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IN A JIFFY: 10 steps to a steakhouse experience

What’s old is new again. In the case of restaurants, the simplicity of the steakhouse is once again resonating with restaurant-goers.

In Nova Scotia, The Keg remains the standard amongst the populace, while Halifax’s CUT continues to be the more conventional interpretation of the white linen, classic steakhouse with The Barrington Steakhouse and the newly opened Chop Steakhouse in the Sutton Place Hotel nipping at their shank … I mean heels.

With their collective commitment to professional service, it may be hard to imagine replicating the experience at home, but you can bring the flavours of the steakhouse to your next dinner with friends, and you can do it in a jiffy, or at least in 90 minutes or less.

5 places to buy great steaks

The Free Range Store, Bedford

The ultimate farm-to-table experience. Don’t be surprised if the farmers supplying you the chicken and beef are in the store with you. In addition to local grass-fed beef expect to find homemade gluten-free sausages, a selection of house-made prepared foods, some of the plumpest free-range chickens around and produce from neighbouring farms. To quote myself after cooking and eating their rib steak, “OMG.” Insider’s tip: delivery days to the store are Tuesday and Friday. I will see you on Tuesday afternoon, after work.

1181 Larry Uteck Blvd.
Bedford, NS

Masstown Butcher

Local beef and a smorgasbord of other options including dry-aged steak options. The meat is beautifully displayed and the surrounding store is full of cooking tools and condiments. Bonus: a cheese shop is buttressed against the store and the legendary Masstown Market is just a stone’s throw away.

10622 Nova Scotia Trunk 2, Masstown, N.S.

Chophouse Steaks

This home delivery option delivers only the best steaks. These steaks are so good, few restaurants can afford to carry them. Chophouse sells USDA Prime (including dry-aged options), Japanese and Canadian wagyu beef. Expect to pay for quality.

Online and 4 Dominion Cr., Lakeside, N.S.

Fuego Diablo

Fuego Diablo was an early entrant into the direct-to-home premium steak business, and its roots are right here in Nova Scotia. Expect expertly-packaged meat and you receive a 10 per cent discount on your first order when signing up to their newsletter.

Online. Halifax N.S., and Ottawa, Ont.

Fresh on the Fly, online,

CUT Steakhouse offers its premium beef packaged with their spice kit and other herbs and spices you need to cook a great steak. Their Burger Feast box option even comes complete with gourmet buns and all the fixings you need for a gourmet hamburger night.

Online. Halifax, N.S.

Mark DeWolf sears the perfect steak and seasons it with salt, pepper, butter, garlic, and thyme.  Contributed
Mark DeWolf sears the perfect steak and seasons it with salt, pepper, butter, garlic, and thyme. Contributed

10 steps to steak night

  1. 90 minutes prior to dinner preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. 75 minutes prior to dinner place potatoes in oven.
  3. 60 minutes prior to dinner prep your Brussels sprouts, chop shallots, prepare garlic, slice and score mushrooms.
  4. 45 minutes prior to dinner, remove steaks from refrigerator. Sauté pancetta and set aside.
  5. 30 minutes prior to dinner, place cast iron pan for steak on heat. Remove potatoes from oven and mash following instructions in our double baked potato recipe.
  6. 25 minutes prior to dinner, toss Brussels sprouts in olive oil and place in oven then start steak.
  7. 15 minutes prior to dinner return potatoes to oven.
  8. 10 minutes prior to dinner remove steak from pan and let rest. While steak is resting, making your pan sauce, sauté mushrooms and make broccolini.
  9. 5 minutes prior to dinner remove Brussel sprouts from oven and toss with pancetta. Place on platter and finish with lemon juice.
  10. It’s dinner time. Place steak on a cutting board, drizzle with pan sauce. Place vegetables in serving dishes. Open a bottle of wine and enjoy.

The menu

  • Perfect rib steak
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts with pancetta
  • Broccolini with Parmigiano
  • Sautéed king mushrooms
  • Double baked potatoes

The pairings

A good rule of thumb when pairing steak to wine: the chewier the meat, the bigger and more tannic the wine. Cuts like ribeye and striploin cooked rare or medium-rare are best with robust reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon.

As for which one to select, Chile continues to offer great value, but be willing to go premium to get the tannins your steak craves. I find some of the best value Cabernet-based wines emerging out of Washington State. They aren’t cheap, but they often overdeliver on the price to quality ratio. Alternatively, look to regions where they have their own steak and wine culture. Argentina is a classic example; Tuscany also has a long tradition of beef and red wine. Chianti Classico Riserva makes a great choice.

  • While beer doesn’t have the advantage of tannins, malty dark beer styles such as porter, stouts and brown ales offer a complimentary flavour profile.
  • Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile (NSLC, $21.99, NLC, $22.49, PEILCC, $21.99)
  • Charles & Charles Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State (NSLC, $21.99)
  • Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva (NSLC, $28.98, NLC, $27.98, PEILCC, $25.49)

Local ribeye is seasoned with sea salt and pepper before being seared. - Contributed
Local ribeye is seasoned with sea salt and pepper before being seared. - Contributed

The recipes

Perfect ribeye

4 to 6 Servings

1 ½ tbsp olive oil

2 large boneless ribeye steaks

Sea salt

Coarsely ground pepper

2 tbsp butter

3 cloves, lightly crushed garlic

2 sprigs thyme

Directions: Remove steaks from refrigerator 45 minutes before starting. Use this time to make your side dishes. Season the steaks generously with salt and crushed pepper. Really work it into the steak. Set a pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil. When the oil is smoking add the steaks to pan. Place steaks away from you to avoid splattering oil. Sear for 5 to 7 minutes (total time will depend on thickness of steak) until golden brown on one side. Flip the steak, add the butter, garlic and thyme and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Baste the steak constantly with the butter. Remove from pan and set on a baking rack to rest for 12 to 15 minutes (1 minute resting time for every 1 minute of cooking time). Cook for 2 minutes per side longer for medium or 4 or more minutes per side for well-done.

Pan sauce

2 shallots, finely diced

Garlic, from steak pan

Thyme, from steak pan

1/4 cup Port or red wine

1/4 cup beef stock

1 tbsp butter

Directions: Make a quick pan sauce using the same cast-iron pan as used to cook the steak s). Reduce heat to medium-low. Add shallots and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Deglaze with Port (or red wine). When Port is half its volume, add the beef stock and reduce by half again. Finish with butter. Strain, if desired, before serving.

Classic steakhouse-style double baked potatoes are seasoned with Parmesan cheese. - Contributed
Classic steakhouse-style double baked potatoes are seasoned with Parmesan cheese. - Contributed

Double baked potatoes

4 Servings

4 large russet potatoes

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 F. Wrap potatoes in tin foil. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven. Slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out flesh of potato, leaving a ¼-inch around the edges. Add butter and grated cheese to the potatoes, and mash until smooth and creamy. Return mashed potato to half of the skins. Discard other skins. Place on a baking sheet and return to oven for 15 minutes.

Roasted Brussels sprouts with pancetta

2 lbs Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed, trimmed, halved

3 tbsp olive oil

1 cup pancetta, cubed

1/2 lemon, juice

Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Toss Brussels sprouts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a large baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes then flip. Continue to roast until well browned and tender but not soft. Meanwhile, sauté pancetta in a pan set over medium heat until crispy. To finish add pancetta to sprouts and toss. Place on a serving platter and squeeze lemon over top.

Light charred broccolini season with Parmesan.  - Contributed
Light charred broccolini season with Parmesan. - Contributed

Broccolini with Parmigiano

3 tbsp olive oil

2 bunches broccolini

1/4 cup wine

1 clove garlic, minced

Pinch salt

Pinch cracked pepper

1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano

Lemon wedges, to serve

Directions: Place a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add 2 tablespoons olive oil and then the broccolini. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant (about 30 sec,onds). Add the wine and cover the pan. Let the broccolini steam for 3 minutes. Remove cover. Return to high heat. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until broccolini are slightly charred. Place on platter. Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano. Serve with lemon wedges.

Sautéed king mushrooms

8 king mushrooms sliced lengthwise

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1 clove garlic, minced

1 sprig thyme

Directions: Score the inside of the mushrooms with a crisscross pattern. Place a pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Place mushrooms in pan inside-side down. Sauté until mushrooms are golden brown. Add the butter, garlic and thyme. Baste the mushrooms for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.

Mark DeWolf is a connoisseur of all things food and drink. He's a creative director with SaltWire and local fare is his specialty. You can subscribe to his Follow a Foodie newsletter here.

Watch Mark whip up seasonal plates in his video series, In a Jiffy, and go deeper with food trends and kitchen challenges weekly 


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