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Meet Your Meat: Chad Colby's 42-ounce bistecca alla fiorentina

February 13, 2013|By Betty Hallock
  • A 60-ounce bistecca alla fiorentina at Chi Spacca.
A 60-ounce bistecca alla fiorentina at Chi Spacca. (Ling Hung / For The Times )

A new occasional series that explores all things meaty and fatty.

Meat-centric Chi Spacca, or "The Cleaver," opened this month at Mozza's Scuola di Pizza, where chef Chad Colby has developed L.A.'s first certified dry-cure program -- which means a lot of salumi. But if you want a spectacular hunk of meat, Colby is grilling a 42-ounce bistecca alla fiorentina, the famed Florentine steak, and its lesser-known sibling, the costata alla fiorentina

The cut: Colby said he buys the short loin from Harvey Gussman of Harvey's Guss, who "puts three weeks of dry age on the beef," which is Nebraska corn-fed. From the short loin Colby cuts four bistecca and two costata. The bistecca is Florence's most renowned steak, comparable to a porterhouse. But, Colby said, "at a classic butcher shop in Tuscany, the costata is just as prized if not more so. ... As the filet side tapers off, you have more inner muscular marbling." Both steaks are cut at 42 ounces, which can easily feed as many as six. Originally, Colby had set out to serve 80-ounce steaks, but no table in the dining room at Chi Spacca seats more than six people, so it was too big a steak for the space. A 42-ounce steak is "more than a healthy amount of meat," he said.

How it's cooked: "Salt and pepper, then throw it in on the grill," Colby said. "Meat and fire. It’s as simple as that. It's such a big steak, all on the bone, cut thick so that it stands upright" during grilling, in the traditional Florentine manner. "The bone warms up and gets the last little pockets that never cook right to the proper temperature. It's ready to rest once it reaches body temperature. We always want to serve it so it's warmer than your mouth, certainly no colder."

What else you should know: The steaks are so big that it takes 30 to 40 minutes to cook to rare, which is how it is served. "We don’t offer temperatures unless people ask because it’s such a large steak it would take forever to cook it well done. So we encourage people to order something else if they want it well done," Colby said.

What it'll cost you: $175 for a 42-ounce steak.

Chi Spacca, 6610 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 297-1133, www.chispacca.com.

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