This is inspired by both the bistecca Fiorentina found the length and breadth of Florence and across the rest of Tuscany, and by a love of brilliant beef.
The classic Fiorentina is a T-bone cut from local beasts, usually the Chianina breed, and then grilled very rare, sliced and served with chopped raw garlic, rosemary and maybe some lemon. The dish has acquired something of a cult status in Italy, where there are several staunch schools of thought on its preparation and execution. This passionate debate is typical of the Italians’ approach to food and its wider cultural context, and I love them for it.
I’ve added a quick brining, followed by some cold-smoking to give it a super-smoky boost. After this, you’ll need to rest the meat for a few hours – but, boy, is it worth it!
FOR THE RED MEAT BRINE
- 1/2 cup coarse sea salt
- 1/4 cup demerara brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 black peppercorns
- 4 cloves
FOR THE STEAKS
- 2-1/4 pounds T-bone steaks or 2 1-1/4 lb sirloin or rump steaks of similar thickness
- 1 quantity brine for red meat
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2 sprigs rosemary leaves finely chopped
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- olive oil for cooking
- extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- sea salt and black pepper
Make the Brine
- Place all the ingredients in a medium non-reactive saucepan with 4 1/4 cups of water. Slowly bring to the boil, stirring as you go to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before using.
- Submerge the steaks in the brine in a non-reactive container and leave for 1 hour.
Make the Steaks
- You’ll need a cold-smoking device and some oak wood dust for this recipe.
- Light and set the cold-smoking device in the barbecue. Place the steaks on the rack in the barbecue and smoke for 2 hours and 20 minutes. Transfer the steaks to a bowl, then cover and allow to rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- Light the barbecue and set for direct/indirect cooking.
- Season the steaks, rub with a little olive oil and then place on the grill over the direct heat zone. Cook for 3 minutes until nicely charred and caramelized, then turn over and cook for a further 3 minutes before moving to the perimeter of the indirect heat zone for 2 minutes to rest. These cooking times will give you medium-rare steaks – if you want them cooked further, i.e. medium, then add another 2 minutes on each side to the cooking time.
- Transfer the steaks to a chopping board. Cut the meat off the bone, then thickly slice each piece before reassembling. Transfer to a clean board or platter, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle over the garlic, rosemary and lemon zest.