A Texas ribeye is my favorite meal.
Ask any of my friends and they can usually pre-order for me at a restaurant. But honestly, I prefer to cook steaks at home. Sure – you can get an amazing steak at a high end restaurant. They have access to Prime Grade beef that is sometimes more difficult to get at your local butcher and generally the chefs on grill know exactly how to cook it to perfection.
But there is just something crazy good about the entire experience of cooking a big ribeye yourself.
I love to cook outside over an open fire – and many of the recipes you will see here will reflect that – but sometimes you just want to have meat on the table in a hurry and not have to fire up the grill. Some people even claim that the only way to cook a steak is outside on the grill. This recipe might change your mind.
There are some basic rules here though that have to be followed:
Even though you aren’t going to the time expense of setting up the grill, it doesn’t mean that you should skimp on the quality of your beef. When it comes to ribeyes – grade matters – find Prime beef.
Make sure you buy a thick steak and don’t be intimidated by worrying that you won’t be able to “get it cooked”. It needs to be at least 1 1/2 inches thick.
Do some extra butcher work at home: trim off the extra thick white fat (people don’t eat it and it just makes it harder to cook) and take the time to tie butcher’s twine around the steak so that it stays together and cooks evenly. This is especially true of big steaks.
Let the steak sit at room temperature for at least an hour. This is the single most common mistake made – people pull a steak out of the refrigerator, throw it on the fire, and then wonder why it is so hard to get it to the right temperature without burning the exterior.
Season the steak liberally but simply and only right before you start to cook. I use kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. If I want a secret ingredient then I use my Secret Steak Seasoning that I will share here. And don’t salt to early – only right before you cook the steak. If you put salt on the meat to early it will draw moisture to the surface making it much harder to get a delicious crusty char.
Cook in hot cast iron in a place that can handle a lot of smoke. Cast iron is God’s gift to cooking. The heat retention, ease of use, and heirloom quality make this something that you will treasure when it comes to ribeyes. You really can’t get it too hot in a home kitchen so you don’t have to worry about the temperature: really, really hot. This process does create a surprisingly great deal of smoke so be prepared with the exhaust fan running and a window open.
Be creative when you season in the pan. Whereas I’m simple on what I sprinkle on a steak, feel free to jazz it up as you cook with some herbs, butter, garlic, or a mop sauce.
Remove the steak to rest between 120 and 125 degrees for medium rare. Sure – you can go more, but you will regret it. I feel ribeyes taste the best at “medium rare plus” which basically means you need to “at least” get it to medium rare. Some people like it more rare – like my daughter – so that’s ok too. But this temperature will get you good results.
Use an instant read meat thermometer. You have a lot invested in this recipe so don’t trust making a mistake on the temperature with a guess. Discount store thermometers rarely work fast enough to allow you to measure the temperature without stopping the cooking process too long. The Thermapen is the steak grill thermometer of choice.
Let it rest for the right amount of time before eating. This is by far the second biggest mistake in cooking steaks at home. That ribeye will be coasting fairly quickly to the target temperature of 120 degrees and it will keep going. It wants to keep going. It is enjoying the ride. If you cut into the steak too early all of that heat will force generous amounts of red liquid all over your plate and guests. Plus, the steak will taste better when it coasts down the other side of the temperature curve, relaxes, and the steam and heat inside the meat end up on your fork.
It is acceptable to dress up a ribeye with a condiment. This is also something that I hear – especially from my friends – that “a good steak doesn’t need anything else.” In general this is true, but there is nothing wrong with a good compound butter, a sauce such as béarnaise, or even a mop of pan sauce before being sliced on the platter.
One 1 1/2 to 2 inch thick ribeye, bone-in, Prime Grade, trimmed of excess white fat, and tied around the middle with butcher’s twine
kosher salt (or Secret Steak Seasoning)
black pepper, freshly ground
thyme, fresh, wrapped in twine
1 tbs vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves
3 tbs butter, room temperature
sel gris as a finishing salt
Remove the steak from the refrigerator for one hour before cooking.
Place a large cast iron skillet in the oven and preheat to 450 to 500 degrees.
With a brush, apply the oil to both sides of the steak including the bone. Season liberally with salt and pepper or Secret Steak Seasoning if you prefer. Remove the skillet from the oven and place over a high heat for 5 additional minutes and then place the steak flat in the middle of the pan. Expect a large amount of smoke – this is normal.
Cook 1 minute without moving, add the herbs and garlic, and then flip the steak. Cook 30 seconds more without moving then place the steak in the oven. Cook in the oven for 2 minutes and then return the steak to the burner. Flip the steak and add the butter to the top of the meat. Lift the pan and spoon the oil infused with the butter, garlic, and herbs over the steak for another 2 minutes.
Check the temperature. At this point, minutes count. When the steak reaches 120 to 125 degrees remove it from the pan to a warm platter. Baste some of the pan sauce over the steak and tent with foil. Allow it to rest for at least 5 minutes.
Slice and serve with condiments of your choice. Season with finishing salt.
Note: Sel Gris is a great salt to sprinkle on finished steaks. It is similar to fleur de sel and is harvested from the same pools. This salt, though, comes from the bottom of the evaporation pan and has a moist, mineral-flavor that enhances the flavor profile of steak by staying crunchy and not absorbing additional moisture from the meat.
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