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Why Does Las Vegas Love Red Meat?



A trip to Las Vegas isn't complete without a trip to the steakhouse.

Las Vegas and steakhouses go together like gambling and cocktails.

And no other city, not Los Angeles, San Francisco or New York can match the array of steak joints that Las Vegas offers.

Just wander along the Strip or visit Fremont Street and you’ll notice our steakhouses that come in all shapes and sizes – as well as various price points.

Steakhouses are even enjoying a renaissance among locals - who are flocking to neighborhood restaurants for some dry-aged USDA Prime or Japanese Kobe beef.

Sam Marvin, the chef at Echo & Rig at Tivoli Village, is one of those people bringing great steak to the neighborhoods.

He told KNPR's State of Nevada that he wanted to create a steakhouse off the Strip because he felt that was missing. 

He also wanted to include a butcher shop because so many people buy their meat from the grocery store without knowing how and where the animal was raised and slaughtered.

“The community of Las Vegas needed that," Marvin said, "Every community needs that. So it was a no-brainer for me to find a great community area where i could open a butcher shop and then a steak house."

He also offers several different kinds of cuts of steak from the flat-iron to bavette to the 100-year-old cut called the Spencer. The restaurant prides itself on discussing the options with its customers.

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"That's what builds relationships for us," Marvin said. "Service conversations is what we do in the restaurant."

Assistant executive chef at Green Valley Ranch Resort Steve Barr agrees that running a steakhouse at a neighborhood casino means a stronger connection to the customers compared with Strip restaurants that cater to more tourists.

“Sometimes those people know the plates and the food better than the new guys who work there,” Barr said.

He said he likes to challenge customers to try different cuts of meat. He said some meats like beef cheek and heart that were once just specialty meats are now front and center.

Scott Comings won the grueling "Hell's Kitchen" TV show and now works as a chef in Las Vegas. 

He says dining at a steakhouse is just part of the Las Vegas visitor experience.

“It’s almost iconic here in Vegas for people to come in and get their meat and potatoes and have it done incredibly well,” he said.

Comings said the best way to get the steakhouse taste at home is to start with a great cut of meat that features a lot of marbling, which is the fat found throughout the meat.

All the chefs advise finding a great butcher and talking to him or her about how the animal was raised, the cut and the grade of the meat.

From there, Comings advises home cooks use a cast iron skillet heated almost to the smoke point, use top grade beef seasoned with salt and pepper only, sear the beef on all sides and make sure not to overcook it.

If you like it cooked above very rare, heat your oven to 500 degrees and finish the steak in there. 

Marvin says if you want to cook a steak on the grill make sure the grill is very hot then turn the steak every minute so that it won't burn. 

He recommends the following turning times depending on how you want it cooked:

Six times = rare

Eight times = medium rare

Ten times = medium

Twelve times = medium well

Fourteen times = well done 

Once you've finished cooking the steak let it rest for five to 10 minutes to let the juices redistribute. If you don't, "it's horrific!" Marvin stated.

None of the chefs think marinades are way to go unless you've got an especially tough cut of meat like a brisket or a shank and you want to tenderize it.

They suggested sauces as a dressing for steak after it's cooked. For instance: a chimichurri sauce, which is a green sauce made with finely chopped herbs, garlic, lemon or vinegar and oil; a peppercorn sauce, which is a cream sauce made with whole peppercorns; bernaise sauce, which is a traditional cream sauce made with clarified butter, egg whites, white wine vinegar and herbs. 

However, Marvin warns to make sure you pair a non-fatty meat like a filet with a sauce that has more fat, like a bernaise sauce. The opposite is true of a more fatty steak like a skirt steak and pairing it with a chimichurri, which has less fat.

Sam Marvin, chef, Echo & Rig, Scott Comings, chef in Las Vegas, and Steve Barr, assistant executive chef, Green Valley Ranch Resort

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