As I was developing this blog entry, it turned out “everyone” was dreaming on steaks: food mag covers, other food blogs, newspaper food sections, all were headlining steaks! Here’s my offering of a hearty American steak, done Italian style, with a story.
It begins with an al fresco lunch at a ristorante on the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Italy on a gloriously sunny day. The piazza was teeming with Florentines and tourists milling in and around the historical sights, including the Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery with Botticelli’s Venus and Michaelangelo’s David on the perimeter of the courtyard. It was a magical setting, and so was the meal, steak Florentine, a perfectly cooked, medium-rare, thin T-bone, with a splash of olive oil and spritz of fresh lemon across the top as it was served. Divine simplicity!
The kind of beef, Chianina, originally bred in Tuscany but now raised worldwide, also made a difference. It’s an ancient breed of white cattle/oxen, prized for both its work ability in pulling plows across rough terrain and also the quality of its meat for eating. No doubt, the robust Tuscan red wine accompanying the lunch added its own special glow. And that’s how I discovered another face of steak, definitely an enlightening experience for an American used to cuts 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick and more.
Notes: If you can find thin T-bone steaks less than 1-inch thick, serve 1 per person. If you can’t find those super thin ones, go for a more American T-bone, usually 1 1/2- to 2-inches thick or more, and share. The cooking time will vary, of course, depending on the thickness of the steak and type of grill you are using.
To accompany the steak, spinach briefly sauteed with olive oil and garlic makes for a particularly a la Fiorentina plate. See Step 3 below.
1 T-bone steak, about 1 1/2 inches thick, preferably grass fed
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1 lemon wedge
Optional, if serving spinach alongside the steak:
4 cups (packed) fresh spinach leaves
1/4 cup water
1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1. Prepare a medium-hot grill.
2. Lightly season the steak on both sides with salt and pepper. Place on the grill directly over the heat and cook turning once, until done as you like. For medium-rare, this will take from about 3 minutes per side for thin steaks, up to 4 to 7 minutes per side for thick steaks. Transfer to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes for the juices to settle before serving.
3. If serving the spinach alongside, place it and the water in a large pot or saute pan over medium heat. Stir until beginning to wilt, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and olive oil and stir until the spinach is completely wilted and tender, about 4 minutes.