steak florentine

Steak “Florentine” on warm kale salad with shallots, chiles, and Meyer lemon vinaigrette. Photo by Michael Ruhlman.

When I’m in NYC, I live in a studio in the West Village with a teensy kitchen. I see why New Yorkers don’t cook more often. But I’m trying to develop strategies for cooking for one in tight quarters (and keeping a journal about it). This means one-pan meals (my go-to pan is a 12″ cast iron skillet), and dishes that result in a second and third leftover meal. The first, on a frigid weekend night, was a simple milk-based bolognese (diced San Marzanos added late). The next day I asked a friend what I should cook next and she said immediately, “Steak Florentine!”

There seems to be no agreed-on specifics as to what this dish is. I presumed it involved spinach. But no. It seems only to designate a steak from particular Florentine breeds of cattle, usually a thick T-bone, sliced and shared. If anyone has intelligence what designates steak Florentine, please announce yourself.

I bought a fabulous dry-aged strip from Hudson & Charles, great butcher! Seasoned it and left it out for four hours to warm up. I seared it in the hot skillet, filling my studio with smoke, then finished it for about five minutes in a hot oven.

While it rested, I softened a sliced shallot and three sliced chiles in the same skillet, then added chopped kale, standing in for the spinach I’d thought was part of the dish, and which I had on hand from a previous meal. I tossed it, seasoning with salt, until it turned a vivid green, a couple minutes, then seasoned it with the juice from a half a Meyer lemon, to taste. Sliced the steak and served it atop the salad. Fabulous one-pan meal.

Last night, I ate the rest of the steak, along with pasta left over from the bolognese, cooked in olive oil and garlic and topped with a fried egg. Another satisfying meal.

And so begins my exploration of cooking for one in tight quarters. All meal suggestions welcome!

Off this morning on assignment to Hawaii, Oahu, Maui, and Kauai. Never been and can’t wait.


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25 Wonderful responses to “Steak “Florentine””

  • Sara

    Enjoyed this post…Steak looks delicious…and you will love Hawaii….Hope you get to Wailea on Maui..great views and dining

  • Pat Anderson

    Pictures of the steak have me drooling… from the one time I went to a steak house in Florence, yes, it’s all about a Big Steak. The side dishes, you order separately.

    Have a great trip to the islands!

  • Dean

    When you return from Hawaii all tanned and rested, check out the NYT video series by Jill Santopietro called Tiny Kitchen. In it she makes some really good food in a really small space.

    As for Steak Florentine, it’s a huge T-bone from a particular breed of cow called a Chianina. It’s grilled but left very rare in the center and finished with olive oil, a little lemon juice and coarse salt.

    Last, if you’re looking for recipes that produce great leftovers and require few pots, braising stews and baked pasta dishes seems a good way to go.

    • Brad

      Exactly right, with one particular quirk–it’s grilled over wood coals, specifically pine wood coals. And I’ve seen preparations where raw garlic is added to the olive oil and lemon juice.

    • Andy

      I think Michael had a post about Jill 4-5 years ago with her making pizza in her small NYC kitchen.

  • Mark

    You might take a look at the Judith Jones book The Pleasures of Cooking for One (Knopf, September 29, 2009). Ms Jones was the Editor for Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

  • Dan

    For my “steak florentine” generally means a big, feasty-sized T-bone cooked medium-rare over hot wood coals then drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. Rosemary is optional (but welcome). Big red wine to wash down.

    Now I’m hungry.

  • Thom

    couldn’t agree more with Mark on Judith Jones’ book. Not only great food but ideas too. I enjoy your books, apps, podcasts, etc.


    I’m sure you’ve got a plan for your Hawaii trip, but if you need any ideas or suggestions, I’m a 25 year resident and would be happy to share insights. Drop me an email and let me know if I can be of service in any way.

  • kanani

    Tiny quarters –yes, one pan meals, and if you are making more than that, save the leftovers for lunch the next day.
    The big problem with small quarters is storage –so you do learn quickly to shop for fresh everyday, though staples are always smart to keep in moth-proof containers.

  • RG

    Marcella Hazan describes the Florentine preparation as rubbed with coarse pepper, grilled rare on wood or charcoal, salted, the bone optionally rubbed with a clove of crushed garlic during grilling, and lightly drizzled with olive oil.

    “[The steak] owes some of its appeal, of course, to the distinctive fl􏰄avor of the [Chianina] meat, but as much again can be attributed to the Florentine way of preparing it which can be applied successfully to a􏰃ny, well-aged steak anywhere.” — Essentials of Italian Cooking, 385

  • Stephen

    Enjoy Hawaii Michael! I just got back from a two week vacation in Maui and Kauai!

    One of the best things I ate were Coconut Chips from Banana & Coconuts on Maui, amazing little snacks.

  • Allen

    One pot meals in a tiny kitchen would make a great book, tiny kitchen is the key – lots of people doing one pot meals but not in a studio apt. Only in tv studios.

    Be sure to try the local produce in Hawaii, they have the best avocados and I like there tomatoes better than San Marzano tomatoes. Lots of quiet beaches where you can walk barefoot in solitude, listening to the waves. Lots of crowded ones too, but the ocean is warm, weather is great even when it rains.

  • Allen

    Try to get some Gabby Pahinui slack key guitar music on your phone and have a Tahitian grapefruit juice with tequila and a side of kalua pork and tomatillo sauce with a nice sunset.
    One of my favorite memories.

  • Karen Gaylin

    Have you tried Shakshuka, the Israeli dish where eggs are poached in a zesty tomato sauce? It is a wonderful one pot meal. There are several recipes on the Web but I like the one posted by Tori Avey on She even uses a cast iron skillet. She garnishes with chopped parsley although it is also tasty when sprinkled with crumbled feta cheese. It makes a dandy brunch dish as well.

  • Sara

    Also…check out music of MAKANA in Honolulu if you have chance.greatest slack key guitarist ever

  • Amy Chiligiris


    Make sure to check out the lunch counters on Kauai. There’s a really good one in Koloa by the supermarket. All the construction guys go there at lunch. Fresh seafood, some cooked, some poke style, two scoop rice and mac salad. Also, hike Sleeping Giant. You’ll never want to leave.

  • Kent

    Are you in Hawaii for any public appearances? If so, we would very much love to come out and support your gig.

    • Emilia

      Michael is in Hawaii on assignment, so he is there researching and writing an article. Keep up with him on Twitter.

  • Mary-Ellen Ramsden

    A friend of mine owns a small apartment in Tudor City. Until he did some renovations a few years ago, his “kitchen” was a compact fridge, small sink,and built in 2 burner electric stovtop that was meant to be hidden behind louvered doors when not in use. He used his microwave and toaster oven quite a bit, both of which he kept on a table outside of that “closet.”

    Your post makes me think of your suggestion to bake potatoes in the toaster oven, to go with your spatchcock chicken on the grill. Topped with stew or chili made in a crock pot, that could be delicious. A slow cooker could also be handy for marinara sauce. Quick stir-fry meals with ingredients picked up that day come to mind, also. In fact, the tiny kitchen seems to lend itself to the whole idea of “buy it now, cook it now” kind of ideal that is practiced in Europe and Japan, or at least how I understand it. No huge pantry or freezer stash, just room for a day or two of leftovers and some staples.

    I look forward to reading more about these adventures!

  • Rick Walters

    pasta al forno dishes and gratins are tops on my one dish meals along with paella, risotto and fried rice because you can add any leftover or scavenged veg or protein to all of the above. a simple potato gratin with ham added becomes a complete meal for instance. a salad of raw veg and or oven dried with a sharp vinaigrette can round these out

  • Amy Coletta

    There’s a great book of essays, “Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant”, that is all about cooking for one, and several address the tight quarters as well. A wonderful read!


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