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Aug 24, 2014 04:06 PM

ISO Chianina beef

Traditionally used for Florentine steak, is it available here? If not, what would you ask your butcher for if you planned to cook a great BBQ Florentine steak. Big T bone? Big porterhouse?

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  1. Wow, KitchenVoodoo! Are you living inside my brain? I've pondered this over the past few weeks, since booking a vacation to Italy this fall. I've been reading about the incredible bistecca Fiorentina. I can't wait to try it there. Last summer, I asked a friend to procure a well-aged porterhouse from Cumbrae's on Church Street. The meat was absolutely delicious, but did it bear any resemblance in taste or appearance to a porterhouse from a Chianina cow? I fear not. If Chianina beef is available in the GTA, I'd love to know about it. The best approximation, in my opinion, would be to find a butcher that will hand cut an excellent quality, well-aged porterhouse. While our porterhouses were sensational, they were definitely not 3+ inches thick. They were probably just under 2 inches thick. I didn't want my friend to break the bank trying to get a 3-inch porterhouse from Cumbrae's, but in the end, he showed up with 2 of those 2-inch beauties, only $80 poorer! His efforts were hugely appreciated. 3 of us feasted like kings and queens.

    1 Reply
    1. re: 1sweetpea

      Why, yes, I AM living inside your brain, and love that you're not charging me rent! But why is it so damp in here? :) Seriously, my interest in Chianina beef is because my Godson was about to visit me and loves Italian food, and I know this would be something he'd never be able to find where he lives (Bermuda). And I've seen it grilled on many TV food shows - not sure I'd like it as blue as they do, but it did seem like some culinary wonder of the world - all the better for having no fuss involved in cooking it. Although I'm sure that a wood fired BBQ would be icing on the cake. Friends of mine spent an earth quaking amount of money on a prime rib from the Healthy Butcher last Christmas, very tasty. Please report back from your vacation and let us know if find the holy grail of steak Florentine!

    2. I remember reading that most beef served in florence for the bisteca alla florentina doesnt even use real chianina beef. I think I noticed only one place with a certificate claiming authentic chianina beef. Not sure if there is a huge taste difference though, maybe the size difference.

      The healthy butcher claims to have farmers that have angus cross bred with chianina seems like there is a chianina association... looks like 1 cow in SK

      1. Dario Cecchini in chianti has the real deal, both at his famous butcher shop and his restaurant across the street. I bought two 3 inchers in 2009...not cheap but real Chianina. If you're in the small town, make sure you get the 11 course, all-beef feast in his restaurant.

        1. I really believe its how one prepares the steak ie., Grilled over Charcoal, open wood fire, gas or high temperature seared using cast iron?..... that makes the difference.

          If the cut and quality is really good, whether one uses English Long Horn, Grass fed Black Angus from Scotland, Grass fed Argentinian or Australian Wagyu, Italian Chianina or Fassone, French Charolais, USDA Prime from the mid west....etc, difference in taste and texture should be really minimal.

          A few years ago, whilst working and living in Paris, I discovered the second floor ' SteaK Bar ' at Gallerie Lafayette. There, one can pick any type and size of cut of beef from a selection of USDA Corn fed prime, Grass fed Argentinian, Australian, Scottish breed beef, Japanese Wagyu, French Charolais....etc. The Chef will cook them as per your order. As such, one can actually have a ' steak tasting' of sort. Personally, taking a Striploin as example, I really cannot tell the difference of a lot of varietal after they are cooked and smothered with charcoal aroma, sprinkled with fine quality sea salt and sometimes with a dab of hot English mustard?!

          However, Tajima Beef ( Kobe ) from Japan, now, THAT'S DIFFERENT!!!

          7 Replies
          1. re: Charles Yu

            Well, Charles, I disagree on this one!
            Beef has never been my favourite of the commonly found meats, so I haven't done any serious comparisons. However, in North America, I was struck by the distinctive flavour of Texas Longhorn beef that I found in a burger (in Texas, of course). I have since 'confirmed' (to my satisfaction) the difference on several repeat visits and posted on the Texas Board to find somewhere that had steaks available (the responses only identified producers where I could purchase, not restaurants).

            Subsequently, last year in France, I stumbled across 'Sare Beef' (which was previously unknown to me) and the taste was noticeably different - although my French, sufficient to determine this was a specific breed, was insufficient to determine whether it was possibly the rearing/feeding that caused the differences.

            Consistently, my favourite meat has been lamb - and there I have done a number of comparisons, and also pride myself on being able to recognise the origin in most versions I've been served in Toronto (although, because of its scarcity, I still find it difficult to identify Welsh, which I'm sure you're very familiar with). In particular I favour Washington State Lamb and upon research, long after it became my favourite, I discovered it WASN'T the rearing/feeding - it's actually a different breed. It was brought over to the U.S. by Basque immigrants who intended to make sheeps' cheese. That market didn't survive - but the sheep did, to become the breed still found in Washington State.

            Does the steak bar at Lafayette still exist? If so, it will surely be on my list for next time I'm in Paris.

            1. re: estufarian

              Apparently the 'Steak Bar' closed down about 3 years ago or more? You will love the place, not so much for the food but the amazing 'wine by the glass' selection. Talbot, Lynch-Bages, and even Palmer!

              1. re: estufarian

                Next time you are in Ireland you must try the lamb, and the beef, - I am biased, having grown up eating these grass fed drug free animals. I don't think the meat can be legally imported into Canada.

                1. re: KitchenVoodoo

                  I used to study and live in Aberystwyth across Cardigan Bay from you!
                  Pity Canadian custom does not allow people bringing in meat products ( unlike say, Japan ), otherwise we can plan for a tasting of Welsh Lamb vs Irish Lamb vs Ontario Lamb vs Washington States?! That would be cool!!

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    Bring it on! I would (for patriotic reasons) put my money on Irish Lamb to beat out all comers!

                  2. re: KitchenVoodoo

                    My guess is it's a price/demand issue rather than a legal issue.
                    Welsh lamb is certainly available - I bought fresh Welsh lamb last week - expensive compared to other imports, but it was for a special occasion.

                    1. re: estufarian

                      I also prefer the taste of lamb to beef, typically. I have not tasted Welsh or Basque lamb, but I could sing the praises of Icelandic lamb endlessly. My husband and I speak lovingly and longingly of the half dozen (or more) lamb dinners we enjoyed during our 3 weeks in Iceland in 2010. Sea air, mossy harsh terrain and wild herbs and berries must be part of the secret to the succulence of the meat. The only sub-par lamb we experienced was during the autumn sheep roundup, when there was no sufficiently aged and rested meat available on a sheep ranch. The owners apologized for having to serve us meat that hadn't hung for more than a couple of days. It was quite tough, but still very tasty. Hardly surprising when you see how far the sheep roam and the efforts required to herd them back to their respective villages and owners.