New York strip steak might not be quite the culinary icon of the Big Apple that pizza by the slice or bagels with a 'just a schmear' of cream cheese are, but you’d be hard pressed finding a New Yorker willing to part with theirs. It’s a New York restaurant staple and for good reason.
Strip steak is a succulent cut of beef from the short loin behind the cow’s ribs. Because this muscle doesn’t have to do very much work, the resulting cut of meat has next to no marbling, which makes it incredibly tender.
It isn’t quite as tender as the cut above it on the animal, but that’s why the tenderloin is called the tenderloin and the short loin isn’t. It still comes a close second, and makes for a tasty, boneless cut that’s easy to cook evenly and has a beautiful mouthfeel.
The strip steak’s association with New York began around 1837, with the opening of Delmonico’s Restaurant on Beaver Street. The short loin steak was offered as one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, under the name of the Delmonico steak, but it wasn’t long before it became a city-wide favourite. Delmonico’s is still going to this day, so be sure to swing by if you’re ever in the city to try the famous Delmonico steak for yourself.
By the way, New York isn’t the only city associated with strip steak. Kansas City strip steak is pretty much the same thing, and you’ll also hear it referred to simply as top loin, and even hotel-style steak, due to it being a favourite in the hotel and restaurant industry worldwide, not just in New York and Kansas City. That’s because it isn’t just a great tasting cut, but it’s a great looking one too. It doesn’t take much for a skilled chef to prepare a strip steak that looks as good as it tastes.
But it’s not hard to make a great New York strip steak at home either. All you need to cook it is a decent grill, a high heat, and a little seasoning. Oh, and some good steak searing technique. Cooking your own hotel-style steak might look easier written down than it is in practice, but you should be cooking strip steak as well as most New York restaurants in no time. Here we’ll guide you through the process, and also show you how to improve the flavour ten-fold with compound butter once you’re confident.
How to Cook the Perfect New York Strip Steak at Home
The secret to making a great New York strip steak at home is to start with the best quality ingredients you can find – especially when it comes to the cut-off meat itself. If you have a local butcher, buy from them instead of the supermarket and benefit from their expert advice. Otherwise, you want to look out for a short loin steak that’s bright red and at least 1 ½ inches thick (a little under 4 cm).
You’ll need to season the steak at least 30 minutes before you start grilling. Give them a liberal sprinkling of coarse salt on both sides and allow them to sit at room temperature for a short while.
At this point, you’ll also want to decide whether you’re using compound butter, as you’ll need to prepare it before you start grilling. This step is optional but will elevate your strip steak to another level. Once you start doing it, we can assure you that you won’t go back.
Anyway, using the compound butter is quite simple. You’re going to rest the cooked steaks on it later, so get it ready now by spreading some on a large plate or serving platter.
Now fire up your grill to around 900°F / 480°C. It needs to be very hot because you don’t want to cook the steak for long. Be sure that the grill has fully pre-heated, then pop your steak directly on the grate.
At this heat, you’ll need to grill for approximately 5 minutes on each side (give or take, depending on the steak’s thickness). Remember, though, if you want to achieve those aesthetically pleasing criss-crosses, then rotate the steak 45 degrees halfway through cooking on each side (between 2 to 3 minutes).
Once your steak is off the heat, you’ll want to let it cool for a few minutes. If you’re using compound butter, this is where it comes into play. Pop the steak on top of the prepared compound butter and let it rest for about eight minutes.
Once that’s done, slice the steak, sprinkle it with black pepper, and serve.