Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Carmela Soprano's Bistecca Florentina - Porterhouse Steak Florentine style

Summer in Manitoba is a very short season.
We're cooped up for most of the year.
No one likes to go out when it's -40º.
Yes, -40º is just as cold in either C or F.
So, when it's summer, we want to get out.

The swordfish recipe I found in Tony's chapter Grilling - Italian Style in Artie's 
The Sopranos Family Cookbook was an education, if not a practical recipe.

But there was a nice regular steak recipe on the next page.
Steak Florentine style - Bistecca Florentina.
Porterhouse steaks… hmmm...
I don't usually buy porterhouse steaks.
I didn't know what a porterhouse steak was.
So I went back to the butcher/fish monger at my local market.

He didn't laugh.
He just got a little teary-eyed.
I didn't know how to react.

He sat me down and gave me a quick butchering lesson.
Yes, he had porterhouse steaks.
But he figured a thick T-bone steak would do just as well.
After all these years, he knew my budget pretty well.

The T-bone and porterhouse are both cut from the short loin. 
Both include a "T-shaped" bone with meat on each side. 
Porterhouse steaks are cut from the rear end and have more tenderloin steak. 
So, they are more expensive.
T-bone steaks are cut from the front, and contain a smaller section of tenderloin.

Porterhouse is a marketing, rather than a butchering, name.
There were a few 19th-century U.S. hotels and restaurants named Porter House.

On Manhattan's Pearl Street around 1814, Martin Morrison served large T-bone steaks to his customers.  In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Zachariah B. Porter served the same large steaks to his hotel's restaurant's clientele.  Then there was the Porter House, a popular hotel in 19th-century Flowery Branch, Georgia.

It's not important.
And I wasn't too surprised.
When we lived in New York we'd never heard of a New York steak.
Ah, marketing!

Because both T-bone and porterhouse steaks don't need longer cooking times to tenderize the meat, they are great for grilling or broiling. 

I told him I wanted to make Bistecca Florentina.
Turns out 'beefsteak Florentine style' is an old Tuscan recipe. 
The steak is grilled over a wood or charcoal fire, and seasoned with salt and, sometimes, black pepper.
The Tuscan touch is the olive oil which is added after the steak is cooked.
In Tuscany they serve it very rare, sometimes garnished with lemon wedges.
And, yes, a T-bone would work just as well.

If you're broiling, place the broiler pan 4 inches from the heat.
Preheat a gas grill or the broiler.

                        Bistecca Florentina

Serves 6 to 8

Prepare a medium hot fire in a grill, either charcoal or gas.
Place the grill rack 4 inches from the heat.

Rub all over
2 porterhouse steaks (about 2 pounds each), about 1 1/2 inches thick
salt and pepper

Grill or broil for 4 to 5 minutes on each side for rare.
The time depends on the thickness of the steaks.
Make a small cut in the thickest part and the centre to check for doneness.
If you want to cook them further, move the steaks to a cooler part of the grill.
Let the steaks rest 5 minutes before cutting into thin slices.

Sprinkle with 
Drizzle with
Extra virgin olive oil
Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Would I make Bistecca Florentina again?
Sure, with T-bone steaks.
I don't have Tony's sources of income.
No loss.
There's more to life than a bigger piece of tenderloin.

One recipe down.  Eight more to go.


  1. Love your sence of humour Margaret. Lots of great recipes.

  2. Thank you! I hope you found many recipes you've enjoyed making and eating.
    Happy Holidays!


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