The Clever Root

Spring / Summer 2016

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s p r i n g / s u m m e r 2 0 1 6 | 8 1 Merrill Shindler: The biggest steak on your menu was a 42-ounce tomahawk ribeye chop. Were diners complaining it wasn't enough? Marc Forgione: The whole idea was to create a dish to celebrate our one-year anniversary. We'd celebrate 52 weeks with a 52-ounce steak dry-aged for 52 days. It was supposed to have a limited run. But diners loved it. So we kept it on. MS: Did your meat supplier have to leap through hoops to find a 52-ounce steak? MF: As a rule, you get three 40-ounce porterhouse steaks off a short loin. We changed it to one 52-ouncer, and one 40-ouncer. It's served on the bone. People stop and stare when it emerges from the kitchen. MS: Is it difficult to cook such a big hunk of meat? MF: It does take care. You want a nice sear, a real steakhouse char. But you're dealing with a steak that's three or four inches thick, with a giant bone running through it. What I found worked best was to start it in the broiler at 1400 to 1600 degrees. That renders off a lot of the fat. Then finish it in the oven, nice and slow. The bone makes it tricky, because the bone holds a lot of heat. It keeps cooking, even when it's out of the oven. MS: And then it's ready to serve? MF: Not even close. A steak that big needs to rest. It needs to rest a lot. You rest it for as long as you've cooked it. It makes a huge difference. MS: When is it best? MF: Medium-rare. Medium-rare is the classic temperature. The meat tastes best, the texture is best, the juices are flowing. MS: So, do you emerge from the kitchen waving a cleaver if someone dares to ask for medium or, heaven forbid, well-done? MF: I used to get upset. But I've accepted that it's their steak, they're paying for it. If they want it medium or well-done, it's not my decision. MS: How did you decide which purveyor to go with? MF: When we first opened Ameri- can Cut in Atlantic City, I did a blind tasting. I had purveyors send a porterhouse and a ribeye, cooked them all the same, had no idea who they came from. Creekstone Farms in Kansas won hands down. Their beef is grass fed till the last month, then grain fed. MS: Have you ever had a better steak? MF: Once, in Brazil, at a churras- caria. I had a skirt steak that was like nothing I'd had before, or since. It was the biggest skirt steak I've ever seen. MS: Why the flaming bone marrow maître d' butter? Isn't that gilding the lily, as it were? MF: It combines three of my fa- vorite things: bone marrow, maître d' butter and béarnaise. I emulsify the roasted bone marrow with the butter, and add a tarragon and black pepper reduction instead of egg yolks. It's very indulgent. And diners love it. MS: It all sounds so…retro. Like it's nostalgia cuisine. MF: Everything comes full circle. A lot of young chefs like me are going back to the old ways of cooking. Diners love it, especially the blue- cheesy taste of a 52-day dry age. But yes, you have to be health- conscious too. I haven't replaced the Montauk tuna with a cherry to- mato vierge with the porterhouse. They're both there. You make your choice. SERGIO SERAFIN SPERA For Chef Marc Forgione, the bigger, the better. PHOTO: MELISSA HOM ■cr

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