The World’s Very Best Steak?
May 07, 2010
By Steve Cornett
I guess it’s possible.
Some years back, I was forced to spend a few months comparing steaks at the country’s great steak houses.
The idea was to find out what those really good joints do to beef to make it fetch $50 or $100 a steak from repeat customers. I got good enough that I could, for a while there, tell the difference in wet and dry aged beef. That, my friend, is an acquired, rare and enviable talent.
To answer your question, in my opinion—OPINION, that’s all—the best steak I found was at Peter Lugers in Brooklyn.
As I recall, their method involved, first, having an owner meet every meat truck that pulled into New York and take her pick of the high-fed, Prime carcasses coming out of those little corn feedlots in that part of the country. These were swinging carcasses in bobtail trucks backing up to little wholesale businesses that somehow survived the boxed beef revolution. It was like 1957 all over again, as I recall, except the cattle were taller.
But just as, uh, rich in tallow. The worst—measured by marbling--of the beef I saw unloaded from those trucks would exceed the best of what you’ll see hanging in a plant in my part of the world. Well, maybe that’s a bit of hyperbole. But not much. They were some longfed sons a guns.
And then the steaks were dry-aged for a secret amount of time at a secret temperature. And then they were cooked hot and buttery. I’ve been back a few times, on my own dime instead of the expense account, mind you. Never was disappointed. Not only do I say the best steak I ever had—and I’ve got my own mesquite forest, mind you, and there is nothing better to complement steak flavor than mesquite—was from Peter Lugers, I say the second and third best came from there, too.
What brings that up is this book report from Canada. Like I said, it may be possible, but I’d need to be convinced that Glenn Elzinga’s grass fed beef could equal Peter Lugers. My experience with grassfed beef has not been all that impressive, and, without getting too snotty, I believe there might be some culinary placebo effect involved in the perceived taste of “organic,” “grass fed” and other trendy things.
Well, like arugula. Arugula tastes fine if you know it’s arugula and you know the president can’t afford it. But let your wife sneak some in your salad some day and not tell you what it is.
It’s bitter. Plain lettuce is lots better.
But there are so many variables in beef quality from breed to diet to post mortem management, that I sure don’t doubt it’s possible that the Elzinga family raise the best beef in all the world. And I don’t have anything against organic or grassfed beef.
The rich have to eat, too.
At any rate, I don’t know anything about the book under review, and don’t personally plan to order it. For all I know, the author may have found some blind taste tests to back up his claim. But the darned review is so well-written, I thought I’d pass it along.
Steve Cornett is editor emeritus at Beef Today. You can reach him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.