You’ll Only Need a Few Minutes to Cook This Best-in-Class Steak
It’s inspired by one of chef Greg Kuzia-Carmel’s favorite “hidden treasures”
The txuleta steak at Bar Nestor in San Sebastian, Spain, is legendary, one of just a handful of dishes the tiny Parte Vieja restaurant serves. Here, each diner selects their steak from a platter of raw sirloin; the behemoth of beef is then cooked to order over hot coals. Chef Greg Kuzia-Carmel remembers it well.
“The first time I went to Bar Nestor was with the kitchen team at Mugaritz on one of our evenings off from the restaurant,” he says, referencing the two-Michelin-star restaurant where he worked in 2010. “It’s a bit of a hidden treasure, and I was fortunate to be in great company on my first trek and have made the pilgrimage there on all of my subsequent visits to San Sebastian.”
Because he now lives on the other side of the Atlantic, however, Kuzia-Carmel has another means of getting that phenomenal flavor, with a steak he serves at his own Canteen in Menlo Park. The dish begins with the steak itself, a three-inch strip cut directly through the supporting bone structure and seasoned liberally with Borrometi coarse sea salt from Sicily. Seared in a screaming hot black steel pan coated with a thin film of olive oil, the beef, Kuzia-Carmel says, takes on a “deep, mahogany-colored Maillard crust.”
After the sear, any remaining grease is drained off and replaced with a savory combination of butter, garlic, thyme and rosemary. These aromatic additions become the base of a basting liquid, which continues to cook the steak until it reaches an internal temperature of 108 degrees. “We like our steaks a bit on the rare side,” Kuzia-Carmel says. “Feel free to cook further if you’d like.”
Once the temperature has been reached, it’s time for this baby to rest. Kuzia-Carmel recommends just five minutes before it’s ready to serve. “We carve the steak off of the bone and slice it (thinner is my preference),” says Kuzia-Carmel. He likes to finish it “simply,” with a “healthy drench” of punchy Frankies 457 olive oil and a good “three-fingered” season of that crunchy sea salt.
A steak this size, the chef says, “comfortably serves two to four guests, though an ambitious individual might eschew that direction.” And while it certainly doesn’t need accompaniments, a tapas-driven mindset means all manner of sides is possible. Kuzia-Carmel is a fan of salt miners potatoes, hasselback eggplant or gambas al ajillo to echo the Mari i Montana mindset. And of course, the perfect wine is a given.
“Older Rioja is fantastic,” Kuzia-Carmel says, who also offers the suggestions of Left Bank Bordeaux or Napa Cabernet. “Extra points for something with some elevation and some age.”
Whatever you choose, be sure you allot time for a postprandial siesta — you’ve earned it.
Canteen’s NY Strip Steak “a la Bar Nestor”
- 1 bone-in New York strip steak, roughly 2 to 3 inches thick
- Borrometi coarse sea salt
- Canola oil
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- Fresh thyme sprigs
- Fresh rosemary sprigs
- Frankies 457 olive oil
Season the steak liberally with coarse sea salt, and heat a heavy, black steel pan as hot as possible.
Add a thin film of canola oil, and sear the steak. When it has developed a deep, mahogany-colored Maillard crust, flip it and sear on the other side.
Drain the “spent” cooking oil from the pan and introduce a few knobs of good butter, garlic cloves, thyme and rosemary. Allow those to melt and become aromatic and fragrant.
Baste the steak until a prod with a thermometer registers roughly 108 ºF for a rare steak.
When you’ve arrived at this temperature, remove the steak from the “roasting and seasoning” fat and reserve on a draining cooking grate very briefly, only about 5 or so minutes.
To serve, carve the steak off of the bone and slice it thinly. Finish with a healthy drench of olive oil and a good “three-fingered” season of sea salt.
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