My friend’s family has been in the meat business for a century. His great grandfather started a company called Golden Packing in 1920, and my friend just re-established the family business in 2020. He got his start learning about and cutting meat, and then later was in sales with various operations. Now he runs his own show, having started his own operation exactly 100 years after his great grandfather did the very same thing. So cool.
His 21st century Golden Packing is even operating in a space that’s literally across the street from their original location in NYC’s meatpacking district on Little West 12th Street. One of the last few remaining meat packing businesses in the area. That’s something special.
He gave me a quick tour of the facility, and we even tasted some burgers and dry-aged steaks that we cooked in the office upstairs. Check out this video of the dry aging room, which is just across from the office:
This place was amazing. The smell of that room permeated through my mask and filled it with a mouth watering blue cheese aroma. I was salivating while taking these pics and videos. If I was in that office it would be hard to keep me from wandering off and just hanging out in the aging room.
Check out the progression on these aged short loin anterior ends. It goes from one day, to five days, to nearly three months.
And that same middle pic, just a week or so later:
Here’s a look at how burgers are made:
I actually made those! Chuck gets cut up into pieces and then turned into ground beef via these machines.
Anyway if you’ve been following along on Instagram, you may have noticed that I’ve been posting some butcher and packing type pics and videos lately. That’s because I’m “interning” here at Golden Packing, learning the business!
That’s right. I’m finally putting my money where my mouth is, and stepping into this glorious world. Here are some more shots of the day to day:
It’s a lot of fun. I’m learning so much, and somehow I find it exciting to wake up at 3:30am when I’m going to this new “office.”
Over time, I’ve had the opportunity to sample the wares, as you might imagine. For example, I’ve never touched anything as tender as these bone in veal tenderloins:
The skirt steaks are killer. Here’s an easy preparation I did with them to make fajita pitas:
Here’s my treatment of their porterhouse:
What a tasty beauty.
And also their bone-in tenderloin. This was fun!
Really great product, and it’s no wonder that they service so many of the city’s best steakhouses. They DO offer steams for home delivery as well, but the main bread and butter is their restaurant clientele.
Strassburger Steaks‘ “Steakhouse Collection” of home delivery chops is wonderful. Thick, aged cuts of highly marbled beef are vac sealed and shipped right to your door in tight styrofoam coolers, surrounded by ice packs.
The first thing I made was a rib eye. I overcooked it a little, but here’s my video:
It was really flavorful, and the aged profile really came through nicely.
Next up, I did a Philadelphia Italian-inspired twist on taco night: ground beef, blue cheese and broccoli rabe.
These were incredible! The beef was 80/20, really brightly colored pink and delicious.
Then I tried a “dry-brine” on a highly marbled porterhouse. Here’s a pic before brining.
Check out the video:
As you can probably see, with the exception of the area right near the bone on the strip side, this technique made for a really great Maillard brown crust.
I undercooked it a bit, but thoroughly enjoyed.
I still have a lot more to try, but this is a great start. I definitely recommend these steaks for home delivery. And don’t forget, I wrote an article about Suzy Strassburger and this company way back. Check it out HERE if you haven’t read it yet.
A few months ago I had this wild idea that I would like a steak with an aggressively spicy Chinese flavor profile of chili oil, Szechuan peppercorns, cumin and garlic. Then suddenly I saw a menu item pop up at the Lobster Club with a strikingly similar list of ingredients, and the steakhouse Blu on Park is closing, making way for an Asian steakhouse which, perhaps, will feature something similar. Without wanting to wait for the new restaurant, and without having to drop bank and fight for a table at Lobster Club, I struck out to make my own, to turn my dream into reality.
I started out with one of my Piedmontese strip steaks because (1) they’re not dry aged, so I’m not competing with any other flavors, and (2) they’re cheap enough so that if I fucked it up, I wouldn’t feel so bad about it.
So what the fuck did I do?
Marinate the shit with chili oil, garlic oil, minced garlic, Szechuan peppercorns, Szechuan pepper oil, cumin, Chinese five spice and sesame oil.
After a few hours (or a few days if you want the flavors to really penetrate the meat), and after allowing your meat to get up to room temperature, dry off your steak with paper towels and season it all over with kosher salt, cracked black pepper, garlic powder, a touch of Chinese five spice and cumin (those last two ingredient are potent, so a little goes a long way). If you have fresh chilies, cut up a few and toss those in as well.
Pour the marinate into a pan and start bringing the fucking heat. Once the pan is screaming hot (but not smoking up the joint), toss that steak in. Now throw in some duck fat (or butter if you don’t have duck fat, but tracking down some duck fat is 100% worth it to bring home all the flavors).
Once the steak sticks to the bottom of the pan, tip the pan and spoon the liquids over the top of the steak as the bottom side cooks up to a nice brown crust. After three minutes of this, flip and repeat. Once finished, remove the steak and let it rest before slicing. Here’s a video of the process:
Now throw a pint of leftover rice from your Chinese take out into the pan. You know – the box of shit that’s been in the back of your fridge all week. Mix all the oil and duck fat into the rice, and spread the rice out across the pan. LEAVE IT. Let it get crispy as fuck on the bottom without burning.
Once that’s done, plate the rice, slice up your steak, and top your rice with the steak. I did a fancy slicing technique for presentation, but you don’t have to get all crazy with it.
That’s about it. Enjoy, assholes! Oh and pro-tip: you can remove the peppercorns before frying up the rice. I didn’t do this because I like the numbing quality to them.
We basically broke the rib down into spinalis and eye filets.
For the butt, we broke that down into roasts and filets, as well as top sirloin cap filets. I left the fat on, and plan to grill it like picanha.
After trimming and cleaning up, we had lunch and discussed some information about the beef industry, the beef lifecycle, and beef nutrition. Then we cooked up some of what we just cut.
I made garlic and thyme rib eye filet steaks with portobello mushrooms and a blue cheese sun dried tomato sauce.
I have to say, it looked and tasted pretty amazing.
The other people at the retreat cooked up some awesome recipes as well, and all the recipes are available HERE.
The best part: we got to bring home everything we butchered!
I highly recommend getting involved with New York Beef Council activities if you’re like me and have a passion for beef. Even if you just have questions about beef safety, raising cattle, farming, or packing/slaughter. These guys and gals really know their stuff, and they’re awesome people.
CrowdCow works with small, sustainable cattle ranches to ship beef directly to consumers. They specialize in grass-finished beef. Today I’m working with a flatiron steak and a chuck eye steak that they sent to me.
Tom’s Steak Rub is made by a family that lives and works on a large cattle ranch in western Nebraska. They sent me awesome hats with the steak rub, too, which match my steak shirts perfectly.
In the video I’m testing out the Kamikoto 7-inch Japanese forged steel santoku. They’re running a massive sale on these things right now. The knife is normally $675 but it’s currently on sale for $115. They also have nice knife sets at deeply discounted prices as well.
In short, I highly recommend all three of these products. Please enjoy the video!
Every food-oriented website out there, whether it’s Eater, Grub Street, Thrillist or what have you, has their own version of “The Ultimate Guide for Cooking a Steak,” or whatever it may be. Many of them do offer good information, but they’re almost all incomplete. They set you up with one method for one cut of meat. This piece will serve as a place where you can get instructions for cooking several different cuts of steak via several methods. Let’s get right to it.
This is probably the method that most people are familiar and comfortable with. Since it is actually my least favorite way to cook one of the four major cuts, I will discuss it first, up front, with the caveat that I do actually prefer grilled skirt steak to any other cut that’s done on the grill. That said, there are some significant pros and cons for grilling. Depending on what you want out of your steak eating experience, you should take these into consideration before deciding if this is the right method for you. What time of year is it? Summer, winter? Are you grilling over charcoal or propane?
Johnny’s Preferred Cuts for Grilling: Skirt, Flank, Hanger
Familiar and comfortable to most home cooks
No smells or smoke indoors
Can easily cook many steaks at once
Fat, flavor and juices fall through the grill bars
Can be difficult to control heat levels
Lowered ability to sear evenly
Grilling is perfect for outdoor cooking in the warm months, and especially for large groups of people. You don’t get any lingering smells in your home, and you can enjoy the day like a good American, beer in hand as you cook. Since I like a good even sear across the entire cut of meat, I generally don’t like cooking the four major cuts of beef in this manner. Generally I go for skirt or flank, something that benefits from a good, fast blast of heat; something where I don’t mind if I lose a little fat or juice through the grill bars; and something cheap that can be sliced up and served family style. Charcoal is a tough medium to master. Some people are experts at creating and maintaining even heat levels for a cooking session. Others use propane. This is easier, cleaner, and more convenient, but you lose some of that desired charcoal and smoke flavor unless you’re adding soaked wood chips to the grill as you cook. If grilling is right for you, then read on below.
Get your steak up to room temperature and pat it dry.
Crank up your grill to as high as it will possibly get.
Season the skirt/flank generously with salt and pepper.
Grill the meat with the grill top open. Do not poke, prod, press or move the meat once it is set down on the grill bars. Allow the bars to create nice markings on your meat.
After a few minutes, flip once and repeat the previous step.
Use a meat thermometer or the “hand test” to ensure that your steak is properly cooked to medium rare. Remove it from the grill at 125F.
Let the steak rest for a few minutes on an elevated and porous surface, like a metal baking rack. During this time the meat will continue to cook a bit more while off the flames, and it will retain more juices during the next step.
Slice against the grain of the meat, or “against the bias,” and serve.
This is probably my favorite method for cooking steak. I always try to use a cast iron skillet, as they just work better for creating that crusty sear that we have all come to know as steak lovers. If you can’t get your hands on one, then a standard pan will do.
Smoke smell can permeate the home, set off smoke detectors
Pan cleanup can be annoying
Large pan needed for big or multiple cuts
Cast iron not ideal for glass electric cook tops
Get your steak up to room temperature and pat it dry.
Crank up your burner to as high as it will possibly get, and heat up the pan with a small amount of butter.
Season the steak generously with salt and pepper.
Sear the shit out of your steak, and add a wad of butter to melt in the pan. Throw in some rosemary and garlic too, if you like. Do not poke, prod, press or move the meat once it is set down. Allow the meat to stick to the pan a bit, with as much of the bottom surface touching the pan as possible.
Spoon the melted butter over the top as the meat cooks, basting it in flavor.
After a few minutes, flip the cut with tongs and do the same thing of the other side of the steak.
Once both sides are seared, then you should also sear the edges if you are working with a thick-cut steak. Anything over an inch and a half should get a little side sear if possible.
Use a meat thermometer or the “hand test” to ensure that your steak is properly cooked to medium rare. Remove it from the pan at 125F.
Let the steak rest for a few minutes on an elevated and porous surface, like a metal baking rack. During this time the meat will continue to cook a bit more while out of the pan, and it will retain more juices.
Alternative Instructions From Step 8 Onward
This secondary step is helpful if you have a very thick cut of steak, and a good, hard sear is all you can really get from the pan without overcooking. You want your meat to be pink from top to bottom, with no “grey band” in sight. To achieve this on thick cuts, lots of people will put the steak into the oven at a low temperature, like 250-300F, to allow the internal temperature to come up to medium rare once the pan-searing steps (1-7) are complete. Here, a meat thermometer is key to ensure that your meat is cooked to the proper temperature inside.
This is very similar to searing with an oven finish, like above, only done in the reverse order.
Johnny’s Preferred Cuts for Reverse Searing: Thick Cuts of Filet Mignon, Strip, Porterhouse, Rib Eye
Even sear across entire steak
Juices stay put
Slightly more difficult to execute than a simple sear
Multiple cooking steps and waiting
Here, the first step is to cook your steak in the oven at a low temperature, like 250-300F, to allow the internal temperature to come up to rare or medium rare. Again, use a meat thermometer to ensure accuracy. Once that step is done, the steak gets finished in the hot searing pan with butter. This will form the desired crust on your steak. You just have to be careful not to overcook your steak in the pan as you are trying to get that crust to form. I recommend allowing your steak to cool down to room temperature before searing it off, and/or getting that pan screaming hot before you put the steak in.
Generally speaking, broiling means that the heat source is coming from above the meat and close to the meat. Contrast with baking, which means that the heat source is below and more diffused or distant from the meat. Broiling a steak gives you more direct exposure to the heat source than baking, whether it’s an open flame (gas oven) or the heating element (electric). While not as direct as, say, touching a hot pan, broiling is better for cooking traditional cuts of steaks than baking, because you can get a charred outer crust easier and still get the inside of the meat to the desired temperature. Baking is better suited for roasting meats, since the heat source is often diffused a bit by the oven bottom when baking.
Johnny’s Preferred Cuts for Broiling: Thick Cut Bone-In Porterhouse, Thick Cut Bone-In Rib Eye, Bone-In Tenderloin, Bone-In Strip, Large T-Bone
Why the bones, you ask? When cooking with “surrounding” heat, like roasting or broiling in an enclosed oven, bones are very effective at radiating heat into the center of the meat tissue. This method, therefore, also makes large/thick cuts easier to work with.
Cleaner, less smoke and permeating odors
Relatively easy to execute
Easier to get an evenly cooked center of your meat
Easy to overcook if not careful
Requires meat thermometer (puncturing meat is never good)
Harder to get the desired crust than other methods
Get your steak up to room temperature and pat it dry.
Set your oven to broil.
Season the steak generously with salt and pepper.
Bring your oven rack close to the heat source (near the top) and place steak in the oven in a shallow roasting pan that can catch any drippings.
Once the top crisps up a bit, flip the meat in the roasting pan to get the crust on the other side as well.
Use a meat thermometer to ensure that your steak is properly cooked to medium rare. Remove it from the oven at 125F.
Let the steak rest for a few minutes in the roasting pan. During this time the meat will continue to cook a bit more, and it will retain more juices.
Slice the major muscles off the bone, slice the muscle against the bias, and arrange the meat on a platter for serving.
Roasting is synonymous with low and slow diffused heat from a bottom source, or all around the meat, from all sides. This method is best suited for large hunks of meat that take a long time to cook down to the center, generally for serving many people.
Johnny’s Preferred Cuts for Roasting: Standing Rib Rack Roast, Chateaubriand, Large Brisket
Great for large format dining
Easy to execute
Result is very juicy, tender and delicious
Takes a long time to finish
May require extensive carving
Generally lacks outer crust like a standard cut of steak
Many people like to brine their meats before roasting. While this is generally more common with pork roasts or fowl, some steps can be taken with beef to increase flavors. You can crush up some garlic and stuff it into your roast (flavor injectors), or rub it on the outside of the meat; you can rub it with rosemary or roast it on a bed of herbs; and you should season it generously with a multitude of spices. You want all those flavors to permeate deep into the meat, so massaging, rubbing and pushing into the meat is all recommended. If you use a flavor injector, I suggest getting a lot into one or a few injections, that way you don’t pierce the meat too many times.
Set your oven to a low bake temperature, like 350F.
Place your meat on a roasting pan to catch any drippings, and set it in the center/middle rack of your oven.
Place your meat thermometer into the center of the roast.
As the meat cooks, use a turkey baster to suck up liquids from the bottom of the roasting pan, and squirt it over the top of the roast occasionally. This will add some flavor to the outside and help to create a flavorful edge to the roast.
Remove it from the oven at 125F. Let the meat rest for a few minutes in the roasting pan. During this time the meat will continue to cook a bit more, but the resting phase will help the meat retain more juices for the next step.
Slice and carve for serving. Sliced roast beef pairs perfectly with both hot gravy and cold horseradish sauces (either cream-based or tomato-based).
Sous Vide means “under vacuum” in French. In this method of cooking, you are cooking your steaks in vacuum sealed bags by submerging them in a hot water bath to precisely the desired temperature, and then finishing them in a pan as a secondary step. This may sound like high tech restaurant science only kind of stuff, but there are items available in the consumer market to do this with great results at home.
Johnny’s Preferred Cuts for Sous Vide: Thick Cuts of Filet Mignon, Boneless Strip, Boneless Rib Eye, Bavette, Denver Cut/Blade Steak
Perfect internal temperature every time
No monitoring necessary
Easy to achieve success
Requires a special unit or item, a vacuum sealer and bags
Wait time can be lengthy
Still need to use a pan (or torch) to sear the outside
Lucky for you all, I’ve got a nice discussion of the sous vide cooking method here, with pretty pics and everything. In any case, here is the gist of it:
Season the steak however the you want. I use salt, pepper, garlic powder, garlic oil and crushed red pepper.
Place steak into vacuum seal bag and seal it up with some butter and herbs inside (rosemary is always nice).
If you’re a poor bastard and can’t afford a vacuum sealer, you can use ziplock bags. Place your meat into the bag and begin to submerge the bag into the water bath. Once you are all the way close to the zipper, zip it shut. The water surrounding the outside of the bag will push out all the air from inside. This is the poor man’s vacuum sealer. If you do this, you may want to put a smooth, clean rock in there too, just for good measure, to keep the meat from floating.
Set your temperature to however you like your steak cooked. I put mine at 125F for a nice medium rare. I’m dealing with grocery store meat here, people. Don’t give me any shit about that being too well done.
Wait about an hour or two. Don’t panic! You can’t overcook your steak in a sous vide bath. That’s the whole point of it!
Remove your steak from the water bath and let it cool back down to room temperature.
Re-season it a bit, if so desired.
Sear it. I use a Searzall, because why not? But you can easily just toss this baby into a real hot cast iron pan with some more butter and herbs to get that brown and crispy coating.
DIRECT FROM FROZEN
Some food scientist people were messing around and cooking strip steaks in a test kitchen; some cuts were thawed in a fridge overnight, and others were still frozen. The results stunned them. The steaks were cooked more evenly, with less “grey band” when cooked direct from frozen, and those steaks retained more juices (they lost less moisture during the cooking process). While they took longer to cook, they still browned at nearly the same rate as a thawed steak.
I think a major issue that home cooks with have here is that it may be difficult to prevent ice crystals to form on the outside of the meat during the freezing process. When cooking, these ice crystals will melt into water or sublimate into water vapor. At that point you are either boiling or steaming the bottom of your steak in the pan, which is bad. When doing that, you won’t ever achieve the crust that we carnivores all desire.
The scientists attempt to solve this problem by freezing the steaks in a special way at first, uncovered and flat. Once they’re frozen, they are then wrapped and bagged for storage. If you’re going to attempt this you will want to be very careful to replicate the freezing technique that the scientists utilized, to avoid excessive ice crystals from forming on the outside of the meat.
This method involves cooking in a pan that contains a good amount of oil. This is done to ensure that the nooks and crannies of the steak surfaces all get cooked the same amount, and it helps to displace any water that may melt out of ice crystals. Second, it also retains more heat, so you can bring the steak surface up to browning point faster, without overcooking any of the interview (which should still remain pretty cold since it is frozen). The result is less grey banding, and a more end-to-end pink steak interior.
You will still need to finish the steak in the oven, however, since the interior will likely be too rare or still frozen if you only use the pan.
In any event, here is my analysis:
Scientists’ Preferred Cuts for Frozen Steak Cooking: Strip
No waiting for steak to thaw or come to room temperature
Less meal planning needed ahead of time
Nice, even cook temp throughout
Difficult to avoid ice crystals
Complicated freezing technique
Still requires second step in the oven
Refer to this link and the embedded video below for proper steak preparation and cooking instructions.
DIRECT ON COALS
I haven’t tested this method out myself yet, so you’ll have to take this with a grain of salt, as above, with the “Direct from Frozen” method. My first exposure to this method was when I saw Alton Brown discuss it on his blog. I was intrigued enough to include it here, but since I no longer have the ability to cook often with real wood, I have never tested this out.
Alton’s Preferred Cut for Coal Cooking: Skirt
Covering in foil step essentially steams the meat
Potential for soot contamination
I think the best bet here is to just follow the directions from Master Alton, since he’s a culinary wizard, and I’m a mere apprentice. One thing I’m apprehensive about, which I noted in the “cons” section, is the part where Alton wraps the hot steak in foil. This means the meat will cook in steam. He then tosses it back into the juices. All of this makes me think “wet steak,” and that turns me off.
For more specific recipes, as opposed to these more general methods of cooking, check out my recipe page.
Since I made an ass kicking video for this recipe, I don’t really have to do much typing here. Watch:
One word of caution: you do NOT have to season the burger with salt before cooking. The egg yolks retain a LOT of salt content, even if you are very efficient at dusting it all off after pulling them from the curing box. So be mindful.
This is one of the simplest things to make, now that I have a sous vide machine at home. I honestly don’t think I will ever order a filet mignon out at a restaurant ever again, because this shit comes out so fucking perfect at home.
The only catch here: you need a sous vide machine (the vacuum sealer and Searzall are optional). They can be pricey, but if you have the balls, you can make one yourself like a real man (or have your cousin make you one, like I did) for a quarter of the cost of a store-bought machine.
Step 1: Buy filets
Step 2: Season filets however the fuck you want. I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, garlic oil and crushed red pepper.
Step 3: Place filets into vacuum seal bag and seal it the fuck up, with some butter and herbs inside (thyme and rosemary are always nice).
If you’re a poor bastard and can’t afford a vacuum sealer, you can use ziplock bags. Place your meat into the bag and begin to submerge the bag into the water bath. Once you are all the way close to the zipper, zip it shut. The water surrounding the outside of the bag will push out all the air from inside – poor man’s vacuum sealer. If you do this, you may want to put a smooth, clean rock in there too, just for good measure, to keep the meat from floating.
Step 4: Set your temperature to however the fuck you like your steak cooked. I put mine at 138º F for a nice medium rare / medium. I’m dealing with grocery store meat here, people. Don’t give me any bullshit about that being too well done.
Step 5: Wait. About an hour or two. Don’t panic, assholes! You can’t overcook your steak in a sous vide bath. That’s the whole point of it!
Step 6: Remove your steak from the water bath and re-season it a bit, if so desired.
Step 7: SEAR THE FUCK OUT OF IT. I used a Searzall, because I am a fucking badass with a massive bag dangling in the area between my asshole and my dick shaft. Listen to that fucking sizzle just before I flip it over:
But you can easily just toss this baby into a real hot cast iron pan with some more butter and herbs to get that brown and crispy coating. That’s how my cousin does it – see his results below:
As for mine? Check it out below… Seared to a fucking crisp on the outside, and pink as a snatch inside:
Step 8: Pour yourself a hefty glass of Scotch whisky.
Step 9: Drink it, then refill it, and then EAT while you drink that second glass of Scotch. Here: watch me devour one of the filets in under two minutes and then lick the damn plate.
Step 10: Jerk the fuck off and brag about how awesome you are, which I clearly did in the video above, shit the booze out of your system, and then fall asleep drunk and naked in the bathroom.
Feel free to use any cut that you want for this. I recently did the same thing with some Mosner grass-fed rib eyes, with some added duck fat to round them out. See below for the setup and results: