Fiorentina steak and more. There are many cuts (from tagliata to tripe, to cuts considered less ‘noble’) that we can eat in restaurants and trattorias in San Quirico and Bagno Vignoni and buy in butcher shops.
The queen meat of this part of Tuscany is the Chianina, partly because we are just a stone’s throw from the homeland of this prized breed of cattle, and in the Val d’Orcia itself there is no shortage of Chianina breed farms whose meat makes its way directly to our tables. But, of course, quality meat from other non-native breeds can also be found.
Among the protected cattle breeds of the Vitellone Bianco dell’Appennino Centrale IGP (Protected Geographical Indication), the Chianina is the one that boasts the most noble and established image, thanks to the fame it has been able to win with the gastronomic myth of the “Florentine” steak.
Derived, according to some, from the Bos Primigenius (the one depicted in prehistoric cave graffiti) of which it still retains traces in the ancient “rump,” the Chianino ox was highly prized even by the Etruscans and Romans, who used it in triumphal processions, choosing it among other cattle for its characteristic porcelain-white coat.
Other somatic features that make the cattle easily recognizable are the pigmentation of the muzzle and tongue, the light and elegant head with short horns, the long and cylindrical trunk with wide back and loins, and longer limbs than other breeds. After more than 22 centuries, Chianina cattle continue to be raised in the middle Tiber Valley and the Sienese and Arezzo Chiana valleys. The PGI protection obtained with the label “Vitellone bianco dell’appennino centrale” guarantees the quality of the productions, the traceability of the meat from birth to slaughter, following each bovine to the distribution stage to guarantee the consumer.
Igp Chianino veal meat can be recognized by its bright red color, fine texture, firmness and elasticity to the touch. Small fat infiltrations (white or slightly whitish) furrowing the muscle mass are characteristic, and the outer thickness of fat covers the surface of the back and loins. In terms of fat content, Chianina meat has average values of 2 percent, a lower percentage than other breeds, from which it also differs in its high iron content.