Our favorite restaurants often share one thing in common. We go there without ever having to look at the menu. We know the moment we walk in the door what we are going to order. There’s the linguine with clam sauce at West Bank Cafe (407 W. 42nd St., New York, NY 10036 at Ninth AvenueTel: 212 695 6909). The steak frites at Bistro Cassis (225 Columbus Ave, New York, NY, 10023 Tel: 212 579 3966). And at Joe Allen (326 West 46th St. New York, NY Tel: 212 581 6464), we inevitably order the Chopped Steak. This delicious charred-on-the-outside, rare-on-the-inside piece of great American beef is one of my favorite dishes on earth. And it isn’t even on the menu.
|The man himself, Joe Allen,|
in front of his Wall of Flops.
|Tables in the bar. The one on the left was|
where Liza sat, followed by Matthew, Jessica
and Nathan. We sat at the one closest
to the window.
Now that I’ve been away from Joe Allen for some weeks, I craved a chopped steak. How difficult could it be? If I made a giant hamburger and put it into the hottest I could get our cast iron skillet, surely I could re-create Joe’s incredible crust and tender pink medium rare center. You would think it would be that easy. Well I am here to tell you, it’s not. Now we have a stove whose burners serve up terrific heat. If anything, I have more difficulty keeping things down rather than heating them up. I would swear Joe’s chopped steak is cooked on a flattop. There are no grill marks whatsoever to mar the beautiful char. But even following the meager instructions I could find –heating the pan as hot as possible, using no liquid of any kind in said pan, I still could not get anything approximating Joe’s.
|If you have a Cuisinart, you have|
a meat grinder.
2 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 lbs. freshly coarsely ground brisket, sirloin, chuck or beef rib
2 tbsp. shallots, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup red wine
1 tbsp. cognac
¼ cup beef stock or broth
2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1. Divide meat mixture into 4 equal parts, then shape each into a large patty. Generously salt and pepper both sides of each patty.
2. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Do not add fat of any kind. When skillet is very hot, add patties and sear until well browned on both sides, turning once, 2-3 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer patties to a warm platter and loosely cover with foil.
3. Discard fat from skillet and return skillet to medium heat. Melt 1 tbsp. of the butter in skillet, then add shallots and cook, stirring constantly, until they begin to brown, about 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high, add wine, and cook, scraping browned bits stuck to bottom of skillet with a wooden spoon, until reduced by three-quarters, about 2 minutes. Add the cognac and cook 1 minute. Add the beef broth and cook until reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Remove from hear and add the remaining 1 tbsp. butter, stirring constantly until butter is melted and sauce is thick and velvety, about 1 minute. Add parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over patties. Serves 4.