Cutting into a deftly seared, pepper-crusted ribeye to reveal its ruby interior brings a quiver to your hand, perhaps a catch in your throat: You want the moment to last, but you can’t endure the suspense. There’s nothing like that first bite, that tandem brush of satiny meat and caramelized edge against your lips. It’s enough to make you close your eyes and give thanks that you’re in Texas, where ribeye rules as the king of steaks. It only goes to reason that Texans hold this steak in higher regard than most other folks, for ours is the largest beef-producing state in the nation. And though it was once the T-bone that was celebrated, today’s heirs of the legendary cattle range know that a ribeye’s abundant marbling and depth of flavor trump all others. So take that bite. Fat be damned.
How to Make It
When friends from Boston come to visit, you know what sights they need to see: you in the backyard, a sizzling ribeye on the grill. For the perfect sear, take the advice of Louis Lambert, who grew up in a West Texas ranching family that routinely stored its sides of beef in a meat locker in downtown Odessa. The owner-chef of five restaurants in Austin and Fort Worth, Lambert rhapsodizes easily about the “big, juicy, velvety mouthfeel” of a ribeye. He insists you buy choice grade or better—“the best you can afford”—and is adamant about marbling. (Ask for a steak that’s at least an inch thick so you can char the outside and still have a rosy, tender inside.) Pat the meat dry with paper towels, rub olive oil and cracked pepper into it, and let it come to room temperature. Heat your grill using wood or high-quality charcoal, and before you throw the steak on, put some coarse salt on it. “For a medium-rare steak, get a good sear on both sides, then finish it in a very hot oven for five to ten minutes,” says Lambert. Don’t forget the cardinal rules: Flip with tongs (never a fork), and let the steak rest for five minutes before cutting into it. On the side, says Lambert, serve potato gratin and a “big, sloppy salad.” — JN