Behind the Scenes

Steakcraft: Harold Moore's Sous Vide Porterhouse at Commerce

Slideshow SLIDESHOW: Steakcraft: Harold Moore's Sous Vide Porterhouse at Commerce

[Photographs: Nick Solares]

Steak Fact Sheet

Cut: Porterhouse
Grade: USDA Prime
Breed: Black Angus
Dry Aged? 40 Days
Pre-Cooked Weight: 40oz.
Price: $124, comes with creamed spinach, hash browns, and steak sauce.
Average Price per Ounce: $3.10

"I know it looks like our menu is all over the place but within the dishes themselves there is incredible focus" says chef Harold Moore of Commerce Restaurant. A perusal of his menu confirms that it is indeed thematically diverse—schnitzel is sold alongside classic Italian pasta and a Korean style pork chop shares menu space with a chicken for two that would be the pride of any French kitchen.

Then there is the steak which is a clear homage to Peter Luger and the classic New York steakhouse. "I love Luger's and Keen's" says Moore unequivocally. Even though Commerce is not a steakhouse, the chef wanted a dish that replicated the steakhouse experience.

Chef de Cuisine Carsten Johannsen and chef/Owner Harold Moore.

That is easier said than done when your work space is small and you lack a commercial-grade broiler, not to mention a wildly diverse menu that demands much of the kitchen. The solution to the problem turned out to be in the bag. Moore cooks many of his large proteins sous vide, then sears them individually for service. Not only does sous vide cooking produce a uniformly tender cut of meat, but the the protein can be cooked ahead of time and then brought back up to temperature in the sous vide circulator before being seared, saving the cook time and last-minute effort.

Moore uses USDA Prime beef that is dry aged for 40+ days by butcher Pat LaFrieda. He wanted the flavor and tenderness of prime beef but opted for a longer age period than the standard 28 days because he loves the increased "richness and complexity" that the process creates, despite a slightly dryer steak. The raw steak is seasoned liberally with salt, pepper, and a secret rub and is then sealed in plastic with a dollop of duck fat and a sprig of thyme. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to cook the steak through in the sous vide, which Moore serves at 140°F, around medium rare. The steak is then finished on the flattop to sear the outside. It is served with a béchamel-based creamed spinach, a golden disk of hash browns, and a hearty homemade steak sauce.

Take a look through the slideshow to see how he does it.

About the author: Nick Solares is a NYC-based food writer and photographer. He has published Beef Aficionado since 2007, with the stated purpose of exploring American exceptionalism through the consumption of hamburgers and steak. He has written over 400 restaurant reviews and feature articles for Serious Eats since 2008 and is a special features writer for the AM New York newspaper. You can follow him on Instagram (@nicksolares) and Twitter (@beefaficionado).

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