Written by Steve Mosco, firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 02 August 2013 00:00
Steak exists in grand simplicity.
After a complex and precisely-timed aging process, a proper steak easily gives way to minimalist meal measures — a quick char on both sides, cooked to order and served overlapping its plate’s boundaries.
While chicken has its merits and pork holds the promise of bacon and a variety of other enchanting cuts, carnivores will always go back to their first love.
They will always go back to steak.
And meeting that primal desire is a bevy of steakhouses and butchers across Long Island, all with meat on the mind and succulence in the heart.
Along Northern Boulevard is Long Island’s famed steakhouse row. Stretching through Roslyn and Great Neck, steakhouse row boasts well-known and high-end names Bryant and Cooper, 2 Middle Neck Rd.; Peter Luger, 255 Northern Blvd.; Burton & Doyle, 661 Northern Blvd.; Morton’s, 777 Northern Blvd.; and the slightly more eastern Rothmann’s, 6319 Northern Blvd. in East Norwich.
Besides that boulevard of bovine dreams, Nassau County is dotted with steakhouses offering great cuts of meat for every price range.
For those looking to cut into some value, Majors Steakhouse offers a variety of mid-priced steaks. With two locations, 284 East Meadow Rd. in East Meadow and 8289 Jericho Tpke. in Woodbury, Majors has meat lovers covered.
On the pricier side of the cow, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, 600 Old Country Rd. in Garden City, offers USDA Prime steak that arrives in front of diners on a sizzling 500-degree plate.
Then there is Frank’s Steaks, with locations at 54 Lincoln Ave. in Rockville Centre and 4 Jericho Tpke. in Jericho. Frank’s is a Zagat Rated restaurant since 1988, with the publication reviewing it as, “The best skirt steak on Earth,” while calling it, “The Cow’s Meow.”
Another venerable steak joint is Hudson’s Mill, 5599 Merrick Rd. in Massapequa. Offering four different cuts of beef, Hudson’s specialty is a 20-oz. bone-in rib-eye, which many call the champion among cuts.
Even moderate steak lovers know that serving meat bone-in adds a dimension of flavor that boneless cuts just cannot match
But with more than 500 pounds of meat on the average beef cow, choosing cuts can be an arduous process.
Much like comparing the superpowers of characters in the Avengers, choosing the best cut of meat depends on preference and situation. There are times when turning green with rage is far more effective than technologically advanced weaponry. Similarly, a T-bone might be better suited than a filet mignon for certain cooking methods.
This is America, where individuality reigns supreme and the country’s founding fathers granted citizens certain inalienable rights — surely, steak preference is among such liberties.
But still, the facts cannot be denied. Some cuts grill better than others, while some are perfect for stews or sandwiches. Favorites are allowed, but experts believe each cut should be utilized in a way that accents its strength.
Birch Hill Market has been the go-to place for Locust Valley meat eaters for about 12 years. A butcher, market and catering business, it sits at 153 Birch Hill Rd., where owner Tom DeAngelis holds court dispensing meat and imparting carnal knowledge on his customers.
“Every steak has its own unique flavor,” said DeAngelis, who recently opened a second Birch Hill Market location at 29-31 Jackson Ave. in Syosset. “The more you try, the more you can recognize the differences in every steak. You have to take into account what flavor you’re looking for, how you want to cook it, who you’re shopping for and if you want a fatty cut or a lean cut.”
At both of his markets, DeAngelis sells prime cuts dry-aged for at least 60 days. Bones and fat work to protect the meat, as a striking blue mold grows all around it.
“After you trim the mold and the fat from the cut, you are left with a beautiful, creamy looking piece of meat,” he said. “The coloration of the steak will make your mouth water. It has a nutty smell, almost like cheese. There’s a complexity of flavor, a real depth.”
Dry-aging requires a strong, robust cut of beef, according to DeAngelis. The bone-in rib-eye steak is at the top of this class, with an almost artistic marbled pattern signaling a bold, rich, beefy flavor.
But DeAngelis also recommends a bone-in sirloin. He said this underused cut boasts less fanfare than the rib-eye, but it is no less mouthwatering.
For those looking for a more subtle flavor profile and less fat, DeAngelis recommends his selection of grass-fed, hormone-free, organic beef. From Painted Hills Natural Beef, a three-generation farm in Oregon, this selection provides eaters with a clean, farm fresh flavor profile.
“You bite into one of those cuts and you can taste the freshness of the animal’s environment,” said DeAngelis. “It doesn’t have the complexity of the dry-aged, but it’s a clean finish.”
As for the how-tos of cooking a steak at home, DeAngelis said every piece of steak responds well to grilling. For the Birch Hill butcher, a simple fire and a hot pan is all a home chef needs to create meat magic.
“You shouldn’t let a summer go by without getting every cut of meat on a grill,” he said. “Skirt steaks are always delicious on the grill. Flank steaks are great too, grilled and sliced onto a salad, you can’t go wrong.”
Besides those safe beef bets, DeAngelis recommends customers try his current favorite, the chuck club-eye. For a fraction of the price of a rib-eye, the chuck club-eye needs only a simple grilling to achieve maximum flavor.
The importance of the customer-butcher relationship cannot be understated, according to DeAngelis. He eats the food he sells and he wants his customers’ families to enjoy the same quality, for each and every meal, without spending a fortune.
“You don’t have to spend a fortune to put a wholesome meal on the table,” he said. “Get your food from someone who knows about food. Skip the supermarket, or just go there for paper towels.”
Whether eating at one of Long Island’s many steak houses or enjoying a home-cooked cut of meat, Nassau County boasts a butcher’s block of options for every primal palate.