Congratulations to Al P. for winning the Fleming's Steakhouse Gift Card!
Last year, I set up a fun event at Fleming's Steakhouse at L.A. Live for my dining group where Chef Partner, Calvin Holladay, did a very informative Steak 101 class where we learned about selecting steaks, cutting and prepping the steaks as well as some great grilling tips. There was a lot of information and I took as many notes as I could. Hopefully, I'll be able to share what I learned in this post and even more so, that I got the info correct.
One of the first things Chef Holladay mentioned was what to look for in a steak when purchasing it. Simply, the steak must have a bright red suface, a good marbling and a firm texture. Afterwards, he gave a demonstration of how to cut a Rib Loin into steaks. When cutting this piece of meat, other than a sharp knife, you also need a large cutting board. To hold it in place, either take a wet rag and put it under the board or get a slip mat. The last thing you want is that cutting board slipping and you getting a cut.
After he cut the Rib Loin into steaks, he gathered them together in his hand and cut off the fatty tail end of the meat, which could be saved to later grease the grill. Chef Holladay also mentioned that the loin side of the beef wasn't as fatty as the chuck side of the beef. Another term he brought up that I never heard of before was "Deckle". I found a lively discussion about it on eGullet and also at this link. Chef Holladay described it to us as the fatty area around the Rib Eye and basically, it goes up to where the Rib Eye ends to where the New York Steak starts.
After slicing off that fatty end of the steaks, he placed them on a tray lined with a peach colored paper. Apparently, there was actually something special about this paper. This peach colored paper is made from peach skins, which has an enzyme that helps to keep the steak red. You can ask your local butcher for them or you can also purchase them here.
Those steaks were going to be part of our lunch so those were put aside and now we got to see what different cuts of steak looked like and also what the differences were between some of them. For example, we learned the following:
New York Steak: a t-bone with the tenderloin and bone cut away. Not tender like a filet and not as fatty as a rib-eye. Basically, where the Rib-Eye ends, the New York Steak starts.
Filet Center Cut (or Filet Mignon): tapered, small end of the tenderloin. Tender, but with a light marbling so not as flavorful as other cuts of meat. The part of the filet that starts from the neck and goes towards the middle is sometimes referred to as Chateaubriand while the filet towards the tail are referred to as Tournedo. There's also a Bone-In Filet where you can get the Filet Mignon with the bone.
Porterhouse: on one side is a bone-in strip steak while the other side is a portion of the tenderloin.
Rib-Eye: the boneless cut of prime rib. With its rich marbling of fat, it is one of the most flavorful and juicy of steaks, although not as tender as the tenderloin. You can also get a Bone-In Rib-Eye for additional flavor.
When it comes to prepping your grill, as mentioned earlier, you can use the fat to grease the grill's surface or wrap a towel around some kind of utensil, dip it into oil and oil the grill that way. Once you've added the oil, shut your grill to let it heat up. Once you open it and see that the smoke that coming out is white, the grill is hot enough to cook your steak.
The one thing that Chef Holladay emphasized is that we shouldn't "play with our food", meaning that we shouldn't keep flipping the meat over and over every few seconds. Once the steak seems caramelized enough, than you flip it over. A general rule of thumb is 1 to 2 minutes per side. So after laying the steak on the grill, wait a minute and while still on the same side, turn it at a different angle to cook for another minute. This will give you great grill marks on your steak. After those 2 minutes, flip the steak over and repeat. Once there is a blood pool coming from the steak, the steak is going from a medium rare to medium. If you'd like to your steak more well done, turn it over again for another 1 to 2 minutes and so forth.
To test the doneness of your steak, you should feel the surface of your steak either with your index finger or a flat-sided utensil. We were actually shown a way to get a steak to our liking based on comparisons with our hand to the steak itself. For example, open your palm and touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your pinkie. Then touch the area below your thumb while it's in that position with the index finger on your hand. You'll notice that the area feels very firm. If your steak also feels very firm, it's well-done, so it goes as follows:
Thumb to Tip of Pinkie: Well-Done
Thumb to Finger Next to Tip of Ring Finger: Medium
Thumb to Tip of Middle Finger: Medium Rare
Thumb to Finger Next to Thumb: Rare
Open Palm: Raw
Once you've gotten your steak to where you want it, let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes after you take it off the grill before cutting into it. This will allow the juices to flow to the center so that you'll have a nice juicy steak. Keep in mind though that the longer you grill your steak, the less juicy it will be.
Chef Halladay mentioned that if the steak is of really good quality, you don't really need to season it too much and if you are going to season it, just use salt and pepper. Simply, just before you grill your steak, liberally sprinkle salt and pepper evenly on both sides of the steak. Don't be shy about covering the entire surface. As the steak is grilling, the salt and pepper turns into a golden brown crust that you could scrape away once you remove the steak from the grill.
Overall, Chef Halladay was a fountain of information and I definitely learned a lot more than I expected. After our class, we sat down to lunch starting with Rosemary Sourdough Bread with Champagne Brie and Roasted Tomato Herb Butter and Wine. That bread was really quite addicting, especially with the brie.
Our sides consisted of Sauteed Mushrooms and the Fleming's Potatoes with cream, jalapeños and cheddar cheese. The potatoes could have used a tad more jalapenos, but that's just my personal preference since I enjoy food with a kick, but the cheesy goodness of the potatoes more than made up for not enough jalapenos.
Finally, we got to try two different cuts of steak, the New York Steak and the Boneless Rib-Eye. Look at the perfect pinkness of both steaks to see they were cooked just right. When eating them side by side, you can really tell the differences with the Rib-Eye definitely being more flavorful and juicy, but the New York Steak was one of the best ones I've had in awhile.
Overall, this was a great learning experience. Chef Holladay really knew his stuff and that was really reflected in the steaks at our meal. I would definitely come back to the Los Angeles Fleming's Steakhouse location for meaty meal worth having and would even be open to checking out some of their other locations as well.
Fleming's Steakhouse at L.A. Live
800 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Click here to see all the Fleming's Steakhouse locations!
Guess what? I'm hosting this event again for my Dining Group. Click here to RSVP and to get info on how to pre-pay for this Steak 101 Class and Lunch at Fleming's Steakhouse in L.A. Live.
(Open only to US Residents)
Armed with this new steak knowledge that I hopefully imparted to you, here's your chance to check out Fleming's Steakhouse for yourself where you could win a $100 Fleming's Steakhouse Gift Card for you to enjoy! This Gift Card will good for any Fleming's Steakhouse location in the US.
There are multiple ways to enter, so check them all out below.
1. Leave a comment and tell me why you'd like to win the $100 Fleming's Steakhouse Gift Card. (Please leave your email so that I can contact you. Spell it out like abby at pleasurepalate dot com)
2. Follow Executive Chef Russell Skall on Twitter (if you aren’t already doing so)
3. Follow Wine Director, Marian Jansen op de Haar on Twitter (if you aren't already doing so).
4. Fan Fleming's Steakhouse on Facebook (if you aren’t already doing so)
5. Tweet: Win a $100 Gift Card from Fleming's Steakhouse via @pleasurepalate: http://bit.ly/9naPpx
You can have up to 5 total entries each; however, please note that you have to comment back and let me know which of the actions you took, so that I can keep track of them. This is especially true for 2 through 4. If you don’t let me know which actions you took, then I won’t count them as entries.
Contest ends Tuesday, April 13 at 11:59 AM, PST and a winner will be randomly chosen from all entries. Open only to US Residents. Good Luck!