Charred and Crisp
Well-charred, perfectly cooked from edge-to-edge, and tender as can be. To get here requires a bit of effort, but it's worth it in the end. To start with, you'll need some excellent Prime-grade, aged ribeye steaks (you can do it yourself at home using this method). I like steaks aged a minimum of 45 days.
Step 1: Ready to Trim
A 60-day aged prime rib, ready to be trimmed into individual steaks. I aged this one myself in a mini fridge at my office using this method.
Step 2: Peel the Fat
Start by peeling off the outer fat cap. Since it was already removed once during butchering, this should be a pretty simple process.
Step 3: Start Trimming
Trim the outer fat layers. The goal is to remove as little meat from underneath as possibly, so work in thin slivers, getting deeper and deeper as you go, stopping as soon as the meat and fat look fresh. If the meat is a little slippery, use a clean kitchen towel to get a better grip.
Step 4: Almost There!
Keep trimming the outer surfaces until only clean white fat and red meat show. Follow up by trimming the dried-out layer on the cut surfaces. You may need to fiddle around a bit to get the meat off the bones in that area, depending on how it was butchered.
Step 5: Ready to Roast!
Trimmed and ready to cook as a roast. (Need tips on that? Read all about Perfect Prime Rib here!). For our purposes, we're going to need to cut it into steaks...
Step 6: Steak!
To cut it into steaks, just carefully slice through the meat following the space between the bones. The only difficult portion will be around the chine bone, which you'll need to trim around before cutting off and discarding. You'll end up with thick steaks, each ready to serve about two people.
Step 7: Season Generously
In my experience, the number one mistake home cooks make is underseasoning. Season your steak generously with salt and pepper. Very generously. Remember—the seasoning has to account for all of the completely unseasoned steak that lies beneath the outer crust.
Step 8: Bag And Cook
In order to get the steak perfectly evenly cooked from edge to edge, we're going to cook it sous-vide. That is, we'll pack it in bags and immerse it in water that is at precisely the final temperature we wish to serve it at (in this case, 127°F for medium-rare). You can do this in a home water oven such as the Sous Vide Supreme, or by using our Beer Cooler sous vide hack for a fraction of the cost.
Steaks this thick will need to be held at 127°F for about one hour before they are ready to sear and finish. They can stay in the water for a total of four hours before their texture begins to be adversely affected.
Step 9: Hot, Hot, Hot!
Remove the steaks from their bags and carefully blot them dry with paper towels. Next, heat a mixture of canola oil and butter (or rendered beef fat if you prefer) in a large cast iron skillet over high heat until the butter is completely melted and starting to brown.
Step 10: Sear!
Place the steaks in the pan and cook them in the hot oil and butter just until they begin to take on a touch of color, about 30 seconds. Flip them over and...
Step 11: Torch!
...torch their top surface. It's essential to cook them slightly before torching them, as the fat that clings to their surface helps distribute the intense heat of the torch flame more easily, allowing the steak to brown evenly.
Step 12: Keep Cooking
Continue torching and cooking until the top crust is deep brown with charred spots, about a minute total. Flip the steak and torch the other side until dark brown and charred, another 30 seconds or so. The rapid two-sided cooking action allows you to quickly develop a deep, dark crust without fear of overcooking the inside. Indeed, it takes less than half as long to develop a crust using the torch/cast iron method.
There's another good reason to combine the two methods: torching on its own can often result in incomplete combustion—you can taste the propane on the surface of the meat. Adding the heat of the pan and the extra air turbulence and fuel that comes with it aptly solves this problem.
Dry-aged beef in a cast iron skillet. Damn, that looks good. This is the only method I know of that'll get you that steakhouse-quality charring without the benefit of a grill or an 1,800°F broiler.
Step 13: Get the Edges
Stack the steaks and turn them onto their sides in order to crisp up the fat around the edges. For some folks, this is the best part!
Step 14: Let it Rest (but not too much)
Transfer your steaks to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and allow them to rest. For steaks this size, normally you'd need to let them rest for at least 10 minutes or so in order to maximize juiciness (read more about the science of resting here). However, since sous-vide cooking creates virtually no temperature gradient inside the steak, resting is largely unnecessary. All we need to do is wait a few moments for the small gradient created during our two minute sear to disappear.
Worried that its crisp, crackly crust might disappear in that time? Never fear, for we have...
Step 15: Pour on the Fat
...sizzling hot fat to re-crisp it. Just before serving, reheat any drippings left in the pan (along with some smashed garlic or sliced shallots, if you'd like) until they just start to smoke. Pour them over the rested steaks and watch as they sizzle and re-crisp, giving you the best of both worlds: perfectly rested, tender, juicy meat, along with a crisp, crackly, fresh-out-of-the-fire-quality crust.
Step 16: Carve and Serve
If you want to be all fancy about it, you can slice the steak off the bone and fan the slices before serving to your guests. But it's a lot more fun to serve it whole, Flintstone's style.
You will not find a beefier, juicier, more tender steak in even the finest steakhouse. For an even more decadent experience, toss a pitcher full of the pan drippings on the side for dipping or pouring.