No visit to Greve-in-Chianti is complete without a visit to the famous Antica Macelleria Falorni. An 8th generation butcher, the store today stocks Chianina beef, Cinta Senese pork, chingali and other Tuscan delights over 4 shop fronts in the towns square. It’s a place not to be missed.
Visting italy food markets without access to a kitchen was pretty tough. Seeing mountains of porcini, fiori di zucca (corgette flowers), tartufo (truffle) and without a means to experiment with them had begun to get frustrating. So when we finally moved into our apartment just outside of Greve-in-Chianti there was no question that we would get our cook on. The only question was what. Then we saw the Chianina T-bones.
Chianina beef is from the prized white cattle from Val de Chiana near Arezzo. One of the largest and oldest breeds in the world, it is the Chianina cows that give the prized bistecca alla fiorentina or Fiorentina Steak. Prized for its tenderness and flavour, the t-bones steaks are usually served at least 2 inches thick and prepared simply without any sauces.
After getting our hands on a 1.6kg marbled monster, we sought advice from the butcher as to how to go about cooking it. After deciphering his instruction (we got there eventually — his italian + hand signals/our poor italians + hand signals) we knew to take the bistecca out of the fridge into in ambient temperature at least 4 hours prior to cooking; heating a hot hot grill; placing the steak on the hot grill, without butter, or oil; waiting 7 minutes; turning over and seasoning the cooked side (not beforehand); cook for another 7 minutes; season the other cooked side; then rest, carve and serve.
Without a grill we knew we wouldn’t be following his instructions perfectly, but still we had high hopes that it would all work out. Armed with a frypan (that barely fit the steak!) and gas hob, we heated the pan until it couldn’t be heated any longer. As soon as the steak hit the pan, the amazing aroma of natural fats filled the room. And then we waited.
I honestly don’t think I have ever been so stressed about cooking a piece of meat before. In our minds we knew that there was no possibility of overcooking this beast – after all it was 5cm thick. But that didn’t stop the nerves getting to us.
When we turned the steak over at the 7 minute mark, we were surprised to see how good it looked. A firm crust had begun to form on the outside, and as we seasoned the cooked side with salt, the crystals barely penetrated the surface – keeping the flesh moist inside.
When we finally removed the meat from the pan we noticed the pan had tablespoons of natural fats that had rendered from the beef. After letting the beef rest for a short period (just long enough to take these photos in fact), we wasted no time cutting it open.
Perfectly crusted beef, rare on the inside. Juicy, tender and flavourful. What more could you ask for in a bite of food!