Tired of quarantine cooking? Now you can beef up your summer cooking game with The Best Steak Ever! Chef Melissa Cookston has step-by-step instructions for preparing The Best Steak Ever!
What is the "Best Steak Ever?" A Wagyu Ribeye Cap. If you don’t want to splurge on Wagyu, you can purchase prime or choice ribeye’s at your local grocery store. What makes a Ribeye Cap the best steak ever? The marbling in the cap (or spinalis dorsi muscle) of one of the most flavorful cuts, the ribeye.
Waygu Ribeye Cap
In case you don’t know, the spinalis dorsi muscle, or ribeye cap, is generally cut with the ribeye steak. It’s the uber-tender, outer portion of the steak. On a ribeye loin, the spinalis does not go the whole way down. The “loin end” on a ribeye generally resembles a strip more than a classic “ribeye.” This end also has a texture more similar to a sirloin or NY strip steak. As a butcher cuts into the loin, the stereotypically looking ribeye emerges. Yep, this is the steak with the spinalis. The good part. The juicy part. The part that absolutely melts in your mouth, with much ooo-ing and eyes cast heavenward while you chew. That’s a ribeye cap, and you really can’t get anything better as a steak than that.
Trimming it out
If you want to buy a whole ribeye and trim it out yourself, it’s not really hard. I’m not going to get into everything here, there’s plenty of videos on YouTube about it. If you purchase a whole ribeye cap, know that you will have to trim off the silver skin (again, YouTube) and then cut it into steaks. This is the way I purchase my ribeye cap. I trim out the silver skin and then cut (with the grain) about 3 finger length strips. Tightly roll them up, tie them with butchers’ twine, and you’ll be ready for the grill.
What makes it the best steak?
In a word, marbling. If you like tender steaks, you’re probably a filet fan. If you like more texture, value, and a general “beefiness,” you probably prefer sirloins. If you want more flavor, you’re a ribeye fan. If you want the ultimate, you’ll be wanting these. Beef gets flavor from muscles that have to work. Beef gets tenderness from either marbling (intra-muscular fat) or muscles that don’t work as hard. Filet (aka beef tenderloins or tenders) is not a muscle that works hard, thus its’ tenderness. That being said, it doesn’t have a ton of intramuscular fat, so it is not intrinsically flavorful. Sirloins (the hips) work hard, and therefore generate a good beefy flavor. Again, as they are more hard worked muscles, they aren’t super tender (barring a couple of exceptions to the whole sirloin, depending on how your butcher trims it out.
Now that brings in ribeyes
Ribeyes are kind of a mix of muscles - they have to work, so they develop flavor. But, they don’t have to work too hard, so they also generate good intramuscular fat. It’s this fat that melts while cooking, making the ribeye taste so moist and juicy. It’s also this fat that carries the flavor over your taste buds and makes you absolutely love the flavor. And, of all the different muscles, it’s the spinalis dorsi that has the most intramuscular fat.
Okay, enough of the theory, let's get the steaks on the grill!
As I said, Ribeye Cap steak is an amazing steak (and expensive) so you want to cook it right. You can usually buy choice or prime ribeye caps at a few butcher shops, or even Costco. I ordered these online and made sure they were a wagyu grade (when you’re going to splurge, SPLURGE!!!) I like to roll them up like a filet- they cook better using a reverse sear method, and they look pretty dang impressive on a plate! I used a new Kingsford Charcoal for cooking these- Kingsford Apple. It has apple chips embedded in the charcoal and added some great smoky nuance to the steaks.
What about the BUTTAH?
You said it, butter makes everything better! For these, I made a quick garlic-rosemary compound butter and the flavor could not have been better. Making your own compound butter is super easy, I usually keep 3 or 4 in my freezer at any time, so I’ll have it when it’s time to serve something- cilantro-lime butter goes perfectly with grilled skirt steak, a lemon-thyme butter for scallops, etc.
Anyway, follow the recipe below to ensure get a great steak! These were amazing, and I hope yours are too. Now get out there and grill!
For the butter:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, European or cultured
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Juice from half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
For the steaks:
4 Ribeye cap steaks rolled and tied to look like filets
1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon paprika
3 tablespoons Kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon granulated onion
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
Allow butter to come to room temperature. Add to a mixing bowl with other butter ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap. Scrape butter onto plastic wrap, then use wrap to form butter into a log shape. Refrigerate at least one hour to firm up before using. Cut butter into wheels to place on cooked steaks.
In a small bowl, add seasonings for steak and mix seasonings together. Season outside surfaces of steak. Allow steaks to sit out at least 30 minutes at room temperature before grilling (lightly covered.)
Start grill with coals on one side of grill. Oil grates. Place steaks on opposite side of grill. Using a meat thermometer, cook until steaks reach an internal temperature of 120 degrees F. Remove steaks from grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
While steaks are resting, open grill to allow more air to charcoal so it will get hotter. Add a few coals if necessary. Place steaks over hot coals and allow to sear and develop some delicious char marks. Remove from grill, plate and top with butter. Serve to the acclaim of your family and friends!
Recipe and photo courtesy of Melissa Cookston