Saturday, March 26, 2011

Kingsford University: Manhattan Fillet 101

Quick!  Off the top of your head give me three words that describe a perfect steak.

Chances are two of the words were thick and juicy, right?

The problem is that if you cut a NY Strip steak to 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, you end up with over a pound of steak and that is just too much to eat for most people.  I learned just the trick for that at Kingsford University - The Manhattan Fillet.

Snake River Farms' Executive Chef, Alan Turner, gave a demonstration on working with cuts of beef.  One of the new cuts was breaking down an American Waygu beef strip loin into the Manhattan fillet instead of strip steaks.  The resulting cut yields 10 oz fillet and a 6 oz petite fillet.  This gives you the thickness you crave AND the portion size that you want, while saving money too. 
Chef Turner shows the Manhattan Fillet at Kingsford U

I brought my Flip video camera but had left it back at the hotel room.  Still kicking myself over that one.  So as he talked, I scribbled notes furiously.

The notebooks they gave us came in handy!

Last night I applied the lessons learned  when Alexis brought home a 10 lb strip loin.  It was packaged as USDA Choice and certified Angus but it was more like Select to me.

Like Darth Vader said to Admiral Motti  "I find your lack of marbling disturbing."
See the difference that their American Waygu beef makes? 

First order of business is to find the "good end" of the loin.  Just like the "first cut" from a whole ribeye, a strip loin has a better part for steaks.  One end of the strip loin is what Turner called the "nerve end" and that has a bit of connective tissue.  You can see the grain of meat change there and you can feel it.  If you look at my drawing in the notes, that circular area is the nerve end.  Cut that off and use it for steak sandwiches or a small roast.  

Then, using a very sharp knife, slice the "tail" off of the strip loin and save.

Slice off the top strap and save.

Trim off the excess fat and silverskin.  Save the fat.

At this point, Chef Turner sliced the loin lengthwise.  I went the route of cutting the thick Strip steaks first.

Then I broke them down into the two fillets each.  

Because of how I cut them, my fillet were 8-10 oz fillet instead of the two sizes Chef Turner does.

I ended up with twelve fillets, worth the $60 cost alone.  But I also had a 2lb roast leftover.  I picked the lean meat from the tail and top strap to make a few beef kabobs for the boys.  Last but not least, I rendered some of the fat to produce a cup of tallow.  


Did I do it expertly and perfectly?  No, but I did fairly well and I learned along the way.  Next time I'll feel more confident in my knife work, I find tentative cutting leads to bad butchery.  You have to move purposefully and at speed, but that only comes with practice. 

Chef Turner showing off his bisected strip loin before portioning into fillets.

We ate a few last night and then vacuum sealed most of ours in packs of two for freezing and grilling later.  If you are having a steak cook out with a bunch of friends, this would be THE way to go.  For other ideas about grilling for parties, don't forget to check out

Speaking of grilling get togethers......

Blogger Get Together
Last year, a handful of Smoky Mountains area bloggers got together at Larry Doolittle's (Big Dude's Eclectic Ramblings) lakeside retreat for lunch, socializing, and fun on the water.  It was so much fun that we've decided to do it again!!!!   The theme is going to be Texas BBQ.  More details are forthcoming.