Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks With Port And Peppercorn Sauce
Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks With Port And Peppercorn Sauce

Day in and day out, most summertime backyard grilling concentrates on the basics: hamburgers and hot dogs, chicken breasts, and maybe a kabob or two.

But sometimes, only a great steak will do.

For that reason, I like to make my grilled steaks really count. And that often means cooking a rib-eye.

This boneless cut from the center of the rib section is one of the best steaks for grilling. The simple reason is that the muscle does very little hard work, so it doesn't toughen up; and it typically develops a good marbling of rich-tasting fat. No, it's not the leanest, healthiest of cuts; but every bite bursts with tender, juicy, beefy flavor. And, besides, I'm talking here about the kind of once-in-a-while splurge that can make it easier for you to stick to a healthy eating plan.

I love to serve this cut of meat in my restaurants, too. At Spago, we offer it as an on-the-bone, French-style cote de boeuf for two, carved tableside. For supermarket shopping and casual home service, however, you'll find it far easier to look for boneless rib-eyes or bone-in rib steaks. And, though we always serve the finest Prime beef in my restaurants, this cut will deliver excellent results even if you buy the more reasonably priced Choice grade.

With steak this good, there's no reason to get too fancy in its preparation. I like to add flavor simply by brushing the steaks with extra-virgin olive oil and then rubbing them with dry seasonings. Coarsely ground black pepper is always good with robust meat, and a minced fresh herb such as thyme leaves or oregano adds another dimension. You could go spicier if you like, using dried red chili or chipotle (smoked jalapeno) flakes; or try Asian seasonings like minced ginger with garlic. But don't season with salt until just before cooking, because it will draw out moisture if left in contact with the meat for too long.

Just a few hours in the refrigerator will allow the seasonings to flavor the meat. Be sure to remove the steaks from the refrigerator while the grill heats up, allowing them to come to room temperature so they'll cook more quickly and evenly.

Preparing rib-eyes this way alone, you will be delighted with the results. However special-occasion main course that these steaks are, I also like to offer a sauce with them. My Port-and-Green-Peppercorn Sauce takes a little while to make, because you have to reduce its combination of red wine, Port, and broth to produce a complex concentration of flavors and a rich coating consistency. But the work is simple. And we all need something to keep us busy while the fire heats up!

Grilled Rib-Eye Steak Recipe With Port & Peppercorn Sauce

Serves 6

6 boneless rib-eye steaks, each 10 to 12 ounces and about 1 inch thick

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil

Port and Peppercorn Sauce (recipe follows)

Finely chopped fresh chives, for garnish

Trim excess fat from the steaks. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the thyme and black pepper. Brush the steaks on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with the thyme-pepper mixture, pressing the mixture into the meat. Place on a platter or baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours.

About an hour before serving time, prepare the Port and Peppercorn Sauce.

Preheat an outdoor grill, following manufacturer's instructions. About 30 minutes before cooking, remove the steaks from the refrigerator to come to room temperature.

Season the room-temperature steaks on both sides with salt. Grill 10 to 12 minutes total for medium-rare, turning the steaks once and giving them a quarter-turn halfway through the cooking time on each side to give them decorative crosshatch marks.

Transfer the steaks to a warmed platter and cover with foil to rest for 5 to 7 minutes before serving.

To serve, transfer each steak to a serving plate. Spoon some of the sauce over each steak, garnish with chives, and pass the remaining sauce at the table.

PORT AND PEPPERCORN SAUCE

Makes about 1-1/2 cups

1 cup organic, low-sodium beef broth

2 cups red wine

1-1/2 cups ruby Port

1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

1-1/2 cups organic, low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons brine-packed canned green peppercorns, drained, soaked in cold water for 20 minutes, and drained again

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

First, in a small saucepan, boil the beef broth until it has reduced by half. Set aside.

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the red wine, Port, shallot, thyme, and black peppercorns. Bring to a boil over high heat and continue boiling until reduced by about two thirds and syrupy.

Pour through a fine-meshed sieve into a clean saucepan. Stir in the chicken broth and continue boiling until reduced by two thirds again. Stir in the reduced beef broth and boil until syrupy, about 5 minutes longer.

Stir in the rinsed and drained green peppercorns. Cover and keep warm until just before serving time.

While the cooked steaks are resting, over very low heat whisk in the butter a piece at a time, adding a new piece only when the previous one is fully melted and incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

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