“There are very few things you can’t do at home,” muses Chef Ashish Alfred, owner of Fells Point’s new Duck Duck Goose, and that includes making his signature côte de boeuf. The chef has had a love affair with meat since age 5, when his father “accidentally burned the house down” and the family was put up at the then-swanky Holiday Inn.
“I was eating New York strip and shrimp cocktail for breakfast,” he recalls with a laugh, noting that he didn’t really have good steak again until his brother’s high school graduation years later.
With the second location of his modern French brasserie (the first DDG is in Bethesda), Alfred, who goes by Chef Al, wants Baltimoreans to have that same sort of protein-positive experience, merging fabulous French cooking with a cool, casual environment. “Two or three people can sit around the table and break bread over this big piece of meat that’s as French and technique-driven as you can get, then have a couple shots of banana Jameson after dinner.”
If you’re more inclined to try at home, he’s happy to share his secrets: “You can’t just use table salt instead of kosher salt or store-bought ground pepper instead of breaking your own peppercorns,” he cautions. “And the cardinal sin is that people don’t rest their meat. It’s very important to rest your meat!”
The côte de boeuf is Chef Al’s custom bone-in ribeye for two, locally sourced and butchered by Fells Point Wholesale Meats. Custom cuts like these can be found in some specialty stores and ordered from most butcher shops. Also, remember to buy beef broth from the butcher for a richer, thicker and more flavorful sauce. Stock from the grocery store usually has little to no gelatin and will not thicken enough when reduced.
2 stalks of celery
Herbs, spices, aromatics such as thyme, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorn, garlic
1/2 gallon beef stock
1 cup red wine
Clear oil such as vegetable or canola
1. The sauce should be prepared in advance, as it takes more than three hours to create. Heat a small amount of oil in a wide pan until just barely smoking and throw in celery, carrot and onion. Allow enough time for the vegetables to cook to a tender consistency and become thoroughly browned. A brown-black fond (pronounced fawn, meaning “base” or “bottom” in French) should form on the bottom of the pan.
2. When the vegetables are cooked and caramelized, add all of the red wine. Be careful not to add wine over an open flame.
3. Reduce the wine until almost dry in the pan (or au sec), scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to incorporate the fond into the sauce.
4. Once the wine is reduced, add the stock and aromatics and reduce by half. Strain this liquid and slowly simmer, skimming off any foam, until reduced about 90 percent. Two quarts of gelatin-rich beef stock should yield one quarter to one cup of red wine jus.
32-ounce “cowboy” bone-in ribeye
1. Take the steak out of the fridge to rest and bring up to room temperature for a more even cook. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2 Pat dry with paper towels to provide an even crust when searing the steak. Then generously salt and pepper both sides.
3 Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium-high with some clear oil until it is very hot and the oil is smoking. Place the steak down carefully to avoid splashing hot oil. Let sit untouched for several minutes to sear. Check to see that it has attained a dark brown, even crust and flip the steak. Leave to sear for a few minutes before adding thyme, a clove of garlic and a handful of cubed butter. Baste the steak with the foaming butter a few times and put the whole pan in the oven. Using a probe thermometer, remove the steak when the temperature is a few degrees before the desired temperature. In this case, remove the meat when its internal temperature reaches 130 degrees and the steak will carry over to a nice 134 degrees.
4. Rest the steak at room temperature before slicing and serve with a piping hot side of red wine jus.