Omaha Steaks Cooked the Whole30 Keto Way

Sometimes cooking cuts of quality meat can be daunting prompting what I call fear of the grill–trepidations to go beyond our typical cooking repertoire. Typical doesn’t even begin to describe the box of Omaha Steaks in thanks for watching their webinar about Omaha’s eclectic and happening food scene. File the latter under who would have known Omaha was such a culinary capital?

But after listening to the webinar about Omaha Steaks and discussions from three local chefs with outstanding credentials about how they cook steaks made me realize it was time to up my game.

And so I turned to my current favorite cookbook, The Primal Gourmet Cookbook: Whole30 Endorsed: It’s Not a Diet If It’s Delicious © 2020 by Ronny Joseph Lvovski sent to me by my friend Bridget Nocera of Houghton Mifflin.

It’s a great book because Lvovski has created each of his recipes to be compliant with an amazing amount of diets including criteria for Paleo-friendly, Whole30-compliant, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Sugar-Free. Lvovski goes into great detail about how he developed his recipes and why he made changes so they are user friendly for those following certain dietary regimes as well as being delicious for all of us. After reading his recipe for steak au poivre I decided what better honor could I give my steaks than transform them into a classic French bistro dish?

Omaha’s trendy dining scene. Photo courtesy of Visit Omaha.

According to Lvovski, steak au poivre typically consists of grilled filet mignon covered in a rich and creamy green peppercorn sauce made with plenty of heavy cream and butter. Instead he lightened things up a bit and kept it Whole30-compliant and Paleo-friendly by using ghee and coconut milk.

Omaha’s trendy dining scene. Photo courtesy of Visit Omaha.

“The secret to making things taste as close to the original as possible is to cook down the coconut milk with the shallots,” he says in the introduction to his recipe. “This will mellow the coconut flavor, which might otherwise overpower the dish.

Ronny Joseph Lvovski

“When it comes to cooking the steaks, I’m a big fan of the constant-flip technique, which was popularized by Heston Blumenthal years ago,” says Lvovski, who struggled with a lifetime of obesity, failed diets, and low self-esteem before discovering the Paleo diet. “I have to admit that I resisted it for a very, very long time, preferring instead the tried-and-true flip-once technique. That is, until one fateful day when I was faced with the task of cooking a fairly thick steak without the benefit of an oven and my preferred reverse-sear technique. The result was a perfectly cooked center and evenly caramelized crust. Since then, I’ve been a convert, but there’s a time and place for everything.”

There are a few things Lvovski recommended before considering which method to use. First and foremost, he says the constant flip works best on bigger steaks, those that are at least 1½ inches thick, because you need time to raise the internal temperature of the meat while simultaneously developing a crust. If your steak is too thin, you will overcook the center before the outside has had a chance to caramelize. The constant flip also works better for steaks cooked in a well-seasoned cast-iron pan on the stovetop rather than on the grill.

“Most grill grates are made from stainless steel, to which meat will stick until it develops a crust,” says Lvovski. “Therefore, you are better off only flipping steaks once if you’ recooking them on a grill. Well-seasoned cast-iron pans, on the other hand, are virtually nonstick and are more forgiving when it comes to flipping meat before it has developed a crust. As long as you keep the above considerations in mind, you should have great results using the constant-flip technique when cooking your steak. It safeguards against the fact that all stovetops and skillets perform differently, which can result in one side of the steak cooking more or less than the other.”

Steak Au Poivre

2 (10-to12-ounce) filets mignons (or substitute your favorite cut such as bavette, rib eye, skirt, porter house, flat iron, or New York strip), at least 1½ inches thick

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons avocado oil

1 shallot, finely chopped

¼ cup full-fat coconut mil

½ cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon green peppercorns in brine, drained

1 teaspoon loosely packed fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon ghee

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Whole30 Keto-Friendly, Paleo Grain-Free, Sugar-Free.

Time: 20 minutes, plus 1 hour of marinating

Pat steaks dry with paper towels and liberally season all sides with salt. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and set aside for 1 hour at room temperature. When ready to cook the steaks, heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and pour in 2 tablespoons of the avocado oil. Heat until oil is shimmering and carefully place the steaks in the skillet.

Cook, flipping the steaks every60 seconds, until the internal temperature registers 130° to 135°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 8 minutes. Remove the steaks from the pan and transfer them to a wire rack to rest for 10 minutes. While the steaks rest, wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel, then place it over medium heat. Pour in the remaining 1 tablespoon avocado oil, then add the shallot. Cook, stirring, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced by about half, about 2 minutes.

Add the stock, green peppercorns, thyme, and a pinch of black pep-per. Cook until the sauce has reduced again by half, about 4 minutes. Fold in the ghee and stir until it has melted. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper as desired. Slice the steaks against the grain and arrange them on a serving platter. Spoon the green peppercorn sauce over the top and serve.


Excerpted from “THE PRIMAL GOURMET COOKBOOK: Whole30 Endorsed: It’s Not a Diet If It’s Delicious’ © 2020 by Ronny Joseph Lvovski. Photography © 2020 by Donna Griffith. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Cooking the Perfect Omaha Steak

            What other major American city besides Omaha is defined by one specific food? No, we couldn’t think of one either, meaning when it happens, you know it’s got to be the best. And so it is with Omaha and steaks and the company who put them all together–Omaha Steaks. Long known for producing tender, tasty, grain-fed, hand-cut steaks, Omaha Steaks also is a fine purveyor of seafood, pork, lamb, chicken and such starters and sides as Filet Mignon Pastry Bites, Steakhouse Cauliflower Au Gratin and Mini-Lobster Grilled Cheese.

            As a serious carnivore, I was extremely lucky–and enthused–when asked to join a group of food and travel writers in a Zoom tour of the Omaha food scene where city’s famed steaks reign supreme. The webinar, organized by Visit Omaha’s Director of Communications, Tracie McPherson, was also sponsored by Omaha Steaks. Designed to introduce us to the city’s food scene, we met (virtually, of course) three of the city’s best chefs who shared tips and recipes on how to prepare what are considered the best of the best when it comes to quality meat.

            But first a little history.

            During the webinar, we learned that Omaha beef history dates back to 1862 when a Wyoming rancher asked a group of Omaha businessmen to consider creating a stockyard. Though it ended up being a boon for Omaha,  the rancher had a mercenary motive as well.  Western ranchers sending their cattle to the Stockyard Exchange Markets needed a place to feed and water their cattle as they made their way east. Omaha, located right on the banks of the Missouri River, was bountiful in corn and grass making it perfect for plumping up the cattle ensuring a higher price. Besides that, the city also was a growing transportation hub as the Union Pacific Railroad was expanding west making it perfect for a stockyard. So perfect that by 1890, Omaha Union Stockyards were ranked third in the United States for production. By 1910, the operations had 20,000 animals arriving daily. It was more than feeding and watering the cattle on their way to east coast markets, Omaha had become the market.

Photo courtesy of Visit Omaha.

And now the chefs and their steak preparation methods.

We met Chef Nick Strawhecker, owner/chef of Dante, who who trained in Europe and specializes in authentic, wood-fired Neapolitan pizza and rustic Italian cuisine. Cultivating relationships with growers and producers throughout the Midwest, his menu is seasonally driven. He also owns one of the few restaurants in the country that has pizza certified by the Italian Government.

Photo courtesy of Dante.

Dante– Chef Nick Strawhecker

Steak Cut: 20 oz. Bone-in Ribeye

Steak Preparation

  • Temper steak for about two hours, prefer room temperature
  • Season with fresh cracked black pepper and diamond crystal salt
  • Prepare in a hot cast iron pan with olive oil
  • Placed steak in wood-fired oven
  • Internal temperature of steak should read 115 degrees to 120 degrees (rare to medium rare)
  • Let steak rest then cut across grain

The steak sandwiches are  served with a variety of condiments like Fresh mushrooms, pickled vegetables, different sauces etc. Very versatile that can feed a crowd.

Chef Nick’s Tip: At home, the key is a good cast iron skillet that you preheat on a stove, oven or grill.

Jake Newton photo courtesy of V. Mertz.

Chef Jake Newton of V. Mertz learned to cook from his mother and after high school, attended Johnson & Wales University in Denver before moving to Europe where he worked and dined in some of the world’s best restaurants. Now he’s head chef for V. Mertz, part of Omaha’s culinary scene for more than 40 years, which is ocated in Omaha’s historic Old Market Entertainment District.

Steak: Boneless Ribeye

Courtesy of V. Mertz.

Steak Preparation

  • Start with a very dry steak by removing all of the moisture
  • Season with a liberal amount of salt and cracked black pepper
  • Sear steak on the hottest service possible to create that crust and caramelization on the steak.
  • Once steak has the nice exterior crust, let it rest for 5-7 minutes, the goal is to cool the external temperature to be less than what you desire the internal temperature.
  • Finish steak in a hot oven (450 degrees) for about 5 minutes (depending on your oven) until you reach desired internal temperature
  • Final resting period is around 15 minutes

Chef Jake’s Tips: 

  • Use canola oil in pan, it heats nice and hot
  • Move pan to another hot spot to keep the temperature of the pan high

Kitchen Table

Colin and Jessica Duggan of Kitchen Table.

According to our presententer, that Chef Colin Duggan and his wife Jessica, owner of Kitchen Table, make the kind of food that changes the way you eat. Before moving back to Omaha to open their restaurant, the couple spent time in San Francisco perfecting their culinary skills. Kitchen Table’s menu changes almost daily and is full of locally-raised seasonal food. Almost everything, including bread and jam, is made in house. The crew makes a Snack Mix of house bacon, candied nuts, and house popcorn that should come with a warning: highly addictive.

Steak Cut:  Teres Major (very versatile and large enough to have several servings)

Made three meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner

  • Trim silverskin of the steak but leave some of the fat
  • Prepare pan with butter and herbs (unintelligible due to connectivity)
  • Season steak with in-house seasonings
  • Use very hot cast iron pan to create sear and crust on steak
  • Breakfast
    • Cook eggs and vegetables on grill. Seasons with oil after cooking to absorb flavor
  • Lunch
    • Steak salad with housemade Greek Goddess dressing and Kitchen Table seasoning
  • Dinner
    • Jerk Spiced steak with marinated tomatoes
    • Same Cooking method for steak
    • Use reductions to accompany steak

Chef Colin’s Tip:  Season steak up to 12 hours prior to cooking to infuse maximum flavor

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