Somewhere between 2 million and 800,000 years ago, a human ancestor called Homo erects became the first animal to cook. This recipe pays homage to that first caveman barbecue--with steaks grilled directly on the embers. Of course, the "wow" factor is off the charts (and I've amazed more than a few people when I've demonstrated Caveman T-Bones at Barbecue University and on the Today show), but there's a lot more to this dish than mere showmanship. Roasting the steaks on the embers gives the meat a surface charring and smoke flavor you just can't duplicate on a conventional grill. To that add a sizzling sauce of pan-fried jalapeños, cilantro, and garlic, and you've got T-bones that roar off the plate with flavor--guaranteed to awaken the caveman in all of us.
- 4 T-Bone steaks (10 to 12 ounces each), cut about 1 inch thick
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 6 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced crosswise
- 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1. Grill the steaks: Build a charcoal fire and rake the coals into an even layer. When the coals glow orange, fan them with a newspaper or hair dryer to blow off any loose ash.
2. Generously, and I mean generously, season the steaks on both sides with salt and cracked pepper. Place the steaks directly on the embers about 2 inches apart. Grill until cooked to taste, 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare, turning with tongs.
3. Using tongs, lift the steaks out of the fire, shaking each to dislodge any embers. Using a basting brush, brush off any loose ash and arrange the steaks on a platter. Let the steaks rest loosely tented with aluminum foil, while you make the sauce.
4. Make the hellfire hot sauce: Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet directly on the embers, on the side burner of a gas grill, or on the stove. When the oil is screaming hot, add the jalapeños, garlic, and cilantro. Cook over high heat until the sauce is aromatic and the garlic is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Immediately pour the sauce over the steaks and serve at once.
Nutritional information is based on using 4, 10oz T-Bone steaks and 1/8 teaspoon of added salt per serving.