There’s nothing wrong with a simple steak seasoned with only salt and seared in a cast iron skillet, but sometimes you need a beefier steak to hit the spot.
One of the first things that executive chef Ryan Clark changed when he took over the kitchen at PY Steakhouse at the Casino Del Sol Resort was the meat program. The operation now hits all the right notes: local meat raised right by farmers he trusts and AZ prime-grade beef butchered and aged on site by his staff.
The extensive dry-aging program at PY includes both pork and beef. The beef from a local ranch in northern Arizona enters the Casino Del Sol butcher shop as a sub-primal cut after being processed on site at the farm. Clark and his team break down the primals by trimming off some of the excess fat and cutting them into steaks and chops on premise.
Before allowing the steaks to begin aging, the ribs are rubbed down with Hamilton Distillers’ Whiskey Del Bac Classic. Dry-aging the beef involves sealing a half rack of bone-in ribeyes in a dry-age bag (think large Ziploc with holes to allow for moisture escape). The beef then ages in a cooler or walk-in refrigerator for a period of 28 to 35 days. Over this time, the beef will lose 10 to 15% of its moisture and weight.
So why dry-age? The moisture loss results in tenderization and concentration of flavor of the beef. Enzymes already present in the beef work and break down connective tissues, resulting in a more tender cut of meat. Additionally, the enzymatic and bacterial oxidation that occurs during this time results in an intense altered flavor, beefy and nutty with a distinctive funk.
22 oz. Cowboy Ribeye at PY Steakhouse (Credit: Melissa Stihl)
After the aging process, the rack is sliced into steaks and trimmed. This process removes the oxidized fat cap and trim, which Clark uses for stocks, sauces, and tallow. The dry-age steak is served “cowboy-style” leaving the bone in, and “frenched” removing excess meat and bits from the rib bone.
Clark cooks the individual steaks sous vide with an immersion circulator, then broils them at about 800 degrees F for distinctive grill marks on the outside and a uniformly pink interior. The steak is effortlessly sliced and laced with yellowed fat and each bite from the spinalis dorsi (also known as the cap or deckle) to the bone is evenly cooked. In the final plating, the steak is rubbed with Whiskey Del Bac-infused butter and sprinkled with smoked Maldon sea salt flakes.
Four house-made sauces and a palm-sized serving of roasted bone marrow are served alongside the 22-ounce steak. The bone marrow can be eaten on its own, on top of the steak, or with the house-made vinegar salt potato chips and roasted tomatoes served on the side.
PY Steakhouse is located at the Casino Del Sol Resort at 5655 W. Valencia Rd. To make a reservation, call (520) 324-9350. For more information, visit casinodelsol.com.
Melissa hails from Brooklyn where she worked for a whole animal craft butchery company. She is now a professional Instagrammer in Tucson and believes everything is better in taco form. Follow her Instagram adventures on @mstihl.
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