Wisdom in Aging: Wissota Chophouse’s secret to a perfect steak

Diana Peterson

Few dining experiences are as amazing as the ones you get in a great steakhouse when a tender, mouth-watering piece of meat is served simply prepared. So, what makes that encounter so special?

We went to the experts at Wissota Chophouse (100 N. Bridge St., Chippewa Falls) to learn the secret behind what makes a great steak. Chef Dan Caneff has been with the restaurant since it opened in September 2016. He revealed three factors that create mouthwatering cuts.

One of the most important aspects of an incredible steak is beginning with a high-quality piece of meat.

“Wissota Chophouse takes pride in the fact that they buy the best-quality meat available, all USDA-certified angus beef,” Caneff said. The restaurant features two reserve cuts on the menu: Kansas City and Bone-in Tenderloin. Kansas City has most of the marbling on the outside of the cut. This will provide flavor at higher temperatures, but also make removing the fat easier when cooked on the rare side. Bone-in tenderloin is cut from the hip sirloin end, also known as the head or large end of the meat. It is very tender and full of flavor.

“The dry-aging process makes all the difference in preparing an amazing steak,” Canaff said.  The meat he purchases goes through a 21-day wet aging, followed by a 21- to 40-day dry aging where it hangs in a humidity-controlled room to oxidize at 38 degrees. As the enzymes break down, the meat becomes more tender and takes on a nutty flavor. Water exits the meat, and it technically shrinks. As it becomes denser, the flavor gets more intense. It’s more expensive to produce because 30-35% of the actual loin is lost during the process.

The third element to a great steak is the enhancement the patron chooses. To lock in the flavor, Chef Caneff sears his top-tier center cuts rather than simply broiling them. The only ingredients he uses are salt, pepper, and butter. This tasty foundation can be built upon depending on what is added to the steak. Wissota Chophouse has an extensive offering of enhancements, including foie gras, caramelized onions, Bearnaise, Hollandaise, bacon, wild mushrooms, and bleu cheese.

Whenever possible, the restaurant buys from local vendors. The bread is all made by One Love, the smoked gouda comes from Marieke Gouda in Thorp, the bleu cheese is made by Emmi Roth, the bacon is provided by Nueske’s, and they have begun sourcing local organic beef.

“(The restaurant) prides itself on serving the best quality steak with unmatched hospitality,” General Manager Heidi Shervey says. “We are personable yet professional. We pay attention to all the details, including polishing the silver and refilling water glasses and coffee cups when they are half full.” In addition to beef, Wissota Chophouse also serves pork and lamb chops that have been dry aged.

Check out wissotachophouse.com to learn more about the wine and beer selection and the delectable desserts that are available to accompany your perfect steak. You can try one of their superb steaks from 4-9pm Sunday through Thursday and 4-10pm on Friday and Saturday. There is also a Sunday brunch from 9am till 1pm.