“Ingredients make the difference” is a cliche in the food world. Every restaurant says that’s their secret. Most of us home chefs hear that, agree with it, but don’t really get the process of how a steakhouse would choose their steaks & meat. I mean, I know that meat from my grocery deli is better than the aisle cuts. And a local butcher is even better than the grocery store…but exactly how does someone who knows what they are doing…do their shopping?
Here’s a quick tour via Eater of how one steakhouse in New York chooses their steaks.
The tl-dw is that Jody Luger is the VP of Peter Luger Steakhouse and shops at one of the few remaining butchers in New York’s famous Meatpacking District. She hand selects each and every steak that they serve at Peter Luger Steakhouse. Jody gave an inside look at what happens behind the doors of a famous butcher.
In general, she says she wants to see anything to indicate a healthy, well-fed, fat cow. A rounded carcass is better than something slim and stringy. She also wants indications that the carcass was cut well by the processor. Uneven bones and mis-cut vertebrae can make the presentation & cooking of the steak hard to get right. In general, the more fats – that are also well-distributed are better.
She wants to see nice pink color and marbled flecks throughout the meat. When shopping, choosing a steak is more about elimination and comparison shopping than finding “the best” cut. It’s best if you can see all sides and all angles to see how the marbling continues through the meat. You want to check several and rule cuts out based on relative attractiveness. That’s where a butcher or deli is going to help your shopping.
It’s not that you can’t find a good steak or cut of roast beef on the grocery aisle, it’s that a butcher or even a deli will give you a better selection or better odds of getting that excellent, well-marbled, well-colored steak.