This Father’s Day, say “Thanks, Dad” with something he will truly appreciate: a big, delicious, juicy steak. (Unless your dad is a vegetarian – in that case, check out the sweet potato hash recipe below!)
We spoke to chefs from two of New York City’s top steak institutions, AAA Three Diamond Rated Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse and Gallaghers Steakhouse, for recipes and tips on how to cook the perfect steak worthy of the man that raised you.
AAA members get an extra 10% off Omaha Steaks online and in stores! Learn more.
Choosing a steak
First things first, which is the best cut to use? Chef/owner of Jack’s Steakhouse Willie Jack Degal, explains that while the popular filet mignon is most tender, he favors the boneless New York strip, which he says is typically preferred by men. “[The filet] does not have the flavor and texture of the New York strip…it doesn’t have as much fat and marbling.”
So fat equals flavor? No surprise there! Gallaghers Steakhouse Executive Chef Alan Ashkinaze’s favorite cut of meat is the rib-eye, also because “It’s a lot fattier,” which he says amplifies the taste.
At both restaurants, the porterhouse for two is the best-selling steak on the menu. Similar to a T-bone but with a larger tenderloin, the porterhouse has both the strip and the filet on each side of the bone, combining the best of both worlds to satisfy everyone – dad, mom, maybe even you, if you’re lucky and dad wants to share.
When it comes to quality, the first step to how to cook the perfect steak is choosing the best grade. All meat should be USDA “Prime.” And check that they are stamped that way, emphasizes Degal. “Make sure you are not paying Prime prices and instead receiving Choice!”
Many menus and butcher shops promote aged steaks. Gallaghers especially is known for its dry-aged meat locker, which can be seen from the street and also from a window inside of the restaurant. What is the benefit? “When meat is aged you are removing the moisture, so you are intensifying the flavor of the steak,” explains Ashkinaze. With quality, well-marbled steaks and time, the humidity-controlled environment enhances the character.
Preparing & seasoning the steak
To help promote even cooking, steak should be cooked at room temperature. When very cold meat is put to heat it tends to react, constricting, and making it tough. Ashkinaze recommends removing the steak from the refrigerator one hour before cooking for best results.
When it comes to seasoning, a good steak should always be allowed to shine on its own. Both chefs agree that when working with high-quality cuts and aged meats, minimal doctoring is required, recommending a simple seasoning of kosher salt and black pepper to truly taste the meat.
“Season the steak while it is getting to room temperature,” instructs Degal. “Massage it with the salt and pepper. Don’t be scared to use the fat cap and rub it into the meat. This will melt and enhance the fire and flavor.”
For a kick, Gallaghers uses a sweet chili rub on their aged steaks (recipe below).
Marinades are reserved for inexpensive cuts such as skirt steak or hanger steak, where flavor is not as naturally present. When using these cuts, “a soy-based marinade with agave, sesame, ginger and garlic is very good,” says Ashkinaze.
How to cook the perfect steak
To make steakhouse-quality steaks at home, consider the thickness of the meat and the flavors you would like to incorporate when choosing which cooking method to use.
Degal suggests that thicker steaks (about two inches) are best when grilled and charred on each side to a nice dark brown color. The trick is getting your grill well heated and being familiar with its quirks. “Know your grill and how it operates. What is the temperature and where is the hot spot?”
Smaller cuts work better when pan-seared on the outside and finished in the oven. “I love cooking steak over charcoal and lump wood,” says Ashkinaze, “however, I also like pan-searing the meat in a cast iron pan, then placing in the oven for two minutes with butter, garlic and thyme.”
For steaks that look as good as they taste, try these chef-approved finishing touches:
- Let the meat rest five to ten minutes before slicing depending on the thickness.
- For nice looking tender slices of meat, look for the direction of the grain and cut across it, not with it.
- Serve with seasonal vegetables like asparagus and potatoes prepared your dad’s favorite way.
Willie Degal’s Sweet Potato Hash
- Chop up sweet potatoes small; rinse with water.
- Sauté a little garlic and onions with butter, olive oil, salt and pepper, and caramelize.
- Put the sweet potatoes in a super-hot pan, searing them on all sides. Add the onions and garlic. Cover the pan and let it simmer on the stove for 10-15 minutes.
Gallagher’s Sweet Chili Rub
Provided by Executive Chef Alan Ashkinaze
1 box dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar in the raw
1 1/4 cups kosher salt
3/4 cup paprika
2 Tablespoon black pepper, ground
2 Tablespoons white pepper, ground
3 Tablespoons onion powder
3 Tablespoons garlic powder
2 Tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoons cumin, ground
2 Tablespoons celery seed
1 Tablespoon ancho chili pepper