This recipe features an updated version of the original Delmonico steak, a classic that started it all. The ribeye is grilled and then smothered in a delicious mushroom, tomato, and rosemary sauce. This steak dish remains one of my personal favorites, and I think it will become one of yours too.
In 1827 the Delmonico brothers opened the first modern restaurant in the United States. It was the first place hungry customers could order what they wanted instead of what the chef had prepared that day. What started as a small café, quickly grew into a full-service restaurant and the hippest place to eat in New York. Abraham Lincoln dined there often and grew particularly fond of the Delmonico Potatoes, a delectably creamy chopped or hash brown potato casserole.
The Delmonico “Steak Cut” Debate:
Somewhere around 1850, steak appeared on the menu. There still remains some controversy over which beef sections the chef used. However, over the years, a total of nine different steaks cuts were used to for the Delmonico steak. Some say that steers were harvested and butchered on site, which allowed the chef to pick and choose which cuts looked best for that day. Today, people insist that it’s the top sirloin, but if you go to a well-educated butcher and order a Delmonico Steak, you will likely leave with a ribeye steak. Most steak connoisseurs argue that the ribeye is the perfect blend of flavor and tenderness, and therefore one, if not the best, steak to eat. Regardless of which cut is attributed to the Delmonico steak, it would have been a large and flavorful piece of beef, even by nineteenth century standards.
For many years, the Delmonico steak appeared as item 86 on the menu. Folklore suggests that the chef at Delmonico’s invented the term “86’d” to let the staff know that they had run out of steaks for the day.
There were several Delmonico’s Restaurants, and the last of them closed down in 1923.
The primary reason for Delmonico’s downfall directly resulted from prohibition. People unwilling to sit through a long formal dinner without alcohol, stopped going to the restaurant. As a result, the final Delmonico’s Restaurant closed its doors, unable to convince people that bottled mineral water was good enough to drink with such a fine steak.
Any restaurant (or hotel) found with that name today are not authentic, just imitations of the original. That doesn’t mean that they don’t serve a great steak!
The original Delmonico steak recipe contained simple ingredients and yielded delicious results. The steak was lightly seasoned with salt, basted with melted butter, and grilled over a live fire. This dish paired well with a thin, clear gravy and a good helping of potatoes. To this day, it remains the perfect restaurant steak.
Key ingredients in this recipe:
Steaks: This recipe calls for 4 ribeye steaks, about 6-7 ounces each. With beef prices on the rise, you can opt for a cheaper cut like chuck or chuck eye steaks.
Broth: Store bought broth is the easiest option. However, I’ve found that homemade beef bone broth works well with this dish.
Mushrooms: This recipe calls for the cremini variety, but you can use a white button or chopped portabella as well. The recipe also calls for the mushrooms to be thread onto rosemary sprigs, but you can use wooden or metal skewers for the job. The rosemary adds flavor but also serves as a lovely presentation piece for the final plating of the dish. If you choose to use wooden skewers, soak them in tepid water for 30 minutes before using.
Now, let’s make this recipe!
- 4 rib-eye steaks 12-14 ounces
- 16 cremini mushrooms cleaned
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 rosemary sprigs about 4 inches long (garnish)
- 4 skewers
- olive oil
- For sauce:
- 1 cup beef stock
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 1/4 cup diced carrots
- 1/4 cup diced celery
- 4 sun-dried tomatoes chopped
- 3 tablespoons chopped ginger
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat olive oil in a skillet. Sauté ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, shallots, carrots, and celery over medium heat. Caramelize or cook until slightly browned. Slowly pour in balsamic vinegar while stirring. Reduce the mixture by half, then add the beef broth. Bring the sauce back to a quick boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and let the sauce simmer until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Vegetables should be tender.
- Remove sauce from heat, and cool for 10 minutes. Place sauce into a blender and puree mixture. Pour the sauce back into the pot and cover—warm sauce right before serving.
- Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Season steaks with salt and black pepper, and cook to desired doneness. I recommend medium-rare to medium (an internal temperature of 135-145 degrees F).
- Clean the mushrooms with a damp cloth to remove debris from the surface. Thread four mushrooms onto each skewer lengthwise, from stem through the top. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Place mushrooms onto the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes, turn and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until mushrooms are nice and tender.
- Remove steaks from the grill and let them rest. Meanwhile, remove mushrooms from skewers and slice them into smaller pieces.
- Top each steak with a little warmed sauce, the sliced mushrooms, and garnish with a rosemary sprig.