It's grilling season, and this recipe is for people who love steak, love to grill, and want to splurge on something truly special.
The perfect summer steak recipe has very few ingredients; it’s really about letting the beef shine. It also has very few steps: just rub, grill, rest, and serve. Nonetheless, this recipe requires practice and finesse. Please read all the extra notes, as they serve to clarify the goal and how to reach it.
- Dry-aged (42-63 days is a typical crowd favorite) Prime or Wagyu Ribeye Steaks, min 20 oz*
- Fresh minced garlic
- Chocolate, Chili, Cayenne, and Cardamom dry rub**
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Large flake sea salt
*Notes on the steak selectionDry-aged is best. However, if you cannot acquire dry-aged steaks, this recipe can be done with wet-aged beef. In which case, I recommend dry brining the steaks as an advance step. Simply pack the steaks well with extra coarse salt on all sides and leave uncovered in the cooler. After 2-3 hours, return, drain, rinse well, pat dry, and continue with the recipe. This will remove some of the excess water from the steak, enriching the beef flavor and preparing it for a better sear and more even cook.
**Notes on the dry rub.This dry rub is equal parts brown sugar and dark cocoa powder, with cardamom, cayenne, and fresh ground black pepper as desired. Note there is deliberately no salt. You can use any steak rub you prefer, but look for one with very little or no salt.
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 5 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp cardamom
- black pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
In general, I avoid introducing salt to the dry-aged steak until a finishing salt is used immediately prior to service. This will maintain an ideal texture, allow the rich dry-aged beef flavors to take center stage, and unique salts can also be selected for a precise pairing. For the perfect summer steak remember, when using salt as a finishing accouterment, you’re not looking for salty meat. Rather, you want seemingly competing peaks and valleys in the waves of the beef and salt flavor.
Instructions for Grilling Steak:
Approximately 8-12 hours prior to service, rub all sides of the steak with a healthy amount of minced garlic. Loosely cover and keep in the cooler until ready for firing and service.
When the service time approaches, lightly pat the beef dry with a paper towel. Rub all sides of the steak with a generous amount of the dry rub.
Cook the steaks to your desired doneness***. Allow to rest. Carve into slices. Lightly top with extra virgin olive oil and flake sea salt. Serve and enjoy!
***Notes on Cooking Methods.
The steak can be wonderfully cooked using various methods and techniques. But when grilling large steaks, I always treat the searing and the cooking as two separate processes.When searing, you want a very very high heat (practically as high as you can achieve), preferably from a nice hardwood fire. The goal is to create a wonderfully browned crust as quickly and directly as possible so as not to overcook the inside of the steak. When cooking, you want a nice low heat to gently cook all the way through the steak as you slowly approach the target temperature.
The order of the searing and cooking can be interchanged. Sometimes we will cook the steak sous vide first so they're the right doneness all the way through, then quickly sear them on an extremely high temp grill. (This process is called a "reverse sear.") Sometimes we will sear the raw steaks over a roaring fire, and then move them to a low temp zone to finish cooking. At other times we’ll start with the steaks on the highest grate over our Santa Maria grill, and once they're nicely warmed, drop them straight into the hot coals. (Guests love to watch searing done right in the coals, btw!)
Regardless of which method you choose, the goal is to end up with a rich sear and crust while still keeping the steak at a tender medium-rare-plus throughout.
Savor these last days of summer with the perfect summer steak! Eat well.