The porterhouse of veal for two at Rebelle was inspired by late night dinners that chef Daniel Eddy used to enjoy during his tenure in Paris. The restaurant was Le Grand 8, one of the few dining rooms open on Sundays, and the simple meat and potatoes dishes it served were exactly the sort of comfort Eddy needed on his one day off a week. He especially enjoyed the restaurant's veal chop, which was served with potatoes and salad. This dish informed his decision to add a veal steak to the menu at Rebelle. “I don’t see veal highlighted in this fashion, as a steak, in NYC,” says the chef. And while the cut that inspired him was for one diner, he was motivated by economics and menu design — there is already a beef hanger steak at Rebelle — to offer a larger porterhouse for two.
The veal is sourced from Pennsylvania by butcher Marc Sarrazin of Debragga and has a naturally rosy color — this is not the pale, commodity veal that is a cast off from the dairy industry. Eddy uses only center cut loin chops to insure that the tenderloin is the right size and shape — plump and round rather than triangular, as found on a T-bone. Fabricated into 23 ounce portions, the chef aggressively seasons the chop with kosher salt before pan searing it. Once the veal develops a glorious bronze hue it is basted, brought to temperature in the oven, rested for as long as it was cooked, and then basted again. Eddy emphasizes that the resting is particularly important to allow the meat to fully relax and make sure that the juices redistribute throughout the muscle. Unrested meat will result in the juices gushing out as it's cut. This is especially important as the porterhouse at Rebelle is sliced for the guest, evoking the famed porterhouse at Peter Luger. The chop is basted with the classic combination of thyme, butter, and garlic, with orange and lemon peels added to cut through the richness and brighten the palate. The peels are extracted as soon as they curl, lest they add bitterness to the dish.
The potatoes are also an important part of the dish, adding a starchy comfort to complement the heartiness of the meat. They are first roasted in pan drippings and then pan cooked in veal jus creating a caramelized, sticky exterior that also has plenty of crunch and snap due to the way the chef agitates them in the pan. The veal jus that is ladled over the finished steak and also incorporated into the potatoes has what Eddy describes as a "through-line" of flavor — it provides an organizing principle for the meal.
It is made from veal bones, shallots, peppercorn, thyme, and garlic. The mixture is deglazed with white wine, reduced, and strained, resulting in a rich, velvety sauce that is profoundly meaty but also has a delicate sweetness. It is the perfect complement to the veal itself. The feast costs $90 for two and is offered nightly as a verbal special. It can also be reserved ahead of time by calling the restaurant.
As for the future, Eddy sees this dish as a foundation for a larger exploration of veal. The chef says that early next week, he is "planning on adding the sweetbreads, veal's head, and bone marrow" as options. The price is yet to be finalized, but it's expected to be in the $125 to $140 range.