Hippo Manchester
September 22, 2005

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Steak: it’s what’s for dinner, again

News flash: Southern New Hampshire invaded by purveyors of red meat

By John “jaQ” Andrews 

Red meat. There may be nothing so primally satisfying, so joyously primitive. And there is no more high-class way to enjoy it than a dignified steak.

Whether it’s the rising tide of affluence in the southern Granite State or just the next hip trend, steakhouses are becoming more prevalent around here. Chains like Outback and Texas Roadhouse have cropped up in recent years, adding to the small gaggle of locally owned ones already here.

If you’re not quite hungry yet, but think you might be in a couple months, there are two new steakhouses opening in November: Buckley’s Great Steaks, 438 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, and Hanover Street Chop House, 149 Hanover St., Manchester (coincidentally, Hippo’s old office location).

“It’s something we’ve been thinking about for years,” said Steven Clutter, currently executive chef at CR Sparks in Bedford. Hanover Street Chop House is a new venture by the owner of CR Sparks, and Clutter will be cooking there as well. They couldn’t find the perfect location until recently, when the building opened up. (From all of us in our new office here, guys, you’re welcome.)

Clutter called the steakhouse the “classic American eatery.”

“They like a great pizza and they like a great steak,” he elaborated. Clutter said he uses prime cuts of beef from the top two to five percent of all cattle and looks for a tender texture and a good marble, or slender lines of fat running through the meat.

From there, he keeps it simple. The meat has its own flavor to express, so he keeps seasonings to a minimum, sticking with salt, pepper and “a couple other things.” He might dab on some roasted garlic or prepare a garlic shallot rub, but on the whole, a good hot grill is all that’s needed to make an awesome-tasting steak.

Chef Yash Pal of The Tenderloin Room at the Chateau, 201 Hanover St., Manchester, has some very strong ideas of his own about what makes a steak great. (And, as a bonus, his restaurant is open now.) He’s particularly critical of chains that marinate the heck out of beef; he says that robs the meat of its real flavor.

The alternative is time-consuming, but well worth it. First, the meat must age in a refrigerator for four to six weeks. During this time, it’s still in the shrink wrap from the butcher. Then it’s exposed to the air and dry aged for another eight to ten days, so that the blood can start settling and drying. The meat will lose 12-15 percent of its water in this period, so the true flavor can come out.

“When you eat steak like that,” Pal said, “even if it’s rare it won’t bleed on the plate.”

This dried beef is darker than the bright red you might see on meat that’s turned around and cooked as soon as it’s off the truck. Dried beef also cooks faster, so a rare cut might take as little as two minutes on each side to cook.

Silo’s Steakhouse, 641 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, brushes each of its steaks with garlic butter. Other than that, it’s the same simple philosophy shared by the other steakhouses: cook and enjoy. They serve five beef steaks straight up, and even offer a buffalo steak when it’s available. The prime rib is available in three different sizes — 10, 14 or 18 ounces — or your own custom size.

But they don’t stop with simple cuts. Their steak tips come in Bourbon Street, Tuscany and Maple-Mesquite flavors. Portsmouth Tenderloin is served with asparagus, shrimp and bearnaise sauce. Big Bleu sits atop bordelaise, wild mushrooms, roasted shallots and Vermont bacon; it’s topped with gorgonzola cheese stuffing.

For a different twist, visit a Brazilian steak house. They actually serve more than just beef, but serve it in a different way. After you’ve finished your salad and/or appetizers, waiters bring you skewers of meat to devour. They keep bringing it until you tell them to stop.

Of course, man does not live on steak alone. What goes well with that reddest of red meats?

Clutter revealed that the wine list of the Hanover Street Chop House will include a large selection of cabernets and merlots, as well as any other wine you can imagine. As for side dishes, how about a nice homemade lobster macaroni and cheese? Yeah, thought you’d like that. Silo’s gives you a choice of a classic baked potato, fries, rice or homemade stuffing with each steak meal.

The Atkins diet may be fading from vogue just a smidge, but hey, when was the last time you heard the phrase “mad cow?” Sounds like a good time for steak.

 

FOOD SIDE

Steak tips

Steak Sense Steak Sauce has a great website (www.steaksense.com) plugging its product and providing loads of information about steak in general. Ever wonder what all those differently named steaks are? The site has the answers, as well as a cheery diagram of a hapless cow, deconstructed into its component edible parts.

• Chuck: Cut from the shoulder, most of this meat becomes ground beef. One notable cut is the blade steak, which is very tender, flavorful and inexpensive.

• Rib: Here you’ll get Prime Rib and its boneless counterpart, Rib Eye. The latter is also known as a Spencer or Delmonico steak. Both are marbled generously for a lot of flavor.

• Loin: The most famous and expensive steaks burst from here. Tenderloin is very, well, tender, though not the most flavorful of cuts. Its thickest portion is called Chateaubriand. Filet mignon begins life as a Tenderloin cut. The Top Loin goes by many names, including strip, New York Strip, Kansas City Strip, strip loin, shell steak, Delmonico (yes, again), boneless loin, boneless club and sirloin strip; it’s very juicy and flavorful. The T-Bone has a tenderloin on one side of the bone and a longer top loin on the other. A Porterhouse is pretty much a T-Bone with more meat.

• Sirloin: Top Sirloin cuts have a long, flat pin bone and are very tender. A smaller version, called the Cap Steak, is good for grilling or pan frying and might also be referred to as a culotte steak. The Triangle Tip comes from the very bottom of the sirloin section and is best cooked at least ¾ of an inch thick.

• Round: These are cut from the hind legs, and are generally used with marinades rather than as steaks on their own.

• Flank: Flank Steak, also known as London Broil, has good flavor but is very tough. If you cook it past medium rare, you risk a very chewy, difficult meal.

• Plate: Here you’ll find the skirt steak, or fajita steak. Do the math.

• Brisket & Fore Shank: No steaks here. These front leg muscles have worked too hard their whole life. You know, holding up a cow. Them suckers are big.

 

Where to dine

Though many area eateries have steaks on the menu, here are a few that make meat their  centerpieces.

• Buckley’s Great Steaks (coming in November), 438 Daniel Webster Hwy.,

Merrimack, 424-0995

• Chateau Restaurant, 201 Hanover St., Manchester, 627-2677

• Gauchos Brazilian Steakhouse, 62 Lowell St., Manchester

• Hanover Street Chop House (coming in November), 149 Hanover St., Manchester

•  Sabor Brasil, 42 Canal St., Nashua, 886-5959

• Silo’s Steakhouse, 641 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 429-3118

• Shogun Japanese Steak House, 545 Daniel Webster Hwy., Manchester, 669-8122

• Tokyo Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar, 166 Daniel Webster Hwy., Nashua, 888-8200