The Armed Forces Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to supporting members of the military community with financial support, career counseling, housing assistance and recreational therapy programs. To raise funds, they pulled together Adam Richman, from Travel Channel’s ever-popular Man vs Food, and Pat LaFrieda, 4th generation butcher and owner of New York’s famous Pat LaFrieda Wholesale Meat Purveyors. Billing it as “Around the Cow in 80 Ways” and hosting it at downtown DC’s Occidental, they decided to demonstrate how to butcher and prepare three different cuts of steak: skirt, brisket, and New York strip.
First up was the skirt steak. As he carved the meat, LaFrieda explained that there was huge difference between the inside and outside skirt cut, the inside skirt holding much more flavor and expense. Also known as a Romani steak, the skirt is a thinner meat, known for its flavor more than its tenderness. Meanwhile, Richman prepared the accompanying Chimichurri sauce, a mix of parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, and crushed red pepper. Elaborating that this sauce worked well with the steak even served cold, the resulting dish was nicely done and showed fantastic garlic & citrus flavors.
The second cut was something more personal for Richman, preparing what he called his mother’s own recipe for brisket. Explaining that the cut of meat is as much a part of a Jewish boy’s upbringing as chicken soup, brisket is the breast of the animal, two muscles lying on top of the other. LaFrieda elaborates that there is a huge difference in marbling between those two sides, the fat that stays with beef the reason for making the meat so great. The sauce is a combination of white onions, garlic, grape jelly, and heinz chili sauce, cooked down. The cut we received was tougher than we expected, but the flavors were spot on. The light and subtle sweet sauce worked great with the beef.
The final steak was a New York strip, taken from the bottom back of the cow. As LaFrieda made cuts into beef, he explained that the boned meat often goes through a drying process to draw out the water and magnify the beefy flavor. As it chars on both sides, Richman prepares the pizzaiola sauce, a combination of tomato, oil, white onions, basil, garlic. As strip then cooked on top of the sauce, a small amount of shredded Romano and Mozzarella was added on top (the mozzarella more for heritage sake than anything else). What we were served was wonderfully cooked, the crust on the steak having both a nice crunch and savory flavor, matched only by the rich quality of the steak. We have to admit that there was a large difference between what the restaurant’s kitchen served to us and the dish prepared on stage, the latter having much more of a punch and harmony of flavoring. It goes to show that Richman is not just some guy who does food challenges, but a talented chef in his own right. The beautiful butchering from LaFrieda also allowed for us to get the best cut of meat possible, enjoying plenty of composed fat and an expertly charred crust.
Once the demonstration ended and the final course of sorbet & berries arrived, Richman took a more personal note to explain that some of his relatives are in the armed forces and was thankful to everyone who served. LaFrieda added that it was an honor to serve those who had sacrificed so much for their country and was grateful for events like those by the Armed Forces Foundation. The fundraiser was a spectacular event and we give tremendous kudos to the AFF for pulling together such two great speakers.