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What is a Delmonico Steak? This question is the source of lots of confusion and debate. There are at least nine cuts of beef which are identified as Delmonico, and they are variously "cut from the chuck", "cut from the rib", or "cut from the sirloin". To add to the confusion, some common Delmonico Steaks are boneless while others are bone-in.
The problem is that the original Delmonico Steak was created about 160 years ago. Since then, nomenclature for beef primals and cuts have changed as the beef industry has become more standardized. Prior to 1973 there were several thousand names for cuts of beef, but the National Live Stock and Meat Board recommended about 300 standard names be used for cuts of meat. But, Delmonico still remains an unstandardized cut of beef as far as the Meat Buyer's Guide classifications go. Today, a Delmonico Steak is somewhat determined by the region you are in, but more so by the butcher you speak with.
The original Delmonico Steak was served at Delmonico's Restaurant in New York city in the mid 1800s. Delmonico's was the first true restaurant in the US, serving ala carte entrees where customers could choose what they wanted instead of receiving whatever was prepared that day. The original Delmonico Restaurants closed in 1923. The current Delmonico Restaurants in New York uses a Boneless Rib-eye Steak cut from any part of the rib-eye for their Delmonico Steaks. Emeril Lagasse also has opened several Delmonico Restaurants in different cities, but at his establishments a Delmonico Steak is a Bone-in Rib-eye Steak.
According to the Ask The Meat Man:
There are more than sixty different beef cuts in the meat case today. Add in the fact that many cuts have several different names and the meat case can be very confusing. And a steak may be labeled a certain name in one area of the U.S., and the same labeled name in another area might be a completely different cut of steak.
In my area, Southeast Missouri, a Delmonico steak is a Boneless Top Sirloin beef steak. In other parts of the country, a Delmonico is a Bone-In Top Loin Steak (cut from the short loin), or a Rib-Eye Steak (cut from the rib).
I know this wasn't a quick easy answer, but there really isn't one. But I hope this sets you out on the right path.
Bottom line, ask your meat purveyor what is commonly sold as a Delmonico Steak in your region.
Common Definitions Used For Delmonico Steak
Below are nine of the most common cuts used for steaks which are called Delmonico:
Last Boneless Chuck-eye Steak Cut From IMPS/NAMP 116D
By this definition a Delmonico steak is the first 3" steak cut from the chuck eye, where it joins the rib-eye (i.e. the first steak cut from the extension anterior of the rib-eye). Thus, there are only two Delmonico Steaks per beef carcass -- one per side.
Chuck-eye Steaks also have the following market names: Mock Tender Steak, Chuck Filet Steak, Beauty Steak, Chuck Tender Steak, and Fish Steak.
First Boneless Rib-eye Steak Cut From IMPS/NAMP 112/112A
This is a more stringent definition of the below cut. By this definition the Delmonico steak is the first cut (nearest the chuck or front end) of the boneless rib-eye, which tends to have better marbling and therefore better flavor than the cuts after it.
Any Bone-in Rib Steak IMPS/NAMP 1103
Simply stated, any bone-in steak which is cut from the rib primal. Many butchers say that a "Rib Steak" and a "Rib-eye Steak" are the same thing except that the "Rib-eye Steak" is bone-in while the "Rib Steak" is bone-out. Others state that there is a greater difference between these two cuts, and that a "rib-eye" steak is among the steaks cut from the chuck end (anterior) where the eye of the rib primal is evident, whereas a "rib steak" is cut from the posterior end of the rib roast and has a texture closer to that of a sirloin.
Any Bone-in Rib-eye Steak IMPS/NAMP 1103
Emeril Lagasse has started several Delmonico Restaurants in various cities and he refers to the Delmonico Steak as a bone-in rib-eye steak. Check-out his recipe for Delmonico's Dry Aged Rib-Eyes.
Any Boneless Rib-eye Steak IMPS/NAMP 1112/1112A
|"Delmonico" is a fancy name for ribeye. You'll find the word Delmonico more commonly in the Northeast (the original Delmonico's Restaurant was in NYC); ribeye is the label of choice in the Southeast.|
And Barbecuen says that:
|a Delmonico steak is the same as the Rib Steak less the bone.|
First Bone-in Top Loin Steak From IMPS/NAMP 175
This cut is also referred to as a Club Steak. It is the first steak cut from the bone-in top loin next to the rib section. It is triangular in shape and is smaller than a T-bone.
Any Bone-in Top Loin Steak From IMPS/NAMP 175
This version is essentially a bone-in New York Strip. Other similar cuts include: Strip Steak, Sirloin Strip, Chip Club Steak, Country Club Steak, Shell Steak, Club Steak
Any Boneless Top Loin Steak From IMPS/NAMP 180
Same as above except boneless. Other similar cuts include: Strip Steak, Kansas City Steak, Ambassador Steak, Boneless Club Steak.
A Boneless, Dry-aged Prime Top Sirloin Steak From IMPS/NAMP 184A
Of all the cuts listed, this one is most likely the true original Delmonico Steak served at the original Delmonico's in the mid 1800s. According to recipes by the two original chef de cuisines, Alessandro Filippini and Charles Ranhofer, it is apparent that they used a boneless top sirloin. Additionally, it had the reputation of being the very best steak available so one can assume that it was a dry-aged steak, especially during that time in history.
Alessandro Filippini wrote The Table and The International Cook Book, both of which were geared towards the home cook. Ranhofer wrote The Epicurean, which was geared towards the professional chef. You can find their original recipes for the Delmonico Steak in their books.
For a thorough exploration of the original Delmonico Steak see an article by Joe O'Connell on Steak Perfection's website.
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Delmonico Steak From The Chuck IMPS/NAMP 116D
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