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  1. I'm usually cooking a tenderloin, and make a glaze using apricot or fig jam, and some lemon zest. If I get more ambitious I'll stuff the tenderloin with a bit of dried or fresh (depending on if they're in season) figs or apricots, along with some finely chopped walnuts. With the fig mixture, a little gorgonzola goes well in the stuffing too.
  2. Interesting. I've never heard of that, but it reminds me of a similar out of the box and bottle party snack from my youth growing up in the South - a block of cream cheese with pepper jelly on top (with Ritz cracers of course). This was always popular too. As for myself, I am guilty of serving "pigs in blankets" with mustard as an hors d'oeuvre. And yes they are the frozen kind from a box at the supermarket. People have made fun of them, but I've noticed those same people sneaking seconds and thirds. I've never had any left over.
  3. Very interesting, thanks for posting all that! A few questions for you. What kind of immersion circulator is that? I'm guessing they are super expensive, but curious anyway. What exactly was the mixture you used to promote the Maillard reaction? Where did you come up with this? I really like the idea of being able to do something like this, as I sometimes want to serve more than six people out of my tiny NYC kitchen, but don't have the burner and oven space to do enough steaks and get them out simultaneously.
  4. I tried the original method from the Ducasse article last night on two strips. One was a nearly 2.5" thick cut from Ottomanellis on Bleecker St. and the other a 1.5" cut from Florence butchers on Jones St. The thinner steak cooked quite quickly, after only about 6-7 minutes a side it was slightly overdone to medium. One thing I'm finding is that the internal temp of the steaks can really shoot up quickly after about 110 degrees, and overcooking them can be a matter of a minute or less. I think from now on, I'm going to take them off at 120 degrees. I'm cooking at a setting of 4 on my Gaggenau ceramic range, but maybe this is still too hot. The 2.5" steak took much longer to cook. After browning the edges for 8 minutes, it took about 12 minutes a side to get the steak to medium rare. At that point, the outside had begun to develop a bit of unpleasant char, despite replacing the butter in the pan twice. I suspect that if I had left the steak out of the fridge for longer (it was out for maybe 30 minutes), I would have had better results. So far, I've had the best outcome using this method with ribeyes cut 2" thick. That to me seems the optimal cut for both flavor and ease of preparation using this method. I was also interested in a quality comparison between Ottomanellis and Florence butchers. The strip from Florence Butchers looked like it had been aged slightly longer (the butcher said they age a minimum of 21 days), but was not quite as nicely marbled as the strip from Ottomanellis. I and my friend who ate the steaks agreed that the Florence cut had a slightly more mineral "dry aged" flavor, but overall preferred the Ottomanellis steak. Ottomanellis also charges $1 or $2 less per pound, so I'm going to continue using them as my regular butcher.
  5. I'll throw in a vote for the newer outpost of Szechuan Gourmet on 56th St and 8th Ave. Same menu as 39th but consistently better food and service, plus a nicer atmosphere.
  6. How thick are those? And if you have one, please post a picture of them when cooked!
  7. I never know what to tip sushi chefs either. I often give my usual sushi guy a $5 (in addition to a regular tip on the bill)and he seems happy. He also hooks me up with special tastings and the best fish of the day, so I think it helps. Either that or it's just because I always sit at the bar and ask for the same chef. I guess tipping the butcher is unusual, or maybe it's a NYC thing.
  8. I tried this method again last night on similar 2" thick Ribeyes. I set my stove lower to begin, at "4" on the dial of my Gaggenau ceramic coil range. I was using two pans, a small cast iron skillet for one steak and a Demeyere stainless for the other two. After browning the edges for 8 minutes, I did 8 minutes the first side and 7 on the second side, then checked temp. The cast iron skillet steak was definitely cooking faster, and I could feel that the pan just got hotter at the same setting than the Demeyere pan. At my first temp check with my new thermometer (a CDN instant read digital)the steaks in the Demeyer pan were only at about 105 so I left them on for the full ten minutes on the second side. When I took them off and checked the temp again they were already cruising past 135F. They still tasted good, but again were closer to medium than medium rare. Clearly the timing is absolutely crucial, as it seems the difference between medium rare and medium is only maybe a minute. I may indeed have my pans too hot, it's just hard for me to believe that I need to use a setting of "3" on my stove. The pans just don't seem very hot at that setting and I was worried I would get enough browning. Next time I'll try it at 3 or 3.5 and see what happens.
  9. For those of you who go to an old school butcher who cuts everything to order, do you tip them? If so how? Would you do it by total price of the purchase, the number of steaks cut, or just some regular amount like a $5 bill? My butcher often takes a good 15-25 minutes carefully cutting and trimming my steaks. I generally tip him $5 or maybe $10 if it's a larger batch of steaks (say over $100).
  10. So before I go out and buy an IR thermometer, is there any way I can I use a regular meat or cooking thermometer to check the pan temperature? Maybe just touch the end of it to the pan, or is this futile? I'd really like to know my pan temperature and then experiment with the time it takes to cook the steak to different levels of doneness. If I can get this down and know the exact setting/time on my cooktop to get my usual pan to the desired temp, and if I get the same steak cut at the butcher, in the future it should be easy to cook by time and not have to deal with thermometers at all.
  11. Maillard reactions actually start much lower that that. From Modernist Cuisine (3-90): To give a quick recap of the Ducasse/Shaw method: Starting with the fatty edge, sear the steak on all sides, taking about ten minutes total. This usually means two minutes per surface, more or less. Reduce the heat of the pan and add a big chunk of butter. Return the steak to the pan and baste frequently. Cook ten minutes per side, turning just once. Rest the steak for 15 minutes. Combining all of that with McGee's observation that frequent flipping mitigates overcooking (something I've tested and found to be true), and I'm tempted to alter the Ducasse/Shaw method by monitoring the pan temperature more closely, trying to keep it around 300°F, and flipping every minute to allow the meat surface to cool a bit before dousing it in butter again. Interesting, I had no idea the Maillard reaction started that low. So I wonder if a pan temp of around 300F would be ideal. It might take a bit longer but cook the interior of the steak more evenly? As for your recap of the Ducasse/Shaw method, I'm now confused on step 1. I thought step 1 merely meant searing/reducing the fat on the narrow sides or edges of a thick steak, and that this was done at the same temp as the later steps. I didn't see anything about searing all sides of the steak on a higher temp and then reducing heat for the butter cooking/basting. I'm going to have to get some more steaks and experiment a bit. I think I'm going to try this method with only 7-8 minutes a side to see if I can get a true medium rare.
  12. Felonius

    Best Steak

    I've eaten at all the places you mentioned except for Minetta and BLT Steak. My current favorite NYC steakhouses: Luger' and Wolfgangs - overall best quality/most flavorful steak on any given night (assuming you like their style, which is Porterhouse cooked with butter) Strip House - steaks close to or as good as Luger's, but with much better side dishes, service and atmosphere. It has a sort of darker/sexier decor, and would be my first choice if I were taking a date or female companion. Keen's - The steaks may not be quite as good as the previous places mentioned, but they are still excellent and consistent (get the Porterhouse for 2 or 3 people). I also really like the historic atmosphere of the place which dates back to the late 1800's. The service is very polite and professional, so much better than the usual NYC steakhouse bad attitude. The best part of all is that they allow BYOB with only a $20 corkage fee. They are also very friendly about it and will decant your wine at the table. Since I like to drink great red wine with my steaks, but hate paying 3-4x markup, Keen's is my new favorite. Their house wine list isn't that interesting or extensive, so bring your own. You might call ahead to make sure what you're bringing isn't on their list, as that's the one supposed house rule (though I'm not sure they'd enforce it). And don't bother ordering the hash browns here, they're not very good. Ask for a plate of extra crispy fries which are much better. Smith and Wollensky - I still like the back bar for a more casual steak night, and it's raucus local bar scene. IMHOP the only steak to get is the double sirloin for two. It's far and away the best steak they serve. I never bother with the front/main part of the restaurant, if I want something more formal like that I'd go to Keen's. Sparks - This was my favorite Manhattan steak house years ago. I've been twice recently after a long hiatus and was disappointed. My steak was overcooked both times, and not as good as the ones I remembered having here 7-8 years ago. For the purposes you described I'd choose Strip House or Keen's. In my experience, celebrity spotting (other than the occasional sports star) isn't very usual at steak houses. That's more of a trendy or super-high end restaurant thing. Go for Strip House if you want a more "clubby" atmosphere where you might actually see a few attractive women (who will unfortunately be on dates with other men). Go to Keen's if you want to be able to bring some special birthday wines and not break the bank.
  13. Yes the UES Wu Liang Ye has closed. I tried to go for lunch a few months ago.
  14. Steven, I too miss the Grand Sichuan from Hell's Kitchen. I've never found the one in Chelsea to be quite as good. My current favorite is the new branch of Szechuan Gourmet on 56th st between Broadway and 8th. After eating at both this one and the original Manhattan location on 39th street dozens of times, I prefer the uptown location. I usually go for lunch as the prices are so much cheaper than dinner. I suspect part of the problem with the 39th st location is that it's been so busy after a bunch of rave reviews in the NY Times, etc. I think their cooking sometimes suffers and can be inconsistent. The uptown location puts out more consistent food in my opinion, has a nicer atmosphere, is never too busy at lunch, and if I remember correctly the lunch special prices on some items are cheaper by a dollar or two. Some of my favorites items are shrimp in garlic sauce, shrimp with asparagus and minced pork, tripe in sesame sauce, and wontons in chili oil. The Kung Bao Chicken is fine, but for some reason I don't like it as much as the version at the defunct Grand Sichuan on 50th st. I've been waiting for the Grand Sichuan to open on Amsterdam, and now I need to go try it. Thanks for the heads up. And has anyone ever figured out the relationship between the various Grand Sichuan locations? I can't believe the one on 2nd Ave in the 50's is related to the one in Chelsea, as the food and menus are so different. I think the one in Chelsea is much better. However, the orange flavored chicken at the 2nd Ave location is the one exception - it's my favorite version of this in the city.
  15. Thanks for the tip. I've never seen an infra red thermometer but will have to try one. Assuming I can now measure my pan temperature, this begs the question of what would be the ideal temp for the Ducasse/Shaw cooking method? I think I remember reading somewhere that the Maillard reaction in beef starts at or above 310F, so I'm guessing this would be the low limit for the slow cook in the pan method. Someone earlier in the thread did some sort of calculation to come up with an estimated temp of 170C (or 340F) in Fat Guy's pan. Has anyone using this method actually checked their pan temp?
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