Dining

Here's the Beef

Chefs are embracing steak and so much more at restaurants around the country
Photos: Lizzie Munro/Tasting Table
Rib eye steak

We know beef never really went anywhere—burgers and steak are timeless—so don't have a cow when we say that beef is back, baby.

We started noticing it about a few months ago, as a spate of newfangled steakhouses opened in NYC. But now, beef seems to be everywhere in new and interesting ways, with chefs trimming cuts way beyond the standard NY strip and using every last bit of fat.

At one of said steakhouses, Bowery Meat Company, chefs Josh Capon and Paul DiBari turn the deckle cut, also known as the ribeye cap, into the restaurant's signature Bowery steak. They roll, tie and grill it, which makes the finished product look shockingly similar to a filet mignon but with a lot more marbling—you know, the stuff that really amps up flavor.

Beef neck, a relatively tough cut, is also moo-ving on up: It's braised and served in a ginger-laced bone broth soup at Marco Canora's new NYC wine bar, Fifty Paces, and pecan-smoked and served with charred brassicas at Houston's Underbelly.

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And in San Francisco, chef Chris Cosentino is serving a custom-cut Niman Ranch pinbone steak as a large-format item at his new restaurant, Cockscomb. It's a cross section of the cattle's hip—and, unsurprisingly, the gargantuan piece of meat can feed up to four people.

"We chose this, because there's a neglect of certain cuts," Cosentino says. "The pinbone steak has a ton of marbling. And because it has multiple sections of tenderloin, the top loin and the sirloin flap, you get different flavors, because they're different muscles."

He seasons the meat with the restaurant's custom steak rub, grills it over wood, then serves it on a giant slab with a fish sauce-spiked bone marrow dipping sauce and a cow's head-shaped pitcher of beef jus. Cosentino, a well-known advocate of cooking with odds and ends (his social media handle is @offalchris), also uses suet, or beef fat, to make crust for meat pies.

That's a relatively traditional use, but beef fat is also working its way onto menus, edging duck fat out of the competition as the fat of the moment. At Carrino Provisions, his new Italian market, cafe and osteria in Jersey City, NJ, chef Dale Talde makes a smoked beef butter to smother his rib eye for two—but he also throws the fat rendered from the rib eye trimmings into a dish where you wouldn't expect to find a trace of meat: a seafood pasta.

He finishes his campanelle with red wine-braised octopus and puttanesca sauce (see the recipe) with a spoonful of the beef fat; it isn't overpowering, but it does add a welcome hint of richness to the otherwise sharp, briny sauce.

"Aged beef fat has a beautiful funky quality. It's unctuous," Talde says. "Puttanesca has some aggressive flavors, so the beef fat mellows it out."

Talde's also experimenting with making lardo with the fat, curing and aging it in the restaurant's basement. "We don't know how it's going to turn out; we may end up grating it onto dishes," he says.

Lardo shavings: It's what's for dinner.

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