By Chef Ella Freyinger

April 2021

6-8 Servings

'

Dario Checchini arrived for what was to be a simple dinner, in true Tuscan style. Simplicity existed in the ingredients but it certainly did not exist in the ritual, technique and vibrant energy that surrounded the creation of this unforgettable meal. My memory wants to paint a picture that he showed up with an actual suitcase of meats, which may be true or may not. There were unbelievably thick slices of soft and tender finocchiona, an Italian beef tartare pressed onto rosemary stems and grilled ever so lightly before going swimming in a pool of pungent olive oil. I picked figs from the neighbors tree to adorn a mezze platter of treats as friends made vinaigrette, sour plum crumble and braised fagiolini. There were also tomato salads, radicchio dressed with anchovies and fennel, fettunta and countless bottles of Tuscan red wines. A wood fire burned in the outdoor grill as Dario set a massive porterhouse steak atop the flames. No oil, no salt. He sang and chanted as he cooked this colossal morsel, sending prayers into the heavens and earth. To some it was a show but to me it was a ritual I desired to embody. We stood on the steps above the grill as Dario sliced the steak, our dishes ready and waiting around the table. He sprinkled them with salt filled with herbs from the lands where his cattle graze and olive oil from the olive trees only steps away from where the herbs were harvested. We sat down to a simple meal that was, in fact, not simple at all. Food is ritual, food is prayer, may you find time this week to embrace the rituals of connection and creation through mother earth's abundance.

Ingredients

  • FOR THE STEAK:
  • 1, 3-inch-thick porterhouse
  • FOR THE HERB SALT:
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup loosely packed woody herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme, savory)
  • FOR ASSEMBLY:
  • Olive oil
  • Herb salt

Steps

  • FOR THE STEAK:
  • Rest your steak at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, oil your grill grate and preheat your (preferably wood burning or charcoal) grill over medium-high heat.
  • Place your steak directly over the hottest part of the grill. Do NOT oil or salt the steak. This is one of the tricks to a true bistecca alla fiorentina. Cook for 10 minutes per side, moving your steak around the grill to develop a deeply caramelized crust without burning. 
  • Allow to rest for 15 minutes. 
  • FOR THE HERB SALT:
  • While the steak cooks; roughly chop all the herbs and place in a food processor. Pulse until finely minced. Add the salt and pulse 2-3 more times to combine. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
  • FOR ASSEMBLY:
  • If you’ve cooked up a porterhouse for this recipe you will cut the meat away from the bone. Next, slice the meat against the grain in about ½-inch-thick slices. “Re-assemble” the porterhouse by centering the bone on a platter and arranging the steak sliced on either side. Drizzle very liberally with olive oil. Once you think you’ve drizzled enough, drizzle more. Sprinkle liberally with the herb salt and close your eyes. Imagine a wood burning grill overlooking the Tuscan countryside while murmurings of starlings dance off into the setting sun.
  • Enjoy!