Steakcraft: The Meaty Details of The Breslin's Rib Steak
Steak Fact SheetCut: Rib Steak
Grade: USDA Prime
Breed: Black Angus
Dry Aged? 28 Days
Pre-Cooked Weight:26 to 52 oz.
Price: $4 per ounce, comes with chips and béarnaise sauce
If Rosie the Riveter were alive today and interested in food more than factory work, she would work the kitchen at The Breslin. April Bloomfield's brawny, meaty menu has all the hallmarks of a macho butcher-driven restaurant—big meaty cuts are offered in a stripped-down, somewhat austere dining room, of raw wood and dim lights. There is certainly an evocation here of the Beef Steak, the 19th century fraternal (men only) banquets that anticipated the modern steakhouse.
But Bloomfield brings other sensibilities to table. There is a finesse that only a trained chef could muster and a decidedly personal grace. Bloomfield is adept at turning convention on its head. She didn't scrap the overtly masculine, brigade notion of the classic kitchen by stripping away the hierarchy; rather, she co-opted it.
Take Christina Lecki, the head chef at The Breslin. She is short with a soft voice, friendly face, and a wry smile. Yet she commands the kitchen with the authority of a Brigadier. When her knife goes missing or the chips are not cooked adequately she has no problem taking the culprit to task. She cooks whole animals and bastes giant slabs of meat in their own fat. But like Bloomfield she's clear and precise in her movements and technique. That goes for cooking the steak, too.
The Breslin takes in whole 28-day dry aged USDA Prime rib sections supplied by Pat LaFrieda. The beef is from either Diamond Creek Ranch or Creekstone Farms and the chine bones have been removed so that the steaks can be cut by hand—otherwise the primals are untouched.The steaks are fabricated in house and the left over aged fat is rendered and used for sauces and stocks.
Once trimmed, the rib is only seasoned with kosher salt—Bloomfield and Lecki feel that pepper becomes scorched and acrid if added at this stage of the process. Fresh ground pepper is added only after the steak is cooked.
The seasoned steak is seared "dry" in a Swiss steel pan—the meat cooks in the fat from its own fat cap, and the fat then bastes the steak as it continues to cook. Only once the meat is seared all around its side edge is it ready to be seared face down.
Unlike the "set and forget" practice of using a steakhouse broiler, the rib steak at The Breslin is tended to the entire time it cooks. Lecki constantly moves the steak around the Swiss steel pan, basting it as necessary to fill in in any spots that might need browning. The result is one of the the most gloriously bronzed steaks I have ever seen.
When asked why the steak is moved around so much, Lecki responds, "I want avoid the thick grey band that develops if you leave it in place." Indeed, despite the incredible sear it hardly extends beyond the edge, leaving rosy inner flesh from edge to edge.
The steak is allowed to rest after cooking and is presented whole at the table before being whisked back to the kitchen for carving. Once sliced it is seasoned with Jacobson's salt, black pepper, and lashings of olive oil and lemon juice before being artfully arranged on a cutting board and served with thrice-cooked chips and Béarnaise sauce.
Take a look through the slideshow to see how it is made.