David Hutton knows his steak. He’s at the helm of the kitchen at Forbes Travel Guide Recommend Mooo, which is located inside of the Four-Star XV Beacon hotel. Considered to be one of the top steak restaurants in Boston, we caught up with the busy chef to get his tips for cooking the perfect steak, his picks for the (other) best restaurants in Boston and a few trade secrets from the kitchen.
Mooo is known for its steaks. What advice can you give steak lovers about preparing it, cooking it and pairing it with other foods and wines?
Get to know your local butcher; they can get anything you want and it’s fun to get some cuts you don’t ordinarily see. Invest in a cast-iron pan — great for searing thick steaks on the stovetop to finish in the oven. Also, try experimenting with different kinds of wood chips sprinkled on top of your charcoal grill; they can add a whole other layer of flavor to your steaks.
Have your steaks out at room temperature before you start to cook them; they will be less stressed and cook very evenly. Always rest steaks for a good five minutes before serving; a well-rested steak can be flashed or reheated and it will stay at your desired temperature.
As far as pairing side dishes to your steaks, if you stay seasonal, you can’t miss. For instance, serve corn and tomatoes in the summer, asparagus and peas in the spring, roasted squash in the fall, etc. Whatever is growing local will work just fine. When pairing wine with steaks, I find that the more marbled steaks work well with the bolder or bigger wines. For instance, a rib eye steak would go great with a California syrah and a filet could work well with a Châteauneuf-du-Pape. A pinot noir or any super Tuscan would work just fine with any cut of steak.
What’s your favorite thing on the menu at Mooo and why?
That is a tough question. Perhaps it’s the spinach salad with crispy goat’s milk cheese we just put on, or the scallops with chanterelle broth and creamy parsnips, or the chestnut-crusted whole black bass with Maine lobster broth we had on [recently], but probably the house dry-aged prime rib eye we do. My favorite seasonal item at Mooo is probably the corn succotash we do in the summer. I love all the seasonal things we do and try to be creative and come up with new seasonal sides and dishes, but the succotash is a dish that our guests seem to anticipate every summer. As the summer moves along, the corn seems to get better and better.
Tell us a little more about what’s coming up on Mooo’s spring menu.
We’re always tweaking and working on our menus. As spring starts, I look forward to seeing some fiddleheads sprinkled in our market vegetables. We will have a version of our gold and candy striped beet and Vermont goat cheese pairing and soft shell crabs with ramps and bacon. We will also be introducing some new desserts — a cherry treat, maybe a clafouti (a baked French fruit confection), and we are working on a creamsicle panna cotta.
How have you seen Boston’s dining scene change over the years since you’ve been at Mooo?
I see a lot more restaurants opening up everywhere — new neighborhoods seem to be thriving. There used to be a handful of places to go out fancy or funky and, over the years, there have been many fine restaurants opening up in just about every neighborhood. Boston is all about the neighborhoods, and you can walk the city and see some great food culture.
Do you think Boston is a “foodie” city?
If a foodie is someone who knows about wines and fine foods, and searches to be blown away by a dining experience, then there are plenty of options in Boston. I think the amount of quality restaurants that seem to be doing well shows that. Plus, Daniel Boulud is coming to town!
What new dining and restaurant trends do you see on the horizon for Boston?
I think the new restaurant Ostra is onto something with world-class seafood from all over the world. It’s great to see a place like that on the scene. Boston won’t be just known for scrod and chowder in the future.
What are some must-have items any novice chef should have in the kitchen?
Very easy: a quality set of knives, a good set of heavy-bottom pots and pans, a good cutting board, and ice cube trays with chicken stock in the freezer.
What’s your trade-secret spice for cooking steak?
Expensive sea salt.
Photo Courtesy of XV Beacon