Dry-Aged Rib Eye au Poivre
Dry-aged meat is one of the best favors you could ever do for yourself. It can be a little hard to find, but a lot of specialty butchers now offer it for sale, frozen, online. Eat this before you die. Dry aging beef is costly business, because the beef has to be kept very cold and dry for days upon days. It also has to be done with the best cuts of meat, because the marbling (fat/meat ratio) has to be high. It tastes better than money. The process removes moisture from the meat, which amps up the beefy favor. Think about the amount of water in a cup of coffee versus an espresso, and you'll understand what I'm saying. Next, enzymes in the meat start to break down connective tissue, which is the stuff that makes meat tough. Good mold--whose existence may not be the best selling point--is what helps this process along and, like the kind in awesome cheese, gives the meat a whisper of delicious funk. Normally a steak au poivre dabbles in a funky/fresh balance, with fresh meat and a ton of aged (black) peppercorns. But here the dish cannonballs into funky freshness by swapping the attributes of the core ingredients, so the aged black-peppered beef seesaws with the green peppercorn, the fresh peppercorn, which works like a peppery Binaca blast to the rich, funk-whispered beef. Most poivre sauces call for cognac, but I freshen mine up more with vodka. If you are nervous about flambéing, just don't use the vodka at all and instead add another 2 ounces beef broth; otherwise, read the directions carefully and keep a fire extinguisher handy. This is the best á-la-minute dish in the book.
NotesThe Maillard Reaction
The Maillard reaction, or the browning of foods as they cook, is why I say "brown things taste like brown things." Think about it! Nuts, caramel, whiskey, oatmeal, coffee, and chocolate all sound pretty good together, and that's because of browning. When things roast or toast, sugars react, turn brown (caramelization), and create hundreds of desirable new favors.
Makes1 massive steak; enough for 2 servings
Preparation Time10 min
Preparation Time - Text10 minutes
Cooking Time10 min
Cooking Time - Text10
Total Timeunder 1 hour
Make Ahead RecipeYes
One Pot MealYes
OccasionCooking for a date, Formal Dinner Party
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and Texturemeaty, savory
- Fire extinguisher, just in case
- Cast-iron skillet
- Grill lighter or long match
- 1 1?4 pounds (20 ounces) dry-aged, bone-in, rib-eye steak
- Kosher salt
- Cracked black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 shallot, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons green peppercorns in brine, crushed
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1?2 cup beef broth
- 1?2 cup heavy cream
Cook the steak. Put a cast-iron skillet in the oven and preheat the oven to 500°F.
Liberally season the steak with salt and black pepper. When the oven is fully heated, carefully remove the HOT cast-iron pan from the oven and place it over high heat. Add the butter, let it melt, then quickly add the steak. Don't touch it for the first 3 minutes: you're making a super-"Maillardy"-crusty caramelized outside (see sidebar opposite). After 3 minutes, flip and sear the second side for 1 1?2 minutes. Then place the entire skillet in the oven for 4 minutes.
Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let it rest while you make the sauce, at least 7 minutes.
Make the sauce. In the same (unwashed) cast-iron skillet, now set over medium-high heat, add the shallot and green peppercorns and cook until the shallot is just beginning to color, about 2 minute about 2 minutes. Stand back and carefully pour in the vodka (all that vapor is flammable). Quickly position a grill lighter on the
edge of the pan, turn your face away, and ignite. Just look at what you' and ignite. Then gently swirl the pan and turn the heat to low, until the fames die out. Add the broth and cream and bring to a simmer, whisking, and cook the sauce until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon (a nappé consistency), about 5 minutes.
PLATE IT! On a nice, clean wooden cutting board, slice the rested steak off the bone in one whole piece, and set the bone aside. If it's too red for your liking, put it back in the oven for a few minutes. Slice the steak at angles, against the grain. Honestly, you can't mess this up too badly, because the steak will be so good and tender you'll be using all your restraint to not eat it with your fingers. Once sliced, reposition the slices against the bone, fanning them out a bit.
Pour the sauce over the meat and eat directly from the board. I rarely get this to a table to sit down and "enjoy it." Pour your wine in advance with your comrade in consumption at your side, and have no shame at eating it in the kitchen. If you are married or in love with a carnivore, this says, "I'm sorry," "I love you," and "I want to share the best things in life with you."
BREAK IT: Add some strong Dijon to the sauce to beat that meat even more into submission.
2015 Justin Warner