I finally made it back here after years of cravings. The first time I came was well before I started writing about food, so I was long overdue. On this trip, I made sure to get a little bit of everything. This platter ran me $143 (a bit pricey):
So lets start clockwise from the top right on this next pic:
Pulled Pork: This was fantastic. One of my favorites of the platter. There was a good crusty bark on the meat, and the flavor was juicy without being sauced. Some of the best pulled pork I’ve had.
Hot Links: This was my favorite of the meal. For some reason I gravitate towards hot links and sausage at BBQ joints. No idea why. They are always just really satisfying.
Brisket: A bit dry, but still very flavorful. I would skip this unless you are an absolute brisket fiend. I find Jewish style brisket like pastrami, or even Irish style corned beef, to be more flavorful and juicy than the often dry brisket we see at NYC BBQ joints.
Sirloin: This was overpriced at $38pp but it was a nice new take on BBQ cuts. The cook temp was perfect.
Half Sour Pickles: A great way to cut the fat. These were nice.
German Potato Salad: This was a great side too. A little vinegar to cut that richness of the meat goes a long way.
Baked Beans: These were excellent, as they were packed with bits of bacon and burnt ends. If beans are your thing, this is the way to go here.
Bacon Burnt Ends: This was delicious. Last time I came here they were all out, so I was itching to try these. Essentially it is like sticky, savory and sweet chunks of bacon or pork belly, rendered out nicely without drying or burning. Not too distinguishable from some bacon products you can make at home in a pan though. Good to try once.
Pork Ribs: These were just okay. The one I had contained too much fat. Not a bad thing, but I was hoping for more meat on the bone. Essentially it was a big bone with a little bit of muscle and a lot of fat. Flavor was okay. I’ve had better.
Definitely looking forward to a return trip here where I can focus on my favorite items of the day, like the pulled pork and the links.
This past weekend I went all in and made a Sunday roast out of some Strassburger Steaks sirloin that I butchered myself at a butchery class. I had it netted/trussed so that it held its shape during the cooking process (that’s why it has lines on it).
First I rubbed it with some delicious Botticelli extra virgin olive oil. I really love that stuff. It’s the best olive oil I’ve had, and it doesn’t take on a bitter taste like some extra virgin oils do.
Then I seasoned with kosher salt, pepper and garlic powder. After that, I sealed it up in a sous vide bag with a few sprigs of rosemary. I left it in the bath overnight for 12 hours, set to 128 degrees.
After I pulled it from the bath, I poured out any meat juices into a cup for using later.
I let the meat cool own to room temperature before searing it in a pan with some butter and the rosemary. I spooned the excess butter over the top as I cooked it, and ensure that I got a good sear on all sides.
Always let your meat rest before slicing. I rested this roast for about 15 minutes. While you do that, you can pour the meat juice into the melted butter that’s left in the pan and reduce it gently into a brown gravy sauce.
I served with a big salad and some roasted potatoes. But man, oh man. That beef was so delicious.
Oh and speaking of Botticelli Foods, they happened to send me and my wife a nice package of stuff to try out here at home.
I just used the EVOO with my roast, but my wife used almost everything here and baked these awesome little farfalle muffins – a take on my spaghetti pie, but with prosciutto cups, bow tie pasta, roasted red peppers, mozz, eggs, parmesan cheese and spinach. Insanely delicious.
I had the opportunity to head to Chef Joe Conti’s test kitchen prior to the open of his yet-to-be-named Japanese omakase restaurant downtown. The great thing about this meal is that I was able to taste a lot of different cuts of A5 Wagyu beef. The highest marbling score there is. Unreal. Since there were a bunch of courses, I’ll get right down to business.
Torched mackerel with pickled daikon.
Fried river fish, uni and river crab.
Giant shrimp/prawn carabineros. Simply seasoned with salt, but their insides cook into a naturally spicy and fatty butter-like substance that will provide you with wet food dreams for the rest of your life. It coats your tongue like a rich prosciutto almost. For real, this is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my whole fucking life. They get to about a third of a pound each in weight, too, so they’re substantial. Favorite part of the meal – even better than the beef!
Wagyu skirt steak (8/10) and pork skirt steak. Amazing. Here, the pork out shined the beef just because it was so unique to see this cut here in the states. I want more of it!
Wagyu sirloin (9/10), tenderloin (10/10) and rib cap (9/10). All amazing, but my favorite, oddly, was the tenderloin. It was so buttery soft and tender that it would be impossible to compare it to anything else that came across our plates.
Here’s the tenderloin up close:
Italian panko Parmesan breadcrumb “gyu katsu,” aka deep fried beef strip loin. Amazing. 8/10.
Eel with shiso.
Cold udon noodles.
Ice cream: chocolate, green tea with chocolate chips, and salted caramel. Still some refining to be done here, but over all a great closer plate.
I can’t wait until this spot officially opens. I think it’ll be in the West 4th Street and 8th Avenue area. Keep an eye out! They’re already booked solid for the first few months after they open.
Chef Joe’s place is called Shuraku, located in the west village. They opened to great success, and I finally got around to bringing my wife there to try the great food. The meal was excellent, and my wife loved her birthday dinner. Here’s what we had:
During the course of the meal we tried three different sakes. The one pictured with the bottle was my favorite, aged for 17 years in barrels. It had a mild smooth scotch flavor to it.
Course 1: tofu.
Course 2: A5 wagyu beef sushi.
Course 3: oyster and king crab.
Course 4: yakitori
Course 5: fish cake with dashi
Course 6: beef and seafood grill.
Course 7: udon with roe.
Course 8: yuzu cheesecake and strawberry yogurt ice cream, with green tea.
SHURAKU JAPANESE GRILL
47 8th Ave
New York, NY 10014
Formerly the location of Prime & Beyond, Ikinari switches up this dedicated steak spot from Korean to Japanese, only this joint lowers the price tag “big league” and creates a casual, standing-only environment.
What a great bargain for good quality meat! All of their beef is choice grade from Aurora Packing in Illinois, and wet-aged at least 40 days. Most importantly, the beef is cooked properly and treated with respect. But what’s surprising is that, for a “fast food” style joint, this place can actually compete with mom and pop restaurants (and even some big name steakhouses) on quality and flavor, for sure. And definitely on price.
Here’s how it works: You pay 8-11 cents per gram, telling the butchers exactly how thick you want your cut of steak. They offer filet, sirloin and rib eye.
Naturally, I had a proper sized steak cut from each:
I’m fat. Here’s what my bill would have looked like, had this not been a press/media event:
There are a variety of sauces and condiments to use for both your salads/sides and steaks. I was prone to keep hitting the wasabi.
The Ikinari sauce is thicker and sweeter, while the hot steak sauce has a little bit of spice and is a thinner liquid. Both are soy based.
The onion and pepper dressings went nicely with the radish salad. This was a small size:
So after choosing your cuts, the guys cook it up for you and you wait for them to bring it over to your standing/eating area.
Very casual! The steaks then come out sizzling on a cast iron plate with corn and onions.
Here are some more shots of that sirloin:
They serve the steaks rare, so that you can continue to cook it to your desired temperature directly on the hot skillet. I pretty much left mine as-is.
Here’s the filet:
Freaking HUGE for just $27.
And cooked perfectly inside.
My rib eye was cut a bit on a diagonal, and thinner than the other two, but no matter. It was excellent, and since I ate all of these steaks myself, like a real man, I didn’t mind so much.
The filet was tops, with rib eye close behind (if not tied), and sirloin next. If I had to put numbers on them, they’d all be in the upper 70th percentile for flavor, especially if you add some of the earthy sauces into the mix.
When you think about how much steakhouses are charging for on-par and sometimes lower flavor scores than these, it makes you question the entire steak scene!
Another thing worth mentioning: the pepper garlic rice was wildly tasty! It even had bits of steak thrown into it, and it also comes out on a sizzling cast iron plate.
Mix it all up and then let it sit and sizzle, so that a good, tasty crisp develops on the bottom of that rice.
Essentially, this place is everything that you wish Tad’s could be. You go into a place like Tad’s (do you even go in?) with high hopes and a hunger for steaks while you’re on the go. But, without question, it fails you, every time. The meat sucks, and it’s cooked like garbage.
Ikinari won’t let you down. I’ve eaten hundreds and hundreds of steaks in this great city, and I can tell you that this is a fantastic value, striking a bizarre but fascinating and attractive balance between steakhouse quality and budget dining. Give it a shot! Just don’t go there when your feet ache, because, as I said earlier, STANDING ONLY!
I recently had dinner with a friend of mine who had just gotten an angioplasty. If you don’t know what that is, it’s when surgeons open up blocked arteries and restore normal blood flow to the heart. If your arteries stay clogged, you can have a heart attack and die. Duh.
My friend’s doctor obviously cautioned him to avoid saturated fats and bad cholesterol. That doesn’t mean he can’t have a steak once in a while, and that’s exactly what he wanted for dinner on the night we hung out. I have that effect on people…
So there were two steaks on the menu; a NY strip and a skirt. My buddy asked the waitress, “which one is more fatty?” She said the strip, which, all things equal in terms of grade and cooking prep, is completely false. I informed my buddy why she was wrong after she stepped away, so as not to embarrass her. But I figured I would share that knowledge here with you guys, too. Here’s why she was wrong:
NY strip steak is a strip loin cut of beef, which is the most prized part of the sirloin. Sirloin is considered a lean cut of beef. In fact, any time you see the word “loin” in describing a cut of beef, that means it’s lean. The one caveat I’ll give is that fat content also depends on the grade of beef, not just the location of the cut. Prime has more intra-muscular fat (marbling) than choice, for example, and something like Kobe has more than prime.
The term “lean” means that the beef has 4.5g or less of saturated fat per serving, and 10g or less total fat per serving. About 66% of beef cuts are considered lean cuts. That’s pretty fucking good!
Skirt hails from the “plate” or diaphragm muscle of the bovine anatomy. It’s not listed above because it isn’t within the definition of lean. It has more fat content than a strip steak, especially after a strip is trimmed by a restaurant. Most of the fat on a sirloin lies on the outside of the muscle, as opposed to the inside marbling (which, by the way, contains “good fats,” like olive oil and avocados do). But when external fat is trimmed away, you’re down to low fat content.
The real question, then, becomes: How is the steak prepared? Does it come with a cream sauce? Is it cooked with tons of butter? Is it simply seasoned and grilled? All of this matters tremendously in terms of calculating the total fat content of a particular dish.
Why do I mention this? Because the method of cooking could flip these fat levels very easily. If the strip is being cooked in a pan filled with butter and then smothered in a cream sauce, while the skirt is simply seasoned and grilled, then maybe it’s best to get the skirt if you’re trying to be mindful of overall fat content. It all depends, like adult diapers.
My advice: don’t ruin good beef with a sauce. I love the flavor of beef, so I don’t like to mask it with sauces of any kind. Simply season and fire it up. If you live by those rules, then you can take the fat content of lean cuts at face value and be confident that you’re eating a low fat, lean beef meal that’s both nutritious and delicious.
Newport steak, aka “the apartment steak,” is essentially part of a tri-tip steak, which hails from the bottom sirloin portion of the animal.
Tri-tip is usually butchered into larger sizes for people to use on the grill or in BBQ style smoker preparations. A single tri-tip cut can feed a few people. It has a definitive grain direction and can be very tender and flavorful if cooked, sliced and served properly. For a nice write-up on how to properly execute a tri-tip on the grill, check out this post from BBQ Pitstop.
If you like the flavor and texture of tri-tip, but only need to feed yourself, you can get a Newport steak, especially if you’re living in Manhattan. In New York City, Florence Meat Market in the west village has popularized the “Newport” cut, which is a single serving size of steak that has been butchered from the tri-tip.
It also has been called the “NYC Apartment Steak” by food blogger and recipe historian Kathryn McGowan. I think this is a fun reference to the small NYC apartments near the butcher shop in which it is nearly impossible to cook. She provides a recipe as well – check it out. Very simple to execute.
This cut is meant to be easy to cook, and small enough to fit into your small pans, set upon your small stove top in your small kitchen, within your small apartment for which you’re paying a large rent.
I scored a limited run Groupon for Tavern on the Green that was just $89 (plus a coupon code discount on top of that) for a four course meal for two.
We started with salads. I had the iceberg wedge. While the blue cheese dressing was a little bit watery, the other components of the salad were great, especially the diced tomato and bacon.
My wife went with the caesar salad. I’m not sure if you can see it, but it was plated with some little anchovies as well. Pretty good salad.
She also had the sea bass with roasted leeks and mashed potatoes. The skin was crisp and the fish was cooked nicely on the whole, though I had a few bites that were slightly overcooked.
My wife went with haricot verts for her side item. These were crisp and buttery, lots of flavor.
I went with the sirloin steak, 12oz, dry-aged, with creamed spinach, roasted fingerlings and au poivre sauce.
I was suprised at how tasty this shit was. I was half expecting some throw-away cut of steak with tons of gristle, but it was really nice. 8/10.
Here’s the gravy getting poured on top:
I mistakenly chose the roasted baby vegetables as my side. These were terrible. Bland. I should have gone with the creamy whipped potato option instead, but I thought it would be an overload of potato items since they were already in both entrees.
The shared carrot cake for dessert was flavorful and moist, but it sort of had the texture of a fruit cake. I didn’t mind it because I love carrot cake, but my wife, who is a baker, wasn’t too impressed.
Good deal. If it ever comes up again, grab it.
TAVERN ON THE GREEN
Central Park West & 67th Street
New York, NY 10023
As a non-butcher, I’m sort of learning beef anatomy on my own. I recently purchased a 7lb hunk of top sirloin to dry-age at home in my SteakAger. Upon close inspection, I noticed that my cut had a strange, skinny, and somewhat triangular-shaped section of meat that was clearly separated by some connective tissue.
When inquiring about how to best prepare the top sirloin (either as a roast or as individual cuts of steak), I learned that this triangular piece of meat is in fact called the top sirloin cap.
“Time for a little anatomy lesson, with a subprimal cut of sirloin. 1. Tenderloin. 2. Top sirloin. 3. Top sirloin cap, also known as a Culotte steak.4. Tri-tip steak. 5. London Broil, also known as knuckle steak or outside round.”
So as you may have deduced, similar to how the rib eye has a cap, known as the spinalis dorsi, so too does top sirloin have a cap; it’s just more fancily known as the Culotte. It’s much bigger and more lean than the spinalis dorsi on a rib eye, but it has similar grain structure.
Check out this cool butchery video that mentions the Culotte:
So back to how I discovered this: A chef I’m acquainted with, Andre Lima de Luca, suggested that I cut the top sirloin cap off and prepare that separately from the rest of the top sirloin, so that’s exactly what I did after confirming that what I thought he was talking about was indeed the triangle of beef that I noticed at the outset. With the fat ridge still connected, this cut is essentially the same as picanha.
Below is a shot of my cap/Culotte, after being dry-aged for over a month and trimmed of any bark. Since my 7lb hunk was already cut down significantly from it’s original size, I wasn’t left with too much.
My first encounter with Culotte on a menu at a restaurant was at Bohemian, a secretive, dine-by-referral-only restaurant that’s nestled in the back of a high-end Japanese butcher shop called Japan Premium Beef.
The cut there is washu, another name for the wagyu cattle from Japan, so it is considerably more tender than most normal cuts of this stuff. The flavor and texture is similar to strip loin, but a bit less grainy and more buttery. I recommend cutting this into small pieces when you actually eat it, smaller than you would for, say, a filet mignon. The larger the piece, the more chewing you will have to do. More chewing means it will feel tougher, and that’s not good.
These cuts can be very simply prepared: sear in a pan with butter, salt, pepper and herbs. Cook to medium rare to preserve tenderness, as the meat grain will tighten up the more you cook it, making the beef tough. Also cut cross-grain to maximize tenderness.
You can see the grain here in this cut. When slicing for plating, you want to cut diagonal from top right to bottom left, against the grain.
Here’s a nice way to serve it after slicing:
Finishing salt flakes really make the flavors pop.
Check out this other butchery video for more detail on slicing methods, with some suggested preparations too:
“Meat in the Middle” (4.8% abv) is a rauchbier that’s brewed with slow-smoked NY State barley. What makes it special and “meaty” is that it’s smoked with cherry wood at Brooklyn specialty butcher and sandwich shop, The Meat Hook.
The beer itself is pretty good. You get a hint of that smoke in there, with a malt-forward beer flavor. Very nice. I tried it in a flight of some other goodies. In this photo, it’s all the way on the left:
The porters and dark beers here are really fantastic:
After working up a little buzz, we hopped on one of the brewery tours and picked up some additional info about the brew process:
By then we were hungry, so we ventured upstairs to try some of the sausages that The Meat Hook was selling.
We tried both the Long Dong Bud and the Beet & Onion sausages.
Check out the color on the Beet & Onion. Incredible! It was really nice, and topped with a kale kimchi type of slaw that really made the flavors pop.
Long Dong Bud was topped with some shredded cheese, and a pineapple relish. It definitely had more of a traditional German type flavor profile, other than the relish.
We were torn on which we liked best. I went one way (Long Dong Bud), and Jay went the other (Beet & Onion). In any event, if you can get over to The Meat Hook and try these, I highly recommend them.
Ben Turley, a butcher from The Meat Hook, gave us a demo of how he breaks down a “rear quarter” of a cow – a beef shank (a back leg).
As he explained what he was doing, he trimmed off various specialty cuts within, like the oyster steak and merlot steak.
Here’s a shot of the oyster steak:
And some various other items like portions of the top round and eye of round.
He parted out the femur bone, too.
The coolest thing about this was that they were just slicing up parts of the lean beef sections and passing it around to eat raw, with just a little bit of salt on top. Awesome!
One of the thicker cuts benefited from just a quick, hot sear:
So this day was basically a dream come true. Good beer, Good food and a dead cow. And Ben basically has my dream job.
Meat 201 is an advanced examination of the four major cuts of beef that you’re likely to see at a steakhouse. The four major cuts are Filet Mignon, Strip Steak, Porterhouse and Rib Eye. For more general information about these cuts, and for information about other cuts of beef, please see my MEAT 101 and MEAT 102 posts.
Etymology: There is some difference of opinion on the origin of the word “Porterhouse,” with several restaurants and cities claiming to have created the name. For example, Martin Morrison served large T-bones in his Pearl Street (Manhattan) “Porter House” around 1814.This history was popular in the late 1800’s, but some say a Cambridge, Massachusetts proprietor by the name of Zachariah B. Porter added his name to the steak. Still, others argue that the Porterhouse name stems from various 19th Century U.S. hotels or restaurants called Porter House, such as the Porter House Hotel in Flowery Branch, Georgia.
Anatomy: The Porterhouse is a cut of steak from the short loin portion of the animal that contains both strip loin and tenderloin meats. See the highlighted portion in the diagram below:
It is cut from a lumbar vertebra that is sawed in half through the vertebral column.
The downward prong of the “T” is a transverse process of the vertebra, and the flesh that surrounds it (spinal muscles) makes up the meat of the Porterhouse.
Essentially, it is a large T-bone steak from the rear of the animal that has two different types of meat (tenderloin and strip loin), one on either side of the “T.” In the picture below, the strip loin or Strip Steak is on the right, and the tenderloin or Filet Mignon is on the left.
The small semicircle at the top of the ‘T’ is half of the vertebral foramen, which is the name of the hole that passes through each vertebra for housing and protecting the spinal cord. They run the whole way up the back, all the way up to the brain of the animal.
The anatomy of a Porterhouse differs from that of a T-bone only in that the Porterhouse contains a larger portion of tenderloin than its T-bone counterpart.
This is primarily due to the fact that Porterhouse steaks are cut from further in the rear of the animal, from lumbar vertebrae, where the tenderloin is much thicker. Experts differ, however, on how large the tenderloin must be to differentiate a Porterhouse from a T-bone. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications state that the tenderloin of a Porterhouse must be at least 1.25 inches thick at its widest, while that of a T-bone must be at least 0.5 inches.
Here is a shot of a short loin with multiple vertebrae still intact and not portioned out into individual Porterhouses and T-bones.
You can see on the left there is a good sized, thick portion of tenderloin. That thins down as you move the the right, and seems to disappear by time your eyes reach the far end of the cut.
Just to drive home the anatomy a little more, here is a great excerpt and image from Russ Cooks:
“Up close and personal, this is where the T-bone fits.
The black line across the top of the two T-bones pictured here is the outside (top of the back) of the steer. You can see the T-bone in the schematic illustration higher up on this page as the topmost part labelled Rib. Above the ribs, what you touch if you pat the steer’s back, is the New York strip. Beneath the ribs is the tenderloin from which a filet mignon is often cut. T-bone steaks cut closer to the shoulder are known as Porterhouse while those cut closer to the loin are just T-bones.”
Preparation: Most times, T-bones and Porterhouses are either grilled, seared in a pan, broiled or blasted with high heat in specialty steak ovens made for charring the outside of the meat without over-cooking the inside. Butter is essential, and heavy seasoning is important as well. Herbs and garlic help boost the flavor too.
Flavor: Since this cut contains both the Filet Mignon and the Strip Steak, I refer you to the flavor sections for those cuts below, with a notation that the bone being left in often adds a more robust flavor while helping to retain tenderness and juiciness. These are very popular items at steakhouses because they can be cut large enough to feed anywhere from two to four people. Additionally, with two different types of meat in one steak, one can vary the flavors that one experiences with each bite.
2. Filet Mignon
Etymology: Filet, in culinary terminology, means boneless. Mignon, in French, means dainty or small. As such, this is a steak ideally suited for chicks: small/dainty, and with no bone.
Occasionally on a steakhouse menu you will see a “bone-in filet.” Given what I just mentioned above, that phraseology is completely self-defeating and confusing, as it simultaneously means both “bone-in” and “boneless.” However, it seems this sort of language is becoming commonplace. If it were up to me, I would prefer “bone-in tenderloin” to be listed on menus instead. There is no wording conflict with that phrasing, and it is an accurate description of what is being presented. In other words: all Filet Mignon is tenderloin, but not all tenderloin is Filet Mignon.
Anatomy: Traditionally, a Filet Mignon was cut from the anterior end of the tenderloin. In the beef chart image below, you can see a portion of the tenderloin section highlighted in red.
That is where Filet Mignon was typically located, though most butchers label all steaks cut from the tenderloin as Filet Mignon (this allows for larger portions). The tenderloins run along both sides of the spine. They taper from thick, in the posterior of the animal, to thin in the front.
In their unbutchered form, they contain what’s called the “silver skin” still attached to the flesh. This is a thick connective tissue that is pretty much inedible. When butchering the full tenderloin, you will want to slice that off (it is NOT tender).
While this next photo is a repeat shot of a lamb vertebra Barnsley chop (the mutton chop from Keen’s), the anatomy is exactly the same for beef. This will illustrate exactly where the filet comes from. Essentially this is a double porterhouse, with a filet and a strip on each side. In addition to understanding the Filet Mignon, this image is useful in demonstrating the anatomy of the Strip and Porterhouse cuts as well, since they all come from the same place – the vertebrae of the animal:
Preparation: Preparations of this cut vary greatly. You may see this cut sliced thin and pounded flat, served raw for carpaccio. You may also see it finely chopped for tartare. A simple pan sear with butter and herbs, however, is probably the most common preparation.
Yet another style is Chateaubriand, which is a large section of the thick portion of the tenderloin that is roasted boneless, then sliced and served with a reduction sauce.
There is also Beef Wellington, which is a portion of tenderloin that has been coated with pate and then wrapped in puff pastry dough prior to cooking.
Flavor: Widely considered the most tender and least fatty cut of beef on the animal, the flavor should be uniform from one end to the other, with very tender and soft texture the whole way through. There is hardly any fat content in the standard cut of Filet Mignon. Some chefs will wrap the filet in caul fat (a lacy, fatty, web-like membrane that surrounds the stomach of an animal) before cooking. The webbing melts away during cooking and imparts a fat flavor into the meat. But it is more common to use things like butter, or to wrap a filet in bacon to add the fat flavor into the meat.
3. Strip Steak
Etymology: According to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, this steak is marketed under various names, including Ambassador Steak, Club Steak, Hotel-Style Steak, Veiny Steak, Kansas City Steak and New York Strip Steak. Delmonico’s offered Strip as a signature dish way back in the early 1800’s. Due to the cut’s association with NYC, the New York Strip Steak name was born.
Anatomy: The Strip is cut from the other side of the tenderloin, across the vertebra on the T-bone or Porterhouse.
Also known as strip loin, the Strip Steak is cut from the short loin part of the animal, from a muscle that does little work, like the Filet Mignon. It is generally more tender than the similarly situated but more posterior-located sirloin section of the animal. While it is essentially the same kind of meat as sirloin, the muscles in the rear do a bit more work than the short loin, so can be a bit more tough.
Preparation: For me, the Strip is best at medium rare, to preserve the tenderness and reduce any mealy or grainy textures that can develop from overcooking. It is always best to get a really great quality cut for this chop, something prime+, as all the intra-muscular fat, or marbling, will become soft and the muscle will tenderize all over. You will often see it marinated or rubbed with spices, to impart additional flavors, but grilling and broiling in the traditional style is fantastic as well, especially with butter and herbs. It can be served bone-in or boneless. Leaving the bone in will impart more flavor and help with the cooking process, since the bone conveys heat into the center of the meat while locking in juices. At home, marinade this puppy in something like soy sauce and garlic, and slap it on the BBQ for a few minutes on each side and you will have the perfect home-cooked steak.
Flavor: This cut contains fat in levels that are somewhat in between the tenderloin (virtually none) and the Rib Eye (plenty of good, melty fat). Like the tenderloin, there is little variation throughout the cut, so the flavors and textures are more uniform for the Strip Steak, unlike the Rib Eye which has varying textures and flavors from one end of the cut to the other. The texture of a Strip can sometimes be a little bit grainy or mealy, and a bit more tight than a Filet Mignon or a Rib Eye – especially if it’s cooked too much.
4. Rib Eye
I’ve saved the best for last. The Rib Eye is the most ultimate of steaks, period. It is an awesome cut of beef.
Etymology: The etymology on this is pretty self-explanatory. The “rib” part of the name is because this cut of meat is connected to a rib bone. The “eye” part of the name is a reference to the circular, more centrally located portion of the cut that is more uniform than the outer portions of the cut. You will likely see the Rib Eye steak, or rib chop, called by many names.
For example, the Cowboy Rib Eye is a bone-in version of the cut:
There’s also the Tomahawk Rib Eye, which is so named for its resemblance to a Tomahawk-style hatchet. When butchered, a long “handle” of rib is cut clean to expose the bone (it is “Frenched,” as they say), and the steak meat is left at the end of the handle to form the hatchet blade:
Here’s a shot of my buddy; he’s about to get clobbered with a Tomahawk Rib Eye by Chef Josh Capon at Bowery Meat Company:
There’s also the Delmonico cut, otherwise known as a Scotch Filet. Applying what you’ve learned here, you can probably guess that this cut is boneless (filet means “boneless” in French). Delmonico’s claims this cut as their own because they named a house special boneless cut Rib Eye steak after their restaurant, way back in the early 1800’s when they first opened.
Anatomy: The rib section of beef spans from ribs six through twelve, and, obviously, hails from the rib section of the animal.
Rib Eye steaks are mainly composed of the Longissimus dorsi muscle (the “eye” portion of the steak) and the Spinalis dorsi muscle.
The more anterior your cut, the more Spinalis you’ll find in the steak. The Spinalis is the coveted cap of meat that wraps around the fatter end of the steak and usually has much more marbling than the rest of the Longissimus eye, or interior of the steak. That “fat cap” is also sometimes butchered away from the remaining eye.
Highly skilled butchers know how to remove it from its position across an entire standing rib roast section of ribs, so as to keep it all together as one giant cut. But then that ruins the rib chop, in my opinion, since you’re taking away the best part. Some steakhouses have taken to tying several Spinalis cuts together in a spiral formation to create an all-fat-cap steak. Bowery Meat Company has one such cut, which they call the Bowery Steak:
STK also offers one on special from time to time:
The Spinalis has a more intense marbling, and, thus, much more flavor and tenderness. If you are so bold, the next time you order a Rib Eye at a steakhouse, ask for an anterior “chuck side” cut that has more of this fantastic Spinalis muscle.
Preparation: There are a ton of ways to prepare a rib steak. The most comon forms are searing in a pan, grilling, or broiling. Another common method of preparing this kind of meat is roasting. A “standing rib roast” is a section of Rib Eye steaks that has not yet been portioned into individual steaks.
When this rack of ribs is roasted slow and low to a pink medium rare, the end product is called Prime Rib.
It then gets sliced out into portions for individual consumption. This is a mammoth cut that we got from Burger & Barrel:
I know what you’re wondering, and the answer is Yes: Prime Rib and Rib Eye steak are the same exact thing. They are just prepared differently, using different cooking methods.
Cheaper cuts of rib steaks are actually the most common type of beef found in Philly Cheesesteaks as well. The meat is cut super thin and then cooked on a flat top with cheese, onions and other toppings, then shoved into long sandwich bread (incase you’re an asshole who has no fucking clue was a cheesesteak is).
Side Bar: is a Philly Cheesesteak better than a Cheeseburger? I think so… Man… Now I’m hungry for both…
Flavor: This steak has a high fat content, and that makes it very important to have a quality cut of beef, or an aged cut of beef. In high quality and aged cuts, this fat will render out or melt away much easier during the cooking process. This will impart a tremendous amount of flavor into the steak, and it will leave the remaining flesh with a very tender and soft texture. Don’t be afraid of the fat. Fat is not the same as gristle. Fat is good. Fat is your friend. Any good butcher will get the gristle off and leave the good fat behind. And when that good fat is REALLY good, it’s like having a delicious beef jelly with each bite of steak.
As discussed above, the Rib Eye is really like having two steaks in one (The small Spinalis or fat cap, and the larger Longissimus eye). The Spinalis is soft, tender, has lots of fat flavor and sometimes develops a crisp during cooking. The eye is more dense, but still well marbled so that it retains intense flavor. The eye is more uniform than the Spinalis. So: two steaks in one, kind of like the Porterhouse. Plus, there’s a nice, meaty beef spare rib to gnaw on at the end, if you order a bone-in chop.
Since there is generally more fat and marbling in this cut across its entirety, you will get better flavors than with the tenderloin or Strip, in my opinion. Clearly, high fat content is not for everyone. If you want to avoid fats in your diet, then go with the tenderloin. I actually really enjoy the flavor of fat. Fat, now, is sometimes referred to as the sixth flavor sensation. There were always four: (1) savory, (2) sweet, (3) bitter and (4) sour. “Umami” claims to be the fifth, and is meant to encompass the earthy, funky, fermented flavor sensations that you experience with mushrooms, truffles, aged beef and blue cheese. I just dislike the word “umami,” so I use “earthy” instead. The sixth is “fat,” apparently, as decreed by various food people who get paid to sit around and do these things. I’m not sure how it works, but I seem to be able to recognize a distinct sensation on my tastebuds, along with a buttery flavor and slippery feel, whenever I eat shit like pork bone ramen or a Rib Eye steak. Maybe there’s something to it?
Anyway, I hope this was an informative and educational post for you meat minions out there. Knowing this shit, I think, is very important.