Some one has said, "There is as much difference between beefsteaks as between faces, and a man of taste can find as much variety in a dinner at the Beefsteak Club as at the most plentifully-served table in town".
The difference between a thick and a thin steak is particularly marked - the former seems like an altogether different dish from the latter. Some may like their steak well done, but it is not a taste to be commended. A perfect steak should be cut one and a half inches thick, and cooked so that on both sides it has a crust one eighth of an inch thick of browned meat, the rest being an even red color. It should be puffed and elastic from the confined steam of the juices. When the steak is over-cooked the steam and the juices have escaped, leaving the meat dry and tasteless. The three best sauces which are served with steak are first the maitre d'hotel and then the Bearnaise and mushroom sauces. Tough beefsteaks can be made more tender by pounding them; but a better way is to brush them on both sides with a mixture of one tablespoonful of vinegar and two tablespoonfuls of oil or melted butter. The steak should then stand two or more hours before being cooked. It is the fiber of meat which makes it tough, and this fiber is soluble in acetic acid, which is found in vinegar. Broiling under the coals is better than over them when possible, as all smoke is then avoided.
Time: one inch thick, eight minutes; one and a half inches thick, ten minutes.
Trim a steak into good shape, taking off the end-piece to be used in some other form, as it is not eatable when broiled; take off superfluous fat; make the surface smooth by striking it with the broad blade of knife; heat the broiler very hot. Take a piece of the fat, trimmed off the meat, on a fork and grease the broiler well; lay on the steak with the outside or skin edge toward the handle, so the fat may run on the meat. Place it close to the hot coals and count ten slowly; turn it and do the same; this is to sear the outside and keep the juices in; then hold it farther from the coals to cook more slowly, and turn it as often as you count ten, counting about as fast as the clock ticks. If turned in this way very little fat will run into the fire, and it also cooks slowly, giving an even color all through. The flame from fat does not injure the meat, but the smoke must be avoided. Wrap a napkin around the hand holding the broiler to protect it from the heat. A steak ought not to be less than an inch, but should be one and a half to one and three quarters inches thick. Allow eight to ten minutes for cooking according to the thickness. One two inches thick will take fourteen to eighteen minutes. A steak should be rare but not raw, should have a uniform red color, and be full of juice.
When done it will be puffed between the wires of broiler, and will offer a little resistance to the touch. If experience does not enable one to judge in this way, remove the broiler to a dish on the table, and make a small clean cut on one side. Do not at any time pierce the meat with a fork, Sprinkle it with salt and pepper, and spread with maitre d'hotel butter. If the steak has to stand a few minutes before serving, which should be avoided if possible, dredge it at once with salt and pepper, but do not spread with the maitre d'hdtel butter until just before sending it to the table. The heat of the meat must melt the butter, and the parsley should look fresh and bright. Steak, as well as all broiled articles, should be garnished with slices of lemon and with water-cress.
Fried potato-balls, straws, puffed, or Saratoga potatoes may be served on the same dish.
The Chateaubriand is cut from the center of the fillet; but a good substitute is a tenderloin steak cut two inches thick, the bone removed, and the meat then turned so as to make a circle. Flatten it by striking with broad blade of knife or a cleaver. Broil slowly as directed above for eighteen minutes. Serve with maitre d'hdtel butter, mushroom, or olive sauce, placing the mushrooms or olives on top of the steak, the sauce under it. (See illustration facing page 152).
The Chateaubriand may also be roasted or braised.
A BONED TENDERLOIN STEAK MADE TO IMITATE A CHATEAUBRIAND GARNISHED WITH WATER-CRESS AND LEMON. (SEE PAGE 157).
Cut slices from the end of the fillet of beef about five eighths of an inch thick. Press and trim them into circles; dredge with salt and pepper; saute them in butter; spread Bearnaise sauce on a hot dish, and lay the mignon fillets on it, or lay the fillets on croutons of the same size as the fillet, and place on top of each one a small spoonful of peas, string-beans, or macedoine of vegetables.