It was Small Business Saturday, and the plan was to support a small business, local to us. That never happened, but we did drive out to Westport, CT, to try the Black Duck Cafe (featured on Triple D a few years back). It was a fine little spot. I mention this because I noticed that right down the street from the Black Duck is Tarry Lodge, the Batali-Bastianich restaurant that I'd long heard about, but never considered driving to. We stopped in for a looksee, and liked what we saw. A bit of googling lead us to the realization that there's another Tarry Lodge, closer to t:e headquarters, in Port Chester, NY. Which is where we ended up for lunch the next day.
And I say all of that to bring me to the Tarry Market, which we found is right next door to the Tarry Lodge in Port Chester. What a great little spot. Artisanal salumi and bacon, great looking vegetables, some ready-to-eat dishes, excellent staff, and a glass-front refrigerator displaying slowly rotting meat. Dry-aged meat, that is to say. I had to get some. At 30 bucks a pound (the same price as the not dry-aged stuff apparently), I thought it was a pretty good deal.
I asked how long the short loin had been holed up in that fridge, and the fella told me "about 50 days." I'm not sure I believe that, as 50 days is quite a long time to dry-age beef. What I do know is this strip steak was incredibly tender, and flavorful, no doubt thanks in part to the butter/fat treatment I like to give steak...
Here's the thing about Peter Luger's steak: it tastes funky. You can really taste the aging on those steaks. I've had dry-aged steak from various sources, at various restaurants, and not one gets to that level of flavor and funk. I started thinking that perhaps that butter sauce of theirs also contains tallow or beef fat. Fat from those big old nasty rotting carcasses. Even if I'm wrong, I've found that this is a great way to get that flavor on your steak. (Update: there has been a lot of recent chatter on the internet around Luger's use of "aged kindey suet." Sounds like the commenter below was on to something. I think kidney suet it just dandy, but short of that, try this). Here's what I do:
Ask your butcher if you can have the scraps that he's cutting off of your dry-aged steak. This might include some meat, some fat, and it will certainly include flavor. The Tarry Market obliged me (as does Sal at Westwood Prime Meats).
Get rid of anything that smells too much like death, or blue cheese, and render down that fat and meat.
You'll end up with a lovely little bit of funky dry-aged liquid fat.
Clarify some butter in that same pot, with those same scraps.
Mix the tallow and the butter together and get ready to cook that steak.
I use a combination of stove and oven when I'm trying to replicate the Peter Luger style of cooking. Get a sear on one side of the steak in a very hot pan. Flip it and get the other side going. You've already salted the hell out of the steak, please. No pepper for me. Fresh cracked pepper is devine, but I'm not sure if burned pepper tastes very good.
In the meantime, have another pan or dish in the oven (or, use the same one you're using on the stove), getting good and warm (but don't have the oven too high, because you'll want to use the broiler to finish the steak).
Take the steak out of the pan, and slice it. That's right, slice the damned thing. No resting, no worries. The meat is still pretty cold and raw-ish in the middle. You've only seared it at this point.
Pour that tallow/butter/funk sauce on top of the steak and throw it under the broiler, really close to the heat source.
It won't take but a minute or two-ish to finish the steak at this point. The butter/beef fat is hot and popping, coating the steak and cooking it from all directions.
Plate your steak, drizzle some of that sauce over it, serve, and savor that funky flavor.
Tarry Market is worth a trip from Bergen county, even if you fools don't plan on following my instructions.
Oh, and I don't recommend that you do this at home. I suppose there's a risk of getting sick or dying or something. There, I said it.
Tarry Market : 179 North Main Street : Port Chester, NY : 914.253.5680