When it comes to the art of selecting and cooking a good steak, it seems as if you need an advanced degree from A&M in order to confidently ruminate on such complexities as marbling scores, grass-fed beef versus grain-fed, and dry aging versus wet. Your best bet? Consult your butcher, bring home the nicest piece of meat your wallet will allow, and introduce it to a little salt and pepper and an open flame. The merits of such an uncomplicated approach were readily apparent to no less a bovine authority than J. Frank Dobie, of whose technique his buddy Walter Prescott Webb wrote, “He wants a green stick with the steak speared on it. . . . If he can drop it a time or two in the ashes, he considers the flavor improved.”
No need to hunker over a cowboy campfire in your backyard, but it would be worth your while to try this ribeye preparation from Jon Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine. There’s no doubt who’s the star of this show: a handsome bone-in beauty that comes off the fire with a crackly salt-and-pepper char, a lush texture, and full-on meaty flavor. As for the butter, you can take it or leave it, but once you taste it, you’ll take it (or at least load up your baked potato with an embarrassingly large dollop).
Texas Ribeye With Three-Pepper Compound Butter (Serves 1 easily)
1 pound unsalted butter (this butter freezes well, which is good, because you’ll have a lot left over)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 fresh jalapeño, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle powder
1/8 teaspoon chile de árbol powder (you can substitute other chile powders if you can’t find chipotle or árbol)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 18-ounce bone-in ribeye
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon canola oil
Allow the butter to soften almost to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Place in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, add the next five ingredients, and blend well. Transfer the butter onto a sheet of parchment paper and roll into a log. Refrigerate until ready to use. Season the steak with salt and pepper on both sides, then brush lightly with canola oil on both sides. Grill over a medium-high fire to desired temperature (130 degrees for medium-rare, about 6 to 8 minutes). Remove the steak and allow to rest for 2 to 3 minutes. While the steak is still hot, cut a slice of the butter and place on top of the steak, allowing the butter to melt all over the ribeye and plate, then serve.
Adapted from Fine Texas Cuisine, by Jon Bonnell. Published by Gibbs Smith.