The Delmonico – A Steak of Aristocratic Proportions
The Distinguished Delmonico
The Snake River Farms Delmonico is a very rare and exclusive steak with a history of its own. John Kosmidis, COO of Prime Food Distributor (our dry-aging and specialty cut partner), worked in his uncle’s butcher shop as a boy and gave us background into the history of the Delmonico as was told to him when he was 11 years old.
The head butcher at his uncle’s shop had worked at The Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Known for elegance and outstanding customer service, the Waldorf maintained its own butcher shop. One of the hotel’s most esteemed guests was the Prince of Monaco. At that time, as it is today, a visit to NYC was not complete without a lavish steak dinner. The Waldorf’s in-house butchers would prepare for the Prince’s visit by sourcing the finest beef subprimals they could find
Using the full striploin, the special steak was cut from the 13th rib. This is the only rib bone within the striploin complex. This very specific location yielded a steak that was highly marbled, possessed a distinctive texture, and weighed more than two pounds.
The loosely translated French name for this cut is de Monaco or del Monaco in Italian. Assuming these were starting points, we can postulate that over time the name evolved to simply Delmonico.
What is the Delmonico?
The Delmonico steak is cut from the longissimus dorsi muscle where the rib and loin primals converge. Each beef animal has 13 ribs, numbered from 1 at the front to 13 at the rear. Ribs 6 through 12 (7 total ribs) are associated with the rib primal. The 13th rib is part of the loin and this is specifically where the Delmonico is sourced.
The loin primal is where New York strip steaks are cut so the Delmonico resembles a large strip steak. At this point, the spinalis dorsi (or cap of ribeye) and internal swath of fat ends, leaving a solid rectangular section of well-marbled beef.
How Does the Delmonico Taste?
The Delmonico has a flavor that is rich and delicious. Since it is cut from the section between the ribeye and strip steak, it is has a deep beefiness and is exceptionally juicy from its intense marbling. The texture is very similar to a great strip steak – firm and satisfying.
It does not contain the swath of fat that is found in a ribeye, so it is more uniform. This is a bone-in steak, so the meat on the bone side is insulated from the heat and stays very juicy and tender.
What’s the Best Way to Cook the Delmonico?
The Delmonico is a large, thick steak and an ideal candidate for the reverse sear. This can be accomplished using an oven and skillet indoors or a grill set up in 2-zone fashion outdoors. Sous vide, very similar in theory to the reverse sear, is also an excellent way to prepare the Delmonico.
Good results can also be obtained using the steak house method.
Steak House Method
1. Heat oven to 350°Generously season the Delmonico on both sides with kosher salt or your favorite steak rub. Since this is a very thick steak, also season the sides.
2. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add a light coat of neutral vegetable oil, like grapeseed or canola.
3. Place the steak in the hot skillet and sear for 4 minutes on each side. Also, sear the edge with the fat cap for about 2 minutes.
4. Place the Delmonico and skillet in the heated oven. After 5 minutes, flip the steak. Let bake another 4 minutes and check the temperature. A steak of this size may show a good deal of temperature variability so test the temperature in multiple spots.
5. When the steak reaches your desired temperature (rare-110°F, medium-rare-120°F, medium-130°F) remove from the oven, pull from the skillet, set on a cutting board and let it rest. Loosely cover with foil to help retain heat. As noted many times, this is a very large steak and the resting period is more important than with smaller cuts. Let it rest at least 10 minutes. 15 minutes is better. This allows time for the ample juices to be reabsorbed and to lete the temperature throughout the entire steak.
6. Slice and serve. To make slicing easier, cut the bone from the steak. The grain of the Delmonico changes direction from one end of the steak to the other. Find the section where the grain changes direction and cut the steak at that point so you have two pieces. Slice each section of the steak against the grain at a 90 degree angle. This shortens the muscle fibers and makes each bite provide a more tender slice.
This is the preferred cook method for steak fanatics and is an outstanding way to prepare a cut of this significant weight and thickness. The lower starting temperature cooks the meat slowly and evenly so it is ready for a perfect final sear.
1. Heat oven to 250°F to 275°F degrees. Lower temperatures will take longer, but provide a more even cook.
2. Season steak with kosher salt, pepper and/or your favorite rub. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a metal rack on top. Set the steak on the rack. The idea is to elevate the steak from the pan so heat can circulate freely.
3. Place the pan, grill and steak in the oven. Bake until the steak reaches the temperature that matches your preference (rare-110°F, medium-rare-120°F, medium-130°F) using a meat thermometer. Check the temperature in the center of the thickest part of the steak. This will take anywhere from about an 1 hour to 1.5 hours. Since every oven is different, start checking the temperature after 45 minutes. Do not overcook!
4. Once your steak hits your desired target temperature, remove it from oven, loosely cover with foil and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Add a light coating of vegetable oil to a heavy skillet and heat over high heat until hot. Sear steak on each side for 60 to 90 seconds to form a beautiful crust. Also sear the fat cap. Remove from the pan, slice against the grain and serve.
This is a very precise way to cook your Delmonico, but requires minimal effort for a perfect steak. This requires an immersion circulator and a water bath container.
1. Set your immersion circulator to desired temperature (see chart below) and heat water bath. The temperatures for sous vide are higher than for other methods, but are proven to work best for this method.
|DONENESS||TEMP RANGE||TIME RANGE|
|Rare||122 to 126||1.75 to 2 hrs.|
|Medium Rare||129 to 132||2 to 2.5 hrs.|
|Medium||132 to 135||2 to 2.5 hrs.|
2. Season the Delmonico with salt and pepper and seal with a food sealer or place in a zip lock freezer bag and remove excess air by placing open bag in water bath and then sealing.
3. Place sealed bag into the sous vide tank. See above chart for cooking time range. It's fin to cook the steak for up to 3 hours.
4. Remove steak from the bag, place on a cutting board or rackand remove excess moisture with paper towels or clean kitchen towel. Season with salt.
5. Place a cast iron or other heavy skillet on burner. Add a neutral vegetable oil and heat over medium high heat until the oil starts to smoke.
6. Add the steak to the pan and sear on all sides so that the entire cut has a nice brown crust. Since the steak is already cooked, the goal is to get a savory brown crust on all surfaces as quickly as possible.
7. Remove from the skillet, allow to rest for a few minutes.
8. Slice against the grain and serve.
If you prefer the flavor of grilled meat, here’s how to cook your Delmonico in the great outdoors. Any grill works, as long as it can be set up with a hot side and a cool side.
1. Season the Delmonico liberally with kosher salt. You can also add your favorite rub, like the Snake River Farms Steak Seasoning.
2. Set your grill up for two-zone cooking. For charcoal grills, arrange the hot coals to one half of the grill. For gas grills, turn the burner on one side to a medium low setting. The idea is to turn the covered grill into an oven. If your grill has air vents, close them to about half to keep the temperature lower.
3. Place the Delmonico on the cool side and close the lid. Check the internal temperature of the steak frequently. Flip the steak each time you check. The cool side of a grill radiates heat from the bottom and occasional turning will cook the steak evenly.
4. When the steak reaches the desired temperature (rare-110°F, medium-rare-120°F, medium-130°F), remove it from the grill. Lift the lid and open the vents to get the grill up to high heat. For gas grills, turn the heat to its highest setting.
5. Rest the steak on a cutting board for at least 10 minutes while the grill comes to temperature.
6. Quickly put a final sear on the steak on the hot grill.
7. Remove and allow to rest for a few minutes.
8. Slice against the grain and serve.
Slicing the Delmonico
Cut the bone from the steak. The grain of the Delmonico generally not even throughout the entire steak. Find the section where the grain changes direction and cut the steak in half at that point. Take each side of the steak and slice against the grain – that is cut at a 90 degree angle so the muscle fibers are shortened. This will provide a more tender slice.