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how do you get your rib-eye so tender?

In the quest to cook the perfect rib-eye, I'm curious to hear you tips for getting the most tender steak. I do pretty well but sometimes I have mixed results. I suspect that quality and age of the meat accounts for the variations. But if you have any tips to share, please do.

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  1. Mine is simple, first of course buy the best quality rib-eye you can. What I do to it is minimal, so you can taste the meat, but does enhance it IMHO. I sprinkle just a little Adolph's meat tenderizer on both sides, then sprinkle a little McCormick Montreal steak seasoning on each side, rub/press mixture into the meat. Let the steak rest at room temp for about 15 min. During this time your grill (assuming outdoors) can get nice & hot. Grill should be heated at med/high for 15 min at least with lid closed. Sear outside of steak, both sides for about 1 min, then flip & cover, flip & cover until done to your liking. Indoors I use a cast iron grill pan & do not cover usually.

    Always comes out better than most we get at restaurants!!

    4 Replies
    1. re: kparke30

      Yeah, I have a similar cooking method. I use straight-forward prep and cooking times for rib-eye (adjusted for thickness). Always rest at room temp before cooking and rest after. I think the key is the quality of the original meat. I was curious about tips because last night I cooked a Niman Ranch rib-eye that had a little age on it. Flavor was good but texture was surprisingly tight. Any ideas on how to "read" a piece of meat when raw to tell how it'll cook up?

      1. re: sgwood415

        Was the Niman Ranch ribeye dry aged? The texture is going to be tougher than a non-aged or a wet aged steak but the flavor will be much better. I think wet-aged meat tends to be mushy but soft and moist while a dry aged steak has a much different texture, much firmer but I wouldn't say definitely chewy.

        1. re: ESNY

          Yes it was dry aged, that might explain some of it.

      2. re: kparke30

        Oh, that Montreak steak seasoning is just the best! It's actually all I put on our ribeyes.

        I don't think I've ever made a tough ribeye, so your source of meat is important. Rib eye should be pretty well marbled without huge lines of fat running through, so you can tell that it'll cook up juicy and tender. Just don't over cook it...and take it off the heat and let it rest for 5-7 minutes and then dig in.

        http://threedogkitchen.com

      3. The ribeye cut has a fair amount of fat in it - it's my favorite steak by far. This obviously helps in the flavor department but also helps retain its moisture as long as you don't heat it excessively too quickly and for too long. Animal protein in general will become tough if it is "shocked" with a high amount of heat for the duration of its cooking time. I think this has to do with the protein fibers shrinking in response to the sudden change in temperature, thereby releasing the fats and water (which expands as well, causing it to ooze out) that naturally occurs in between the protein fibers.

        Grilling to sear the meat and to get those great looking grill marks is fine. You just don't want to leave the steak over the same heat that you seared it with - it's too high. If you're bbqing, move the steaks to a prearranged area of the grill where there are no coals to allow for indirect heating - this is where the bbq cover comes in - it will keep in and recirculate the heat. The lower the heat, the better. As long as the heat is low enough, the proteins will be stable as will the water and fat, thereby coaxing these elements to cook together instead of responding violently against each other.

        The length of time is dependent on how you like your steak and of course the type of grill/bbq you're using (charcoal vs. gas, big vs. small, etc.) I have gone to using two Weber 22 1/2 inch kettle grills for alot of my outdoor grilling. One for higher heat, and one for lower indirect heat. After searing the steaks on the high-heat grill, I move them to the indirect-heat grill for about 15-20 minutes (for medium-rare to medium). This works great as when we are grilling, it's usually for at least six to eight people and keeps the food coming in a larger volume and of course offers two distinct heating methods and temperatures.

        As already mentioned, the quality of the meat should be considered as well. To me, the most important factors are the general appearance of the meat and of course any marbling. Bone-in or boneless is a secondary issue but the cut ends of the bones tells of freshness as does the tissue connected to the bone as well. Whether you have the preference for, availability of, or money to get dry-aged meat is another issue. They do taste great but they come at a premium. I believe the Wall Street Journal recently did an article on dry-aging your own steaks - someone mentioned it on this site.

        I used to keep seasoning my steaks very simple - a good sea salt or kosher salt and black pepper rubbed into both sides. However, I ran across a great rub recipe in Taunton Press's, "Fine Cooking" a number of years ago. Chile powder, freshly ground cinnamon, dried oregano, freshly roasted and ground cumin, black pepper, salt, and a little brown sugar. I tried it once on some ribeyes and never looked back.

        7 Replies
        1. re: bulavinaka

          You have the right idea but for the wrong reasons. There is no "shocking." Meat doesn't care about sudden changes in temperature. Muscle fiber shrinkage is directly proportional to temperature. The goal is to bring the whole meat to your desired temperature without overcooking the outside. After an initial sear for browning, this is best done over very low heat.

          Less importantly, water expanding is not what causes leakage. Water is incompressible. Leakage is a result of the shrinking of actual muscle cells, which, in turn, forces out the cell fluid.

          Anyway, you obviously have the right method but I thought you might be interested in that info.

          1. re: jeremyn

            Thanks for your info. Just semantics maybe, but I think you might have misinterpreted some of my text.

            >>Less importantly, water expanding is not what causes leakage. Water is incompressible. Leakage is a result of the shrinking of actual muscle cells, which, in turn, forces out the cell fluid.<< Your text.

            >>I think this has to do with the protein fibers shrinking in response to the sudden change in temperature, thereby releasing the fats and water (which expands as well, causing it to ooze out) that naturally occurs in between the protein fibers.<< My text.

            Water IS incompressible, yes, but it is prone to instability based on temperature: solid, liquid, gas - I'm certain you are aware of this. Combining muscle tissue contraction with water molecules becoming volatile (oxygen molecules excited from heat), and given the nature of water molecules being incompressible, they must go somewhere for relief - where it will "fit" so to say, which is out. I think this is fair to assume, or... thanks...

            1. re: bulavinaka

              Which is why when you dry brine it, you lose some moisture initially, but the salt causes the protein molecules to denature and uncoil, thereby allowing more moisture into the meat cells before cooking. Makes for a very juicy end product. Works like a charm for me every time.

              1. re: Phurstluv

                What is this "dry brine" of which you speak?

                1. re: agedcheddar

                  Oh, little grasshoppah!! You have much to learn..... LOL!

                  Basically, I use a seasoning mix like Montreal Steak seasoning, cuz I can buy it by the large bottleful at Costco and I go through it in about 6 months, but you can use plain ol' kosher salt.

                  You basically liberally sprinkle on about as much of it as you think you can take, and then a little more. I can only give quantities for a whole bird, like 1/4 cup, but it's different for a steak or two, so I don't measure. But I don't mean like, coat it until you can't see the meat, like when some bake things in a salt crust. And it's very subjective, since everyone has specific opinions on how much is too much. And I have seen instructional vids (sorry no linky) that coat a piece of meat, then rinse it off, but I don't do that.

                  So, start with whatever YOU consider a LIBERAL dose of kosher salt on both sides of a steak. Place it over a rack on a cookie sheet in the coldest part of your fridge for a couple of days, if it's a large roast you can go much longer. Make sure your fridge can maintain a cold temp ....

                  (i actually have two full size fridges, since the one that came with the house would freeze my eggs and produce, we replaced it, and it is now residing in our garage as the "beer/meat" fridge, but it can be hard to take that space up when it is your only fridge, some people actually dedicate a crisper drawer to do the job)....

                  and that cold air circulates around the meat. That is key to drying it out which GUARANTEES a beautiful sear. Now, the science is that the salt gets absorbed into the protein molecules, and while it initially gives off some moisture, the rest is retained, since now the protein molecules have uncoiled and can absorb the rest of the moisture. Results are a juicier piece of meat. The longer you leave it in, the funkier it gets, to quote my friend below, AB, and that is the enzymes starting to break down the muscle fibers and results into incredibly tender meat that is seasoned throughout, barely need to season it for the grill, tho I do like the sound of how one of the other posters slathers it in garlic. Hey, I grew up on Italian food, so I LOVE garlic on anything.

                  Now your only job is not to overcook it. That's it, friend, you just had your lesson. Go forth and grill steak.

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    Sire, you have spoken meat wisdom. I am humbled by your expertise and have religiously heeded your call to try and achieve meat excellence. Master boasted to table on the superiority of the dish and as a reward he gave me the bone!

              2. re: bulavinaka

                Sounds like we're saying the same thing.

          2. Ther are several thngs that can be done to maximize the flavor and tenderness of a ribeye, but if you don't get a good steak to start with, there's not much you can do to make it good.first, get one that is graded choice at a minimum. (prime is better, but you will have to go to a good butcher for that or mail order it from somewhere like Lobell's or Allen Bros.) get a steak that is at least 1" thick. I like to have mine cut 1 1/2 or even 1 3/4 " thick. I season with s smashed clove of garlic, some powdered mustard an salt(kosher or sea) and fresh ground black pepper Let the steaks sit at room temp for about 1/2 hour while you get the fire ready. next make sure you can get a hot fire on your grill. how you do the cooking depends on what type of grill you are using. the key to a good steak, IMO, is getting a high temp sear on the outside to carmelize the meat which concentrates the flavor. If you have a weber typr or green egg, I would suggest building a pretty good size fire on 1 side of the grill and, if you dont have a grill thermometer, try to hold your hand about 3" above the grill surface. It should be hot enough to force you to draw back after no more than 1 1/2 - 2 seconds and the fire is ready. sear for about 1-2 minutes per side then move the steaks to the side off the fire, cover and cook at about 350 for another 6-8 minutes for slightly more than rare. obviously, all these aspects are dependent on variables including the thicckness of the steak, the temperature of the grill, both on and off the fire, how fatt the meat is, etc. If you follow these suggestions and buy good meat, they should be tender and tasty.

            1. A rib eye comes from a rib roast. A good cut of meat is always tender, but I also ask for mine from the small end, as they are not as fatty. I sear mine on the stove first and then fiish them in the oven using a compound butter. Always good and tender!

              1. 1. Buy good meat. Supermarkets in general won't have as good of meat as butcher shops. Costco, if you're lucky enough to have one around, has good beef.

                2. Make it thick. Anything less than an inch or an inch and a half is more difficult to cook right. Buy a standing rib when they're on sale (Christmas time for example) and cut your own rib steaks. Sometimes you can save 50% by doing this.

                3. Don't overcook. The absolute finest cut of meat will taste like low grade dog food if you over cook it. If you can't judge doneness by the touch method, get an instant read thermometer. Pull the steak of the coals when it's just past rare in the center and let it rest. It will come up to medium-rare as it rests and you won't loose juices
                when you slice it.

                4. Don't overcook it. I said it twice because it's the most important part of the equation.

                2 Replies
                1. re: bkhuna

                  I have to say, I have bought some great ribeye steaks at Costco. If you do have one near you, it is worth the fee to join just for the meat. They usually package about 3-4 steaks per package, and I think they are usually about $8.99-9.99 per pound.
                  No, it's not the Palm or Peter Luger. But they are great ribeyes, especially cooked out on the grill.

                  1. re: mschow

                    I've purchased the whole beef tenderloins there too (on the recommendation of Cook's Illustrated). Way better value, although you have to trim them yourself so you're paying for a little waste. Still a better value than most butchers.