Bistecca Fiorentina is what everyone eats when traveling to Tuscany but since I have taken you to Maremma I want to share with you the way they cook and eat bistecche in Maremma. One would expect that in Maremmana, the bistecche would be the longhorn that roam the hills and pastures there, and traditionally it was. But the Maremmana is not known for tender meat and today on the grills of the best places and homes in Maremma you will find beef from Chianina. But although the meat may be Chianina, the preparation still reflects Maremma.
The cut of the meat is a Porterhouse steak cut, which is similar to a T-bone steak, but with a larger cross section of the tenderloin (filet mignon) along one side of the “T”. The carree’ of the Chianina is enormous hence the big pieces of meat which surround the T bone. Choose a prime or ‘top choice’ steak that has been aged properly for two to three weeks.
- One porterhouse steak, 2-1/2 to 3 inches thick, about 3 pounds, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary needles, stripped from fresh sprigs
- 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus more for serving
Chop the rosemary needles finely with a chef’s knife and place in the mortar with the salt. With a pestle, crush and grind them all together into a coarse rub.
Continue grinding with the pestle as you drizzle in the olive oil, until the mixture has thinned to spreading consistency. Cover and set aside.
Heat a gas or charcoal grill thoroughly over a high gas flame or a deep, glowing bed of charcoal. Lay on the steak and grill the first side for 8 to 10 minutes, until the meat is well browned and marked. Turn onto the other side and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes to brown and mark it. Set the steak on its broad edges—letting it stand or holding it with tongs—and grill the edges until browned. Grill the flat sides again [meaning?—Ed.] for equal lengths of time to cook the steak to doneness.
The steak may need anywhere from a total of25 to 35 minutes to cook to rare, depending on thickness and the heat of your grill. It should fell springy to the touch. If you have an instant-read meat thermometer, it should read about 120° when inserted a couple of inches into the side of the steak (but register cooler temperatures nearer the bone).
When done, set the steak on a platter or carving board and immediately brush it with the rosemary paste, coating it lightly on all surfaces. Let the steak rest for 10 minutes, allowing the natural juices and the seasoning to permeate the entire cut.
First cut the large loin and tenderloin sections away from either sides of the T-bone. Slice each piece on a slight angle into 1/2-inch thick strips and re-arrange the overlapping strips in their original position next to the bone. Pour any juices released in carving over the meat and drizzle with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil.