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How to Cook a Ribeye Steak - How to Cut and Grill a Rib eye Steak from the Ribeye Roast
Perfect Ribeye Steak
I don’t get steaks very often, and I get very good steaks even more rarely. However, for my birthday (29th again, thanks for asking), my fabulous, wonderful awesome brother brought me a ribeye. Note I said a ribeye – I got the whole thing – 16 pounds of fabulous beef! This is an opportunity not to be wasted. We hollered at the entire clan. I got the mashed potatoes going and the grill fired up and smokin’.
Now of course you can dry age it and roast it off as a whole thing – which I do every year at Christmas. That’s another article. In this case, we cut it into individual ribeye steaks. Why? Easy – if you purchase ribeye steaks at the grocery or at the butcher, they will charge you more than if you purchase a big old Flintstones-style cut as a whole. I’ve seen ribeyes on sale for $9-11 a pound – and they weren’t particularly good ones. If you purchase the entire thing, you can often find it for $5 a pound or even less. Yes, it is true that an entire ribeye roast can run 12-18 pounds, so it is still not inexpensive (mine was 16 pounds). But with judicious carving and quality wrapping/freezing, it does bring a normally out of reach luxury item into the realm of the ‘sometimes’. If you’ve read my other articles, normally my proteins cluster around $2 a pound, unless something is an amazing deal or there’s a special occasion. Like my birthday! Yay for brothers!
The carving is simple. Just decide how thick you want your steaks and cut accordingly. We were planning on feeding an entire crew – my family is large and loud – so we went with 1 inch cuts. You can go thicker, but you’ll add a cooking technique (you’ll need to finish in an oven). Not a hard one though – so it’s up to you.
I got fourteen 1 inch steaks from that entire ribeye, which broke down to $5.42 a steak. I love to do this when I get to entertain - $10 a person to entertain is pretty awesome, and this lets me meet those criteria with ease. All while providing a steak most people don’t get outside of a steakhouse. You’ll look goooooood.
Back to the meat and method. One of the things you’re paying for when you buy a higher quality meat is fat. Yes – fat. More particularly, marbling – that just means the fat is all over the place throughout the meat. Fat means a couple of things. The first is some flavor. The second is tenderness. You’ll want to trim some of the fat – judiciously. On one end of a ribeye steak for example, there is a ‘knob’ of solid, white beef fat. Trim this off. You'll also have a strip of thick fat on one side - this is from the 'fat cap' visible in the picture of the entire roast. The rest you want to leave in place to do its job – which is to provide you with a juicy, tender, fabulous steak.
While fat does mean some flavor – much of what we want from marbling is tenderness. The buttery, melt in your mouth quality of good beef. Typically ‘higher quality’ meats – ribeyes, New York Strips, filet mignon and the like – are more expensive and desirable because of their tenderness. Cheaper cuts have a far more intense flavor, but are tough if cooked incorrectly. In this case we have tender, so we will be using a quick, high heat method – the grill. (You can use a cast iron skillet as well, with equally phenomenal results.) We want to enhance flavor, but not overwhelm the natural beefy qualities.
If you purchase a certain commercial steak seasoning at the store, the one named after a major Canadian city which rhymes with ‘not at all’ – you’ll pay $3-4 for a tiny little bottle. Make this one instead for pennies – and you’ll be able to tweak and tailor it to your preferences. For example, if there are children or non-spicy-loving people around, follow this. If you like heat, add more red pepper. Just don’t substitute fresh herbs for the dried – they’ll scorch and taste nasty.
3 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried rosemary or oregano (or both, they both taste great)
1 tablespoon dried fennel seeds
Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or a blender, and process in pulses until you have a coarse grind. Don’t go crazy – you don’t want dust. Mainly you want to break up the red pepper flakes and fennel seeds some.
So once you’ve cut your steaks (easiest done if the meat if very cold), and trimmed off the big chunks of fat (do yourself a favor and make sure your knife is wicked sharp), you want to let the meat come to room temperature before you proceed. This takes about half an hour – give or take a beer. It will crust better and cook more evenly if it’s closer to the temperature of the cooking medium. Make sure your grill is pretty hot – 500 is what I shoot for – or medium high if using a skillet. If you have preheated correctly, then you’ll be able to turn the flame to low, and the interior of the grill with the lid shut will stay where you need it. You’ll get both direct and indirect heat, helping to develop the crust while allowing the interior to get to the perfect medium rare.
Speaking of medium rare – I set a timer for three minutes – and do it four times. At the first three minute interval, turn the steak crosswise to its first location. This will allow the grill marks to crosshatch beautifully. You don’t have to do this – you can leave it in place the entire six minutes, but since people eat with their eyes first, it can be dynamite on the plate. At the six minute interval, turn it over. At nine minutes, turn it crosswise and at 12 minutes pull it to a plate to rest. It needs a minimum of five minutes rest time, and ten is better. Just throw a foil tent over it to maintain heat. If you prefer another state of doneness use 8 minutes total for rare, sixteen for medium. Just divide the total by four and turn or flip accordingly. If you want well done, then take it to medium, and once at the 16 minute mark, move the steak off direct heat to the side, and give it another four-five minutes with the lid closed. I personally don’t know why anyone would want to do this, but if you must, that’s how to do it. Of course these times work with the 1 inch cuts I use - you'll have to adjust if you used a different thickness.
If you did go thicker - that's fine! But you'll need to finish in a hot oven. Place steaks in a cast iron skillet or heavy baking sheet, and pop them into a 350F degree oven for about ten-twenty minutes or so, depending on just how thick you cut your steaks. Better to go a little under, than over.
There are also any number of fabulous sauces that ache to come together with a good ribeye – Béarnaise, peppercorn, a red wine reduction – any of those are fabulous. But I adore just a pat of butter stuck on top while it’s resting. It doesn’t get much better than that.
- The Thrillbilly Gourmet
Combining classic technique with everyday food for spectacular results!