Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pan-Roasted Dry-Aged Rib Eye Steak

One of the greatest joys in life is biting into a juicy, perfectly cooked steak. That said, it can be difficult to get a steak just right, especially in the winter months when you don't have a smoky grill at your disposal. Some of the best pieces of meat I've ever had have been at David Chang's restaurants, Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momofuku Ssam Bar. The man just knows what he's doing. And until I got my hot little hands on his cookbook (courtesy of best friend and business partner, Alex Weiss), I had absolutely no idea how his steaks come out of the kitchen the way they do: lightly charred on the outside, beautifully medium rare on the inside, and dripping in the most amazing buttery pan juices. Enter one Momofuku cookbook. Mystery solved.

On Christmas Day, I dove right into the easiest recipe in the book: the pan-roasted dry-aged rib eye steak. It was the perfect holiday meal and it came out (dare I say) just as good as the ones I've had at Noodle Bar. I've never cooked a steak quite the same way before (browning on the stovetop, sticking it in the oven, then basting it in butter over a low flame), but trust that I'll probably never cook one any other way again, save for summertime grilling. It's that delicious. The recipe below may look long and overwhelming, but that's just because it is so detailed, you can't possibly go wrong. Read through it. It's actually very simple. xo

Pan-Roasted Dry-Aged Rib Eye
From Momofuku, by David Chang and Peter Meehan
One 2- to 2 1/2 lb bone-in rib-eye steak, preferably dry-aged
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
A few sprigs of thyme
3 garlic cloves
2 small shallots
Maldon salt

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a 10- to 12-inch cast-iron pan over high heat. While the pan is heating, season the steak liberally with salt--like you'd salt a sidewalk in New York in the winter--and then with pepper.

When the pan is good and hot--the steak should sizzle aggressively when it touches the pan--brown the steak. Put the steak in the pan and don't touch it or press it. After 2 minutes, take a peek: the steak should release easily from the pan and the seared side should be on the golden side of browned. Flip it. Sear the second side for another 2 minutes, following the same program. Sear the steak up with the side fatty side opposite the bone against the pan for 30 seconds, then turn the steak back over so the side that was seared first is against the pan. Put the steak in the oven and leave it untouched for 8 minutes.

Return the pan to the stovetop over low heat. Add the butter, thyme, garlic, and shallots to the pan. As soon as the butter melts, start basting: Use one hand to tilt the pan up at a 45-degree angle and, with the other hand, use a very large spoon to scoop up butter from the pool in the pan and spoon it over the steak. Repeat this motion constantly, cloaking the steak in an eddy of aromatic melted butter. After about 2 minutes of basting, give your pan-holding hand a break and give the steak a poke--it should be squishy soft, or somewhere close to that. If it's there, and if you like your steak rare, pull the steak from the pan and put it on a plate to rest. If you like your steak medium-rare (my personal preference), baste it for another minute or two. Do not cook this steak beyond medium-rare. It'll ruin it. And save the pan juice for the table! It's delicious.

Let the steak rest for at least 10 minutes. Do not slice into it before then. After 10 minutes, cut the steak off the bone, then slice it against the grain (cutting in the direction that was perpendicular to the bone) into 1/2-inch-thick slabs. Put on plates and pour any juices from where it rested and the cutting board into the pan drippings. Scatter the steak with Maldon salt and serve with your choice of vegetables (Chang suggests potatoes) and drippings on the side.


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