedge.

Secrets.. Buy the BEST!

Keep it simple.
Meat,sea salt and olive oil!

Spend more time shopping than cooking!


  1. That steak looks yummy! ARF! ARF! Most people I know just ruin meat (and fish too) because they are afraid it will burn if the heat is really high.
    One of my grannies has been serving me gray, hard meat sine I can remember because she just bought the most flavorless veal (YUK!) and cooked it over a very low fire, and adding salt at the start. When I happen to buy myself a steak and make it myself she always freaks out that it may burn. I can't leave the skillet or she will turn down the heat.

    Another, imho, very importnat thing to say is NEVER-EVER for no reason at all, stick a fork in a steak until it's done and it has rested. This is my MIL speciality. She cooks her steaks too much, turning them several times with a fork. When you chew them they feel like a toothbrush with a roast-flavored dog toothpaste on it.

  2. Alice has a way with words, doesn't she?
    Steak done this way was my dad's specialty. He bought the steaks and then got innumerable iron skillets to cherry red heat. There were no smoke detectors back then-- good thing. His alteration to this basic recipe (what can I say? He was French.) was to sprinkle salt onto the red hot skillets. It helped form the crust quickly enough so the center wasn't cooked, and also kept the steaks from adhering to the skillets. Turned once with tongs, quick cooking again, and off they came au bleu.
    Once off, Dad put a knot of butter on each steak-- remember, French? Or sometimes a mixture of Roquefort and butter. I once did a side by side of the two methods and both made great steaks, but Dad's pan was cleaner.
    (An iron skillet is best cleaned by heating it with oil and then scouring with salt. You get to know these things in a household like that.)

  3. Hello,

    I am a chef instructor at The California School of Culinary Arts, Le Cordon Bleu and I am also a fellow blogger. is a multi-author blog with published and emerging writers. To the left you will see a list of authors who contribut content.

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  4. OMG, this IS a knockout! :D

  5. Domo Arigato!

    And to think I was a vegetarian for 7 years!

  6. Judy, concerning gas grills.....We had one when we lived in the states and in my opinion the gas grill NEVER got hot enough to properly grill a steak....I tried different types of briquettes for gas grills, stone tiles, etc, but never found anything that worked for me.

  7. Barb..
    I am sure not the queen of a gas barbque!

    I have done grilled pizza's and they worked great.
    Why would you use briquets with a gas grill?

    I need to go back to the states more often!

  8. Beautiful steak! And I'm salivating wondering at the taste.

    I'm curious. What does ciccia mean?

    Now that I have a daughter living in Europe, I can see I have to add Florence to the list of must visit places!

    Dale in Tucson

  9. Dale,
    ciccia means meat... if you see my latest blog entry.. dario cecchini;s new restaurant is called solo ciccia.. only meqat!
    how lucky to have a daughter in europe.. my mom is happy!
    and it has been 22 years!

  10. Anonymous8:10 AM

    Why would you use briquets with a gas grill?

    to get the grill hot enough, especially if you are planning to cook more than one at a time (cooking more than one on a gas grill will usually drop the heat of the plate significantly therefore distorting the cooking times and loosing any chance of a perfect steak)

  11. Anon- If you read the post, I ask about cooking on a gas grill as I no nothing.

    When I left American in 84, there were not any gas grills. wood or briquets.

    Thanks for the notes.

  12. Anytime I read a travel piece I am ready to book a ticket. I'm such a sucker for any cultural experience. Sounds amazing! I've done Europe, much of Asia, and North Africa. Hands down my favorite trip was a food and wine tour to Tuscany. Really had the time of my life and it's like every local is there to help you enjoy. Next trip you should check it out.

  13. We do a "Tuscan Style" steak in our fireplace in the winter. YUMMY!!!

  14. Looks yummy. We have this restaurant in our area that serves a very tasty pork ribs meal. Every time I plan to eat at this place I order their specialty and it will really make my day.

  15. Glad that you have responded to the request because I want to try another way of how it is done. Your way looks fantastic and hoping that I could find all the ingredients.