Friday, January 11, 2008

About Beef Manhattan

Not because I was hungry. Because I'd discovered some0ne who had never heard of it, while at lunch on Monday.
We took a new, 30-something colleague for a birthday lunch at one of those small-town restaurants that you can depend on for hot coffee, good food and and a smile. The Copper Kettle, in downtown Huntington, not far from Nick's-of-the-pork-tenderloin-fame, which Dan Quayle made famous during his vice presidency.
Anyway, John grew up in New England, worked in Rome for a few years, then moved to California for another few. Plus, since he worked as a journalist, he's well-traveled in between all those places.
Beef Manhattan was one of the specials for the day; we commented on it as we perused the menu, and that's when John asked, "What's Beef Manhattan?"
I picked up my jaw, and tried to explain. I do love a good Beef Manhattan, with thin-sliced, tender beef, fluffy mashed potatoes, and just enough gravy to satisfy, though I don't indulge in it very often anymore.
I guess I figured since the recipe is rather ubiquitous in diners and restaurants, and had "Manhattan" in its name, it had originated in NYC, and thus had a aura of East Coast sophistication, rather than the reek of Midwestern comfort food. Surely, I thought, Beef Manhattan is not as peculiar to the Midwest as, say, those flying-saucer-sized pork tenderloins are to Indiana?
Well, I tried to research the culinary history of Beef Manhattan, but didn't find much more than this:
"Beef Manhattan is a dish consisting of roast beef and gravy. It is often served with mash potatoes either on top or on the side. A variation on this dish is Turkey Manhattan, which substitutes turkey for the roast beef," on wikipedia.com.
I also found a recipe here»
In my stunned shock, I didn't really quiz John as to how he'd escaped Beef Manhattan--if he avoided those diners and restaurants that tend to serve it, or if he's a health-food devotee, or if it just doesn't exist in New England (even the small towns?), California (possible, but again, even in the small towns?), and Rome (given: probably not).
The long and short if it was, now I'm hungry for Beef Manhattan, and might have to return to the Copper Kettle for a serving next week, fat and calorie content be damned.
Also, I'm impressed, once again, that the country is not the homogeneous melting pot that some writers and reporters would have us believe; that we are not all McDonald-ized -- each region, each state, each little town still has that stamp that says: Yep, we're weird in our own way.
And if you need further proof, hop on by Nick's sometime, and pony up for the tenderloin. Take your Lipitor first, those things are breaded AND fried.
How about you? Ever ordered up a Beef Manhattan? (Or a pork tenderloin?)

6 comments:

Kyle said...

I grew up in downstate Illinois (relatively close to Evansville) and Beef Manhattans were on the menu of every small town diner in my part of the state. It was always my favorite thing on the menu. As far as I know they disappeared in the eighties and nineties along with the diners and the rise of fast food...

Anonymous said...

From what Have seen a Beef manhattan is pretty much the same thing as an open faced roast beef

Anonymous said...

I had a roast beef Manhattan from Elegance Restaurant in Brownsburg, Indiana for lunch today.

It's the first "splurge" I've had since I began my better-eating-and-daily-exercise regiment two weeks ago, and I wanted to see how many calories were in it (I just got back from burning 300 calories at the gym immediately afterwards), and I found your blog.

Depending on who you ask, they are between 550 and 850 calories, but...
otal Fat 16.47g 25%
Saturated Fat 4.67g - 23%
Monounsaturated Fat 2.75g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.84g
Cholesterol 67.06mg - 22%
Sodium 2224mg - 93%
Potassium 2157.73mg - 62%
Total Carbohydrate 133.78g - 45%
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 2g
Protein 34.25g - 68%

...but I've been eating these things a couple times a year since I was a kid. Gotta love comfort food.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in rosedale, indiana and beef manhattans and pork tenderlion sandwiches were very common. Since I've lived in Alaska and Georgia, no such luck on finding one. Everytime I return home Moggers in
Terre Haute is the place to get either one

Big Town Girl... said...

So I decided to be just that - nice - and actually ASKED my family what type of meals they'd like for dinner the next week or so, as I was making out my grocery list. Hubby pipped up "Beef Manhattan!"...I had HEARD of Beef Manhattan and thought I KNEW what it consisted of, but I had never tasted it - and never thought it was anything that even sounded tasty. Ok, so I'm from Chicago and we're big Italian Beef people...manhattan...not so much. So here I am, searching on the web to find out extactly WHAT it is...and more importantly, how I would even go about making it. Maybe it's an Indiana thing, or maybe it's so culinarily rudimentary that everyone innately knows how to produce this feast...but I CANNOT find any real recipes for it...like, how do you make the meat? Is it a sliced roast? Pot Roast? Shredded beef??? In any event....you can add me to the list of people who don't know what a beef manhattan is and I'm 40! ;)

Anonymous said...

I grew up in northern Indiana where there's this great amish cooking restaraunt called Das Essenhaus. It's a pretty popular tourist stop but yet still hometown. They make the best Beef Manhatten you will ever have. But around my area, we refer to it as a Wet Beef.