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When you order a T-Bone Steak at a steakhouse ...

... and you specify, for example, "medium".

Which part of the T-Bone do you expect to come out "medium"? The strip loin? The filet?

I ask because given the way the T-Bone steak is constituted it's almost impossible to cook (even in a salamander) the steak so that both sides -- strip loin and filet -- are the same doneness.

That said, when you want a T-Bone cooked "medium" which part should come out "medium"?

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  1. In a perfect world, both sides, but the New York Strip/Strip Loin side at the very least. Personally however, I would never take the chance of ordering a T-Bone Steak out in a restaurant for fear of receiving an inferior cut/piece. Someone has to get the cuts where the filet is almost negligable....and therefore, what's the point? In my opinion,if the Porterhouse is unavailable and a Bone-in Strip or Kansas City Strip is available, I would simply choose them. Why be teased with the thoughts of filet if it's probably going to be cooked other than desired....unless the restaurant was willing to show me the exact steak I was going to receive, that's my standard guideline. This would be in any restaurant where I was not a regular customer.

    1. Since a T-bone has very little if any flesh on the tenderloin side there is zero question that the sirloin side should arrive exactly as you ordered it. There might be some confusion on a Porterhouse because essentially you are getting both a filet and a NY strip on the bone. Typically the strip steak side is cooked to the temp you ordered. It's always a bonus if both sides are perfect but since the texture and density of the flesh is so different on the filet side there is no way for most restaurants to guarantee that.
      A T-Bone or a Porterhouse should never be cooked in a Salamander. A Salamander is designed to finish dishes off like browning cheese on a french onion soup. A salamander does not get hot enough in most cases to sear a steak because most are constructed with a very open design.

      11 Replies
      1. re: Fritter

        Many great steakhouses use salamanders, among them if I'm not mistaken Peter Luger which is probably cited more often than any other as the best one of all.

        1. re: johnb

          "Many great steakhouses use salamanders"

          That's true they just don't use them to grill steaks. Peter Luger's along with most other high end steak houses utilize infra-red swing broilers that hit very high temps.
          The first photo is a Salamander. It gets mounted on the wall over an oven or cook top. A salamander is not appropriate to grill a steak because they are not capable of searing or producing a char. The few that are capable are impractical for a steak house.

           
           
          1. re: Fritter

            Fritter.

            I apologize.....you posted this before I had a chance to view it........:::---)))

            1. re: fourunder

              No worries. I saw your post below and we are both saying the same thing.
              I did note that there are high heat Salamanders in my post above but that they are impractical for steakhouses. Some of those are very special use counter top models designed for smaller kitchens but not practical for restaurants with the volume we are discussing here. Plus they cost almost as much as a full upright swing broiler.

          2. re: johnb

            johnb,

            Salamander broilers are used in many restaurants and there are many levels of specifications depending on need, however, all are small units. Peter Luger actually uses what is known as an Upright Broiler, gas fired. I cannot say whether it is an infra-red unit or not....though my best guess would be it is not. Their broilers are probably very old and the technology probably was not available when originally purchased(basing this statement on past videos seen of PL's kitchen).

            Fritter....there are high heat salamanders available for commercial kitchens;;;;;----))))

            http://search.instawares.com/salamand...

            http://search.instawares.com/upright-...

            1. re: fourunder

              Isn't it mostly just a case of "loose" use of the term. I thought the term could be used for an open front broiler of just about any size--some folks anyway refer to just about any sort of broiler as a salamander, but if that is not so then I stand corrected.

              What/where is the dividing line between a salamander and an upright broiler, in size and design?

              1. re: johnb

                johnb,

                I would probably say everything in your first paragraph is correct. Salamanders are open front broilers and depending on what region of the country you are from, all broilers are salamanders. For commercial applications, salamanders are more commonly referred to as a cheese melter by less trained personnel in the kitchen.

                Both Salamanders and upright broilers utilize a top heat over-fired heat source flame cooking. The most glaring distinctions between a salamander and an upright broiler are:

                * salamanders are wall mounted or top mounted to a stove, small in size
                * upright broilers are always floor mounted units and may have a top oven
                * surface area for cooking is double of the salamander in the upright broiler
                * upright broilers generally produce more heat

                1. re: fourunder

                  "For commercial applications, salamanders are more commonly referred to as a cheese melter by less trained personnel in the kitchen"

                  While I agree with many of your other points here I just can not agree with that statement. Some over head salamanders are actually sold as Cheese melters. Calling an over head salamander a cheese melter does not reflect the experience of staff in any way. Many salamanders are capable of little more than melting cheese or other such light duties.
                  An "upright" broiler is never referred to as a Salamander in a professional kitchen.
                  An "upright" broiler is more commonly referred to as a swing broiler or a "Deck" broiler as a typical commercial unit has two decks. A double decker has roughly 8x the cooking surface area of a standard over head salamander.

                  http://www.acitydiscount.com/American...

                  1. re: Fritter

                    Some over head salamanders are actually sold as Cheese melters. Calling an over head salamander a cheese melter does not reflect the experience of staff in any way. Many salamanders are capable of little more than melting cheese or other such light duties.
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                    Fritter,

                    Doesn't the last part of your comment actually agree with me? :::---)))

                    As for the experience of the staff, back in the early 80's, I was a corporate trainer for two national chains opening new locations.......I can tell you many of the new hires could not even pronounce salamander....let alone know what one was..... :::---))))

                    1. re: fourunder

                      Indeed we agree across the board with the very, very slight niggle that I think many with experience still call them cheese melters (or worse). ;)
                      I hear you on the new hires. It's amazing just how little even some of the culinary grads I have had work for me know.

                2. re: johnb

                  "What/where is the dividing line between a salamander and an upright broiler, in size and design?"

                  John terms like "Salamander" are really a sort of kitchen slang. However the Salamander is defined as such in a professional kitchen because it's far smaller in depth than a deck broiler. A typical Salamander has the depth of a single dinner plate while a standard deck broiler is roughly the depth of 4-6 dinner plates. A Salamander in most cases also has limited height adjustments for the grill or "deck". A deck broiler allows the grill to be brought up very close to the flame.
                  If we get an order for a Pittsburgh rare steak this is the what allows my broiler man the ability to accomplish that as well as char the steaks. Because of the depth of a deck broiler the grill gets far hotter than a Salamander even if both are essentially the same BTU. A Salamander is so small that much of the heat escapes the unit.
                  Hope that helps.

          3. Interesting question. I have never ordered a T-Bone at a steakhouse, and it's been a long time since I have eaten a T-bone at home. But I ordered a porterhouse last weekend and wished that the strip and filet was cooked to different levels of doneness. I prefer my filet to be rare and the strip to be medium rare (rare strip is kind of difficult to eat as it's a bit too chewy for my taste). I ordered rare, and both came out rare. We just pretty much ate the filet part and took the strip home where I heated it up the next day to medium rare.

            17 Replies
            1. re: Miss Needle

              Miss Needle,

              From my perspective, as someone who has worked in the restaurant business for some time, I see no reason why a SteakHouse would not actually cook a Porterhouse for you to two different temperatures....one for the Filet, and one for the Strip Loin......especially if the restaurant is concerned with your satisfaction. In most Steakhouses the Porterhouse is generally served for two persons and it is sliced as part of the presentation. Pulling the steak off the fire to remove the Filet portion is quite easy and takes literally seconds to do. The additional few minutes to cook the Strip Loin is hardly a impediment to the flow of the steak cooking process or the kitchen line.

              Out of curiosity, I may have to request this next time I venture to a Steakhouse to see what the response will be from the kitchen and or house.....and see if the request is honored.

              1. re: fourunder

                "Out of curiosity, I may have to request this next time I venture to a Steakhouse to see what the response will be from the kitchen and or house.....and see if the request is honored."

                Oh, please do! I've never seen this done before and would be interested if this is considered a reasonable request by restaurants. But I'm wondering if the flavor would be altered when the meat is taken off the bone to cook.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  But I'm wondering if the flavor would be altered when the meat is taken off the bone to cook.
                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                  Actually Miss N, my intention is to have the whole porterhouse cooked together. When the filet portion is heated to rare temperature, I will request that it be removed off the bone and left to rest on a plate, while the strip loin is returned to the fire allowing it to continue cooking to medium-rare temperature, then the strip loin can be removed from the bone and both steaks can be sliced for presentation..........so there should be no need to worry about the filet being cooked off the bone and losing any flavor.

                  1. re: fourunder

                    Ah! I see. That totally makes sense.

                    1. re: fourunder

                      "my intention is to have the whole porterhouse cooked together. When the filet portion is heated to rare temperature, I will request that it be removed off the bone"

                      I'm amazed that I have never ever had such a request . It's not a bad idea but the look on your servers face might be priceless.
                      The only issue I can see is that the filet would not be seared where it was against the bone and it would weep if cut off the bone. A rare filet removed like this from a normal 24-28 ounce Porterhouse would probably appear to be a different temp by the time it arrived at the table.
                      I think it might be a bit more reasonable to request the filet be removed and cooked separatly.

                    2. re: Miss Needle

                      You can see where this could be an issue for the diner and the restaurant.

                      DINER: I'd like my T-bone cooked medium, please.

                      SERVER: Yes, of course.

                      [T-Bone strip is cooked medium, but filet is medium well]

                      DINER: [cuts into filet first] This steak is cooked medium-well, I wanted medium!

                      SERVER: My apologies, I will have the kitchen prepare you another.

                      [T-bone filet is cooked medium, but strip is now medium rare]

                      DINER: [cuts into strip side first]. This is medium-rare, I wanted medium.

                      And on and on it goes ...

                    3. re: fourunder

                      " In most Steakhouses the Porterhouse is generally served for two persons and it is sliced as part of the presentation"

                      There are not that many places that serve a Porterhouse so thick that they can cook each side to order and serve it pre-sliced as part of the presentation. It takes a very high end infra-red broiler to do it right and the places that do are mostly cutting their own steaks. At those places any reasonable request should be carte blanche.
                      Peter Lugers and Berns are two I know of.

                      1. re: Fritter

                        There are not that many places that serve a Porterhouse so thick that they can cook each side to order and serve it pre-sliced as part of the presentation. It takes a very high end infra-red broiler to do it right and the places that do are mostly cutting their own steaks
                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                        While I agree with almost everything you have contributed in your comments, however, I would have to disagree with you on this one. While not knowing where you reside and therefore cannot comment on.....In all my travels across the country, it always includes a visit to a top steakhouse, either to a national chain or a local favorite. Every one of the places offered a steak for two, thick porterhouse cut. Some even offerer Double Rib-Eyes and/or Strip Loins too. Here in NJ/NY, every steakhouse has steak for two (or more) available.

                        Using Peter Luger Steakhouse for example, their steak for two isn't even actually very thick at all. I would say it is 1.5 inches or less in thickness for their steak for two, but without knowing how anyone cooks their steaks.....many top places mark the steaks and finish in the oven....especially thick steaks. All the top places have Upright Broilers, infra-red or not with high heat capabilities, that is without dispute. It is arguable whether it is the only way to cook a proper steak.

                        As a side note, the much maligned Sysco has a beef company that will hold short loins for you and cut them any thickness you want for your restaurant. I know many New York restaurants and steakhouses that use this service and company.....some which may surprise you.

                        1. re: fourunder

                          At the moment I can not think of a national steak house chain that has a Porterhouse for two and cuts the steak as part of their SOP presentation. The key point being that they pre-slice the steak. Clearly this makes cooking a Porterhouse two different temperatures far easier.
                          I agree many steak houses have thick Rib Eyes and Strip Steaks but any one can cut those to order (as long as their boneless) or as you say order them pre-cut from a distributor. A Porterhouse is a different beast. They need to be cut on a band saw. Often they are dry aged. So if you are doing custom size Porterhouses you need a very well equipped kitchen and skilled staff like Berns. Other wise you will only have the standard steak size you ordered pre-cut.
                          I agree many steak houses utilize the ovens. Some even utilize them as a primary cooking method. Ruth's Chris is a prime example.
                          You may get by with out an infra-red or high heat broiler however you will not get a char or be capable of Pittsburgh rare etc. with out one.

                          1. re: fourunder

                            F

                            FYI - the data points above do not include national steakhouse chains.

                        2. re: fourunder

                          F

                          As some more data, jfood has ordered and eaten many PH served solo in steakhouses. He would probably place the percentage of 2-person only places at 25-30%.

                          Just a data point from jfood's experience.

                          1. re: jfood

                            Are you sure you're getting a true Porterhouse? ;-)

                            j. I would not disagree with your observation, but my intent was to speak of the upper echelon type places, which do offer single steak and larger steak cuts of PH, so no arguement, but, Miss N did say *we*....as well as *I*.

                            As a note, if dining in a group of 2 or more, it is suggested you never order a steak larger than the one for two. So if there are four of you.....two steaks for two. It's believed by many you will get a better value of steak and cooked more to your liking....especially if all the diners at the table cannot agree on temperature.

                            1. re: fourunder

                              :-)) Hmmm, yup jfood thinks he can tell a PH. And jfood also speaks of the upper echelon. In fact he can say he has never eaten a steak in a chain (unless one considers Capital Grille and Mortons in that category). So he thinks you and he probably have a significant overlap at the higher places.

                              You would probably like this story...

                              Jfood ate at Abe & Louie's (some think the best in Boston) a few years ago and ordered a PH. Came out horribly prepared. MOD arrived and after a discussion told jfood..."the only steak the chef knows how to cook MR all the way through is a boneless sirloin." OMG. And they place Havarti as the cheese on top of the onion soup as well. Go figure.

                              1. re: fourunder

                                This thread has made me want to return to Don Shula's and join the 48 ounce club!

                                1. re: Fritter

                                  jfood once tried the 32 oz at mortons and failed.

                        3. This is exactly why I prefer to order a rib-eye in a restaurant. With my home grill, I can align the strip and loin over different heat zones, only an inch apart, and get a perfect result. I doubt that many restaurant grills have that flexibility. Fourunder's idea of cutting away the loin when it is r-mr and finishing the strip is interesting, but not for me. I like to leave about 1/4 inch of meat on all sides of the bone so I can gnaw like a mad dog at the end. (Which is best done at home, also, the way I do it would not fly at the Four Seasons)

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: Veggo

                            I like to leave about 1/4 inch of meat on all sides of the bone so I can gnaw like a mad dog at the end. (Which is best done at home, also, the way I do it would not fly at the Four Seasons)
                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                            Veggo,

                            Now you see, I can admit to doing that with my Cowboy Rib-Eye bone........

                            1. re: fourunder

                              You are a tennis player with a golfer's moniker. Confusing.

                              1. re: Veggo

                                Veggo,

                                For the record.....

                                1. when I was a young and fit, I was a regionally ranked junior tennis player and I worked for Nick Bollettieri during the summers. I also played college tennis.

                                2. I no longer play tennis and am now a golfer.

                                3. My best score for a round of golf is actually 65...seven under par

                                4. the inspiration for my moniker is from a description of a childhood friend, who I happened to visit on a golf vacation a dozen years ago. He resides in Lake Mary, Florida and he put us up one night during our stay. He is not a golfer, but on this trip he planned to join us one day to catch up on life and times back here in New Jersey. Upon waking up in the morning on this day, at breakfast he appeared ready to go and dressed to the nines in very expensive golf attire. We all remarked how sharp and spiffy he looked.....just like a professional golfer. His reply was .......

                                "I may not be able to play golf........but I dress like I'm "Fourunder"!!!!!

                                In the words of the late, great Paul Harvey........now you know the rest of the story.

                                  1. re: Veggo

                                    I'm just glad you got to read it before you know what.........

                                    1. re: fourunder

                                      I am trying assiduously to behave because I got another woodshed talk a couple days ago...

                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        looks like you scooted past the woodshed, veggo.

                                  2. re: fourunder

                                    And all this time I thought maybe you were just driving a small car!
                                    I've spent my share of time in CC kitchens.

                            2. Most chop houses use grills that are extremely hot, like 900-1500 degress+/-, and that can cook the steak evenly. I order Porter House, not a Tbone that has a tiny fillet portion, MR.