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Recipe for
Bistecca alla Fiorentina
(Roman Braised Steaks)

Bistecca alla Fiorentina.jpg

Look, the Romans did not really eat steak. I have no idea where this came from. According to Correus, there are a few that are similar, but the ingredients are similar to dozens of meat and non-meat dishes. It's more an attempt to "Roman-up" something we modern folks like. Great... Try it and eat it in that vein. Don't think that the average Roman ate steak. Here's some notes:

There is one recipe that Apicius wrote about that has been speculated to use "braising steaks" which are nothing more than larger chunks of meat — usually tough cuts such as chuck, skirt, leg and flank. I have yet to figure out why this particular recipe is associated with "braising steaks" other than the recipies are meant to use larger chunks or slices of beef or veal and not large pieces or the whole animal. The recipe is very similar to several other like recipes found throughout the various recipe sources.

The closest recipes to be associated with "steak" aren't even close to the one mentioned above but can be found in Apicius: De Re Coquinaria, Book 8 — The Quadruped (Liber VIII Tetrapus), Chapter 5. Beef and Veal (V. Bubula Sive Vitellina ):

  1. Fried Veal (I. Vitellina Fricta)
  2. Veal or Beef With Leeks or Quinces or Onions or Taros (II. Vitulinum Sive Bubulam Cum Porris <Vel> Cydoneis Vel Cepis Vel Colocasiis)
  3. Sauce for Boiled Veal (III. In Vitulinam Elixam)
  4. Another Sauce for Boiled Veal (IV. Aliter In Vitulin Elixa).

Something to keep in mind, is that the Romans were very similar to us when it came to chunks of meat. When we cook "steaks" it's generally on a grill or frying pan/griddle. It is usually cooked with a little salt and pepper or along with other spices or a steak rub; the Romans loved to grill their meats the same way.


  • T-bone beef steaks, or pork chops, or leg steaks of pork or mutton
  • A pinch of:
    • pepper
    • lovage
    • cumin
  • 1 tsp (5ml) garum
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) passum


  • Bone the meat, roll up the pieces, tie together with string and put in the oven to seal at gas mark 7, 425t (220°c) for about 10 minutes
  • Remove the steaks from oven and put under a low grill, taking care not to burn them.
  • Pound the pepper, lovage and cumin in a bowl and blend with the garum and passum.
  • Put the meat in a pan with this sauce and simmer gently until completely cooked.
  • Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon and serve without the sauce, sprinkled with pepper.
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