Delmonico's

Courtesy of Delmonico's

What’s Black and Red and Charred All Over? My Dad’s Perfect Steak at Delmonico’s New York

One of New York City’s most iconic steakhouses is one of the few places to gets this order right the first time, every time

Having grown up in New York City and dined in some of its best steakhouses with my dad, I have seen steaks go back, and sometimes back again, more times than I can count. My mom and I would sit with our dishes in front of us and wait, and he’d tell us to please go ahead. Apparently, charred on the outside and medium rare on the inside, or “black and red,” is a very tall order for many kitchens. But one restaurant has always gotten it right over the years: Delmonico's.

Courtesy of Delmonico's

For nearly a decade, executive chef Billy Oliva has helmed the iconic kitchen of Delmonico’s, birthplace of the Delmonico Steak, Lobster Newburg, and Baked Alaska.

 

He explained how Delmonico’s achieves a perfect “black and red” in an interview with The Daily Meal.

 

What is the secret to cooking a steak that is charred on the outside and medium rare on the inside, also known as black and red?

A super-hot pan and personalized attention. For those trying this at home, you need a good pan — cast iron or stainless — that has a nice flat surface. Let the pan get hot. When you think it’s hot, leave it to heat up for another five minutes. Also, you must constantly watch it.

 

Courtesy of Delmonico's

Why is this such a tricky technique for steakhouses to master? In other words, why has my dad been sending back steaks for so many years?

It’s really all about a super-hot pan and watching it with a close eye. If your pan isn’t hot enough, you just end up frying the steak. Also, kitchens are often so busy that it’s hard to pay close attention to any one single steak order, especially one that takes so much care.

Do you have any advice for people attempting to cook their steak this way at home? Ditto for any steakhouse chefs?

You should let your meat sit out to reach room temperature, and use the thickest cut possible. Coat both sides of the steak with butter and season both sides with salt and pepper to taste. We don’t add any additional oil to the pan. Once you put the steak on the pan, you can see that it goes into a “shock” and it tenses up as the pan is extremely hot. Very, very lightly press down on it to flatten it. This will help get that nice even char. Do this for five seconds at most. Don’t press too hard or you’ll force the juices out. You can see that after a while it relaxes. After pressing it lightly, leave it alone! Don’t play around with it until you flip it over.

 

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