A Budget Steak Meal From A Steak Master

Chef Michael Lomonaco was our first Chef on a Shoestring ten years ago, and he's back to celebrate his "anniversary" with a steak dinner - for the budget-minded.

In the mid-'80s, he was in the center of it all at Le Cirque, working under Master Chefs Alain Sailhac and Daniel Boulud. By 1989, Michael was playing a major role in the revitalization of the old New York establishment 21. He stayed on there until 1996, turning the rather staid, clubby restaurant into a modern American culinary destination that helped to redefine fine dining in this country.

In 1997 Lomonaco was appointed Executive Chef/Director of Windows on the World. He brought his cutting-edge American cuisine with him, replacing what had been a French-inspired menu with food that made diners and critics take note. Michael eagerly took on responsibility for all culinary operations at the Windows on the World complex, including the main dining room, the intimate Wild Blue and the boisterous Greatest Bar on Earth. In addition, he managed the kitchens for and oversaw the Windows' private dining menus and operations.

A little over a year ago he opened "Porter House New York" in the Time Warner Center. Focusing on prime aged steaks, seafood and updated versions of classic steakhouse side dishes, Lomonaco has re-invented the New York steakhouse.

In our Chef on a Shoestring kitchen, he's preparing a classic steakhouse meal for four, on our budget of $40. The menu includes Chopped Salad, Hanger Steak with Caramelized Shallots, Homemade French Fries, and topped off with a Pear & Cranberry Cobbler.

Food Facts

Hanger Steak: This steak is relatively inexpensive, but is still a nice enough cut of meat to appear on Michael's upscale menu. He likes hanger steak because it has a big meaty flavor. Hanger steak can be a bit chewy (a.k.a. tough) if you don't cook it properly OR slice it properly. Michael will show us both of these things. Also, it's essential to know that hanger steak has a nerve running through its middle that you can't eat. Butchers typically cut this out for you, but be aware so you can ask if needed.

Michael suggests cooking the steak on a grill pan or cast iron pan - about 4 minutes a side.

As the steak and shallots cook, you can toss together the chopped salad. He'll whisk together the dressing and you can try the salad. This is a classic steakhouse starter, and is a nice complement to the steak.


Porter House Chopped Salad

Home-Made Italian Dressing

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons minced fresh shallots
1 teaspoon chopped anchovies
2 teaspoons chopped parsley leaf
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil


1 head romaine lettuce, chopped into 1/8 inch wide strips
2 ripe Roma tomatoes, diced
½ cup thinly sliced radish slices
½ cup chopped raw carrots
1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup tightly packed parsley leaves
½ cup grated Pecorino cheese
2 whole scallions, washed and chopped

1. For dressing, whisk together all dry ingredients, with vinegar, slowly whisk oil into already mixed ingredients, chill for an hour before serving

2. For chopped salad, combine and toss together all ingredients in a large bowl and chill in your refrigerator.

3. Just before serving, toss dressing with salad and serve on small individual plates.

4. Sprinkle additional grated cheese over each salad and freshly ground black pepper.

Serves 4

Pan-Roasted Hanger Steak With Caramelized Shallots

1 trimmed hanger steak, about 1-1/2 pounds; center nerve removed
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup finely sliced shallots
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 peeled garlic clove
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Note: Hanger steaks, when trimmed of excess fat, will divide fairly evenly into two pieces each when the center nerve is removed, yielding four 5-ounce portions; for a larger portion, more hanger steak will be needed. Cook the steaks pan-roasted or on a grill for best results, and rare-to-medium rare is the most desired cooking temperature for maximum flavor and juiciness without toughening, something that happens in the medium-well cooking range.

Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan or cast-iron skillet and heat it over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Season the steaks with salt and pepper and add to the hot pan. Cook 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare, turning only when the first side has charred to a deep charred color. Turn and cook the second side. When the steaks have cooked sufficiently transfer to a platter, set aside and keep warm.

While the steaks are cooking, put 2 tablespoons butter into a medium sized sauce pot and heat for 30 seconds, add the shallots to the butter, and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, caramelizing to a golden color. Add the sugar and allow to caramelize further. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the vinegar, then carefully return the pan to the stovetop and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, reducing to a syrup thickness. Turn off heat and keep the shallot sauce warm.

Slice the hanger steaks into ½ inch thick slices, place the sliced steak on plates and spoon some sauce over each steak and serve with French fries.

Serves 4

For French Fries and Dessert, turn to page 2...