Bistecca alla Fiorentina

The Chianina is breed of cattle raised mainly in Tuscany for the T-bone referred to as bistecca alla fiorentina. It is one of the largest and one of the oldest cattle breeds. The Chianina breed extends back to the ancient Etruscans (so they say) and they have long been revered for their beauty and expressiveness.

They may have originated in the Val di Chiana, from which they derive their name, which once was a fertile plan where they could easily graze. Unfortunately, during the Middle Ages, the nearby rivers flooded, turning the plains into swamp-land, so cows had to move elsewhere in Tuscany. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the swamps were drained and the plains became fertile once again.

In fact the most famous butcher in Italy’s Panzano (Dario Cecchini) was accused of selling “fake” beef, grown in Spain, it was being passed as Tuscan Chiannia. Dario’s cattle were raised in Spain where there are larger pastures of land for the animals and where regulations are more relaxed.

He has deliveries come in from his contact in Spain every week to his warehouse in Panzano where the meat is hung to dry for around a month and is then cut into the various pieces used in the butcher shop and in Dario’s restaurant in Panzano. These days it’s just uneconomical to raise cattle in Tuscany given the scale of farms, and so suppliers turn elsewhere to find the breed.

This bistecca alla fiorentina (below) was chewy as you expect, but I still believe that the bistecca alla fiorentina is over rated unless cooked to perfection over a hot charcoal fire.