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Learn your cuts from the Butcher Block’s Ron Lutz

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Ron Lutz, who opened Butcher Block in 2006, has decades of experience in meat.
Photo: Bill Hughes

The Details

The Butcher Block
7625 S. Rainbow Blvd., 558-6328.
Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.

Good steak starts in a pasture and ends on a plate, but the cow and the cook aren’t the only ones involved in its deliciousness. The middleman, the butcher, transforms the meat. He honors the sweet spots and lowly scraps, whether at a grocery store, a major Strip property or a specialty shop. At 45, Ron Lutz has done all three.

He opened his Butcher Block on South Rainbow in 2006, and it’s a favorite haunt of culinary folks from star chef Chris Cosentino to servers at Craftsteak. The shop was a dream Lutz realized after more than a decade as Treasure Island’s head butcher. He entered the trade at 18, and his dad (who just retired) was also a butcher. “Every steak I cut, I cut a steak that I want,” Lutz says. “I love to give everybody the best there is.”

Among his dry-aged specimens, venison sausages, smoked pork hocks and tubs of duck fat, the confessed “ribeye guy” talked beef.

THE USUAL SUSPECTS

Ribeye: “It has the outside muscle, which is a ribeye cap. That’s what makes a ribeye so awesome. That piece on the outside is one of the best cuts on the whole animal … a lot more juice, a lot more fat, a lot more flavor.”

Filet Mignon: “Not the most flavorful steak, but they are the most tender. … Sauce is what makes it. A nice demi on top of Beef Wellington.”

New York: “It’s a little more firm of a steak, little less fatty, but also very tasty. … I like a good New York as long as you don’t overcook it, ’cause they tend to be tough—even a prime grade.”

Porterhouse: “A lot of people share it—husband-and-wife type thing. ‘You get the filet; I get the New York,’ you know? It’s a big steak, even for somebody that eats a lot.”

THE SHOW STOPPERS

Tomahawk: “It’s the same as a ribeye; the only thing is it’s got the long bone, and the wow factor. … It’s sort of like a Flintstone steak.”

Japanese Kobe: “Look at it. It sells itself. At a restaurant it’s $30, $40 an ounce. We sell it for $120 a pound, which is a lot cheaper than going out to eat it. It’s like butter.”

THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

Flat Iron: “They’re tender as a filet almost, but they actually got flavor like a ribeye or a New York. And they’re flat, so they cook fast. And yes, they are cheap.”

Teres Major: “It’s another shoulder cut you don’t find everywhere, but they make great petite filets, or grill the whole piece and slice it.”

Hanger: “A lot less expensive. Marinate real well, grill ’em up and slice ’em. … Medium rare is the best you cook ’em ’cause they’ll get real tough if you go beyond that.”

Ron Lutz's Butcher Block reflects his decades of experience, including more than 10 years as Treasure Island's head butcher.

Ron Lutz's Butcher Block reflects his decades of experience, including more than 10 years as Treasure Island's head butcher.

OTHER BITS

Cheek: “Awesome braised.”

Tongue: “Little firm, but a great beefy taste. ... It’s all what you’re brought up on. If you were a 2-year-old kid and I fed you beef tongue, you’d love it today.”

Heart: “Did you see us on Top Chef Masters? … Chris Cosentino, who won it, he came in and did his last shopping with me and talked us up throughout the whole series. ... So he brought beef heart and made tartare, which I would’ve loved to try.”

MEATY WISDOM

Keep burgers simpler (and cheaper). “A lot of people are doing these trendy things where it’s short rib, brisket, chuck. … I’m not bashing any chefs; they do their thing and it’s a great thing, but I personally believe in just a nice choice chuck.”

Rocky Balboa doesn’t train in the cooler. “Sides of beef stopped 30 years ago … so all beef comes in primal cuts, like chuck, rib, loin, round, and then you take it from there and break it down into the steaks or roasts.”

Kobe-style Wagyu hot dogs?! “No matter what animal, you always got by-products you gotta make something with. So you got trimmings, you can make hot dogs. … We sell it all.”

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