Steakcraft: Marc Forgione's Deceptively Complex Tomahawk Rib Steak


Behind the scenes of New York's premium dry-aged steaks. An in-depth look at the aging, cooking, and presentation of New York's premium dry-aged steaks from beef expert Nick Solares.

Steak Fact Sheet

Cut: Ribsteak
Grade: USDA Prime
Breed: Black Angus
Dry Aged? 21 Days
Pre-Cooked Weight: 44 oz.
Price: $144, comes with two sides
Price per Ounce: $3.28

"What's more simple than cooking a steak?" asks Marc Forgione rhetorically of his dry aged tomahawk rib steak. And to Forgione it is simple, elemental even. It would be for you as well if your father was Larry Forgione, one of the deans of modern American cuisine, and if you had worked in restaurant kitchens your whole life before opening your own New York Times-rated two star restaurant and a successful steakhouse in Atlantic City.

But as simple as Forgione's steak looks on the plate—there are few dishes more primal than a tomahawk rib steak—the process of getting it there is complex and involves precise timing and technique.

It starts off with USDA Prime beef rib from Creekstone Farms. Forgione tried numerous cuts from the top meat purveyors that were aged for different periods. But after eating a Creekstone steak at Monkey Bar made him involuntarily "lick the plate clean," he went with dry aged product from Pat LaFrieda, a Creekstone supplier.

Interestingly he opted for a 21 day dry age as opposed to the 28 days (or longer) generally favored by steakhouses. Forgione found it tender and flavorful enough, and through skill and craft he manages to imbue the dish with just as much dry aged flavor as steaks aged for longer periods.

He does so by repeatedly reducing and intensifying the steak's inherent flavors and not wasting anything from the ribs he takes in. Whereas a steakhouse generally discards the hard exterior crust that forms on outside of the meat during aging, Forgione renders the fat from it and adds bay leaves, thyme, rosemary and garlic. This rendered fat will then be spooned over the rib steaks and allowed to congeal, forming a layer of fat that is effectively like the caul fat used on a crepinette. Later on it will be used to baste the steak and to cook Forgione's "dry aged vegetable."

Seared all over

The rib steak is trussed to insure that it cooks evenly, and for the sake of presentation, the bone is wrapped in a moist paper towel and then in aluminum foil. The foil protects the bone from burning, and the towel effectively steam cleans the bone to a pearly white. You won't find theses techniques at your average steakhouse.

The chop is aggressively seasoned moments before cooking with Maldon salt and Pierre Poivre n. 7 pepper blend by La Boîte A Epices. Instead of the brute force of a commercial broiler, the tomahawk is cooked in a cast iron skillet. An aluminum foil-covered brick is placed atop during the initial cooking period to ensure an even sear. The result is an impressively thick bronzed crust.

After the sear, the cut is brought to temperature in the oven and is then allowed to rest before being basted in garlic, thyme, butter, rendered dry aged fat, and the residual juices from the rested meat. Repeatedly reducing and folding the flavors back into the dish adds layers of complexity beyond the average steak. The flavor of dry aged meat is surprisingly redolent despite being aged only 21 days, bolstered by the herbaceous punch from the thyme, pepper, and garlic.

You can really taste a lifetime of experience and technique in Forgione's tomahawk. This is a high level cooking, and the result is a deceptively complex and layered dish. It is simple in one regard—It is simply delicious.

See the steak from start to finish in the slideshow »

Restaurant Marc Forgione

134 Reade Street, New York, NY 10013 (map) 212-941-9401

Also served at American Cut 500 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401