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Help Me Make Perfect Ribeyes on a Cast Iron Grill

+ + Hi Hounds + +

I'm going to be preparing dinner in just a couple of hours, and tonight the menu consists of a pair of lovely ribeye steaks -- something new to my culinary repetoire. Not being the most red-blooded red meat eater, my experience with various preparations of meats is largely confined to poultry and fish, with an occasional foray into pork. Steaks are something I do only on very rare occasions. Tonight is one such rare occasion.

Mindful of the fact that ribeyes can be among the most flavorful and satisfying of steaks, I'm slightly worried that my lack of experience with them could translate into a missed opportunity (or worse yet, a burnt disaster). Fortunately for me, there's YOU. The beloved Chowhound community.. here to offer the advice, insights, and experienced know-how that I lack. I bow humbly before you and request your assistance.

Here's what you need to know:

I have in my possession 2 half inch thick ribeyes sitting in the fridge. I have a new double-sided Lodge griddle/grill (cast iron, of course) that I'd like to break in with the steaks.. and I have spices and oils aplenty.

What I'm looking to do: cook them with minimal fuss -- prefer a simple seasoning of salt and pepper to time consuming marinades (tonight at least.. want to eat before too long) -- and without over cooking. One will need to be medium rare, the other (my girlfriend's, that is) cooked all the way through -- no pink (sad, I know).

What I'm unsure of:

1. Should I bring the steaks to room temperature before throwing them on the grill?
2. Should I brush the steaks with vegetable of olive oil before grilling -- or should they be dry?
3. Should I season steaks before throwing on the grill or after?
4. Where should I set the flame? Medium? Medium high? High?
5. How many minutes per side for medium rare (roughly)... and how many for "cooked all the way through" without turning it into tough shoe-leather?
6. Finally, if you were going to season them with more than salt & pepper, what would you use? A rub of garlic on 'em? A dash of.. cumin? No idea.

Basic things all, I know.. but as I said, I've never made them before, and I'd like some pointers before cook, so I don't just wing it and ruin my ruby beauts.

As always, thanks for any and all help -- very much appreciated.

I'll post post-feasting to report on the results.


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  1. Hmm, 1/2 inch thick eh? That's pretty thin.

    As to your questions, here's my 2 cents:

    1. Room temp.
    2. No oil.
    3. Season before (I prefer just kosher salt and ground black pepper)
    4. High
    5. Medium rare for 1/2 inch steaks would be about 1 minute per side, and let it rest for 5 minutes off-griddle. Well done about 3 or 4 minutes per side.
    6. No idea, I just go with salt and pepper.

    Good luck.

    1. -Half inch thick isn't very thick. I'd let them sit at room temp for about a half hour.

      -You should brush the grill with oil just before applying the steaks and you can season them with salt and pepper when you take them out of the fridge.

      -Make sure the grill is very hot(smoking) when you put the steaks on

      -As I said before, a half inch isn't very thick, so about 3 minutes a side, or less, for medium rare. And you;ll want them to rest a couple of minutes after cooking

      -If they're good quality steaks keep the seasoning simple so you can enjoy the full steak flavor. Just salt and pepper and perhaps a little rub with a fresh, crushed garlic clove.

      1. Edited, as I read the op as 2 inch thick!

        First question? Have you seasoned your cooking pan??

        If you have then:

        1. Should I bring the steaks to room temperature before throwing them on the grill?

        Yes. Absolutely.

        2. Should I brush the steaks with vegetable of olive oil before grilling -- or should they be dry?

        no. if your pan is seasoned, then just a teeny wipe of oil in the pain is all that's required

        3. Should I season steaks before throwing on the grill or after?

        My rule-of-thumb here is not to season, but that's just me

        4. Where should I set the flame? Medium? Medium high? High?

        HIGH!!! You want that sucker SMOKIN"!

        5. How many minutes per side for medium rare (roughly)... and how many for "cooked all the way through" without turning it into tough shoe-leather?

        This pretty much depends on all the other factors combined. For med rare I usually go 3 mins per side. I am of the only-turn-them-once school of thought. I have no idea on cooked through, cos I never do it. MAybe 4-5 mins? I think you can tell by touch rather than time, Med rare steak should have a bit of bounce.. a bit of give, when you poke it.

        Alternately, you could cook your g/f's first and put it in a mod oven while you do yours. That would firm it up a bit.

        6. Finally, if you were going to season them with more than salt & pepper, what would you use? A rub of garlic on 'em? A dash of.. cumin? No idea.

        The other important thing to do is let your steaks rest after you cook them. Whack them on a plate and leave them alone for at least 10 minutes. While they're resting, I'd deglaze the pan with some wine, a knob of butter and a grind or two of pepper.

        1. I'm no pro at cast iron, but I would season your grill before you use it the first time. Google will steer you to a number of articles on seasoning cast iron.

          As to your questions:

          1. Room Temp
          2. Dry with paper towels, no oil.
          3. Season with salt and pepper only two minutes before.
          4. High - let the pan get really hot.
          5. For 1/2 inch, maybe 3 min. per side. Touch your thumb to your middle finger - the fleshy part of your palm below your thumb feels like medium rare.
          6. Don't use cumin or garlic...

          1. That's thin for rib-eye, but then, it's your steaks.
            Room temp for the meat (about 1/2 hour).
            I have a Calphalon griddle (yeh for tax returns!!), and I get it hot, then brush a bit of oil on it (hot meaning when a bit of water "dances" on it).
            Fresh ground Black Pepper and ground sea salt are what we prefer.

            We likes ours medium, but we get them an inch thick. Yours won't take long to cook being a half-inch in thickness. Probably about a minute to 90 seconds on each side, then let them rest for a few minutes on a foil covered plate.

            1. agree with the others... half-in. is fairly thin, will cook quick. Kosher Salt and pepper, liberally, to start, then a little veg oil (not olive) on the grill, then maybe 1.5 min a side for MR, maybe 2.5 a side for MW? When it hits the grill, don't fuss with it... let it sit and get the char and that way it shouldn't stick when you do lift. how about saute a sliced onion and some garlic for a side/topping? btw, when you flip the steaks, it wouldn't kill you to place a small pat of butter atop each one, to melt over it, as the second side cooks........

              1. Probably ditto

                1. Room temp or close to is a must
                2. I brush the grill not the steaks I season the steaks
                3. Before
                4. Medium High to high I like mine very hot so I get a nice crust.
                5. Not everyone will agree, but I use a dash of brown sugar just rubbed in with the salt and pepper. Not much, but it makes a great brown crust, some people will disagree.
                6. They are thin so 1-2 minutes per side is all for medium rare on my stove.

                Don't move when you put it on. let it rest and get a good crust, then flip. After cooking like all meat, cover with foil and make sure you let rest before serving. I like to serve with a mix of some fresh gorgonzola and sour cream or just as is.

                I you have some nice mushrooms grill them add some butter and some wine and let cook just a few minutes and serve over the steak. Great side.

                1. I knew I could count on you!

                  Helpful suggestions all -- thank you to everyone who responded.

                  A few notes: half inch is on the thinner side, it's true.. but that's what the meager grocery budget would allow for.

                  As for the double sided griddle -- and for anyone who's checking back to this thread -- would you use the flat griddle side, or the ridged grill side? (see attached photo)

                  I was thinking of using the ridged grill side... but perhaps the flat side has its advantages?

                  As for using aluminum foil for the rest period.. am I supposed to encase the steak in the foil, or just plop it atop some foil on a plate?

                  Thanks again!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: sanangel

                    Ridged, especially for the more well-done one, since less contact with the pan will make the surface less leathery. I never use foil to rest the steaks -- I'm not sure why it's necessary. You definitely don't want to encase the steaks or they'll steam!

                    1. re: sanangel

                      Use the gridded side. For one thing, the big secret of a grill pan is that you can get away with just brushing the ridge-tops with fat when the pan is really hot, and if the valleys get cruddy you can wash this side (but this side ONLY) with a brush and soapy water. In fact, if you don't, you'll wind up with one like my strictly NO-SOAP-ON-IRON!! father-in-law, whose grill pan's ridges have not been discernible since 1973... The other thing is you'll get just enough lovely meaty crustiness with no danger of steaming the meat, since the valleys provide escape for moisture, not to mention excess fat. I don't have the two-sided griddle, just the big round grill pan, but I love it for steaks, chops and even fish.

                      1. re: sanangel

                        I'd use the ridged side.. but that's just me.

                        Have you seasoned your pan?? Because that, IMHO, is the single most important thing to cooking with cast iron.

                        Especially if this is its first use.

                        1. re: purple goddess

                          It came pre-seasoned... erm, is that not enough? According to the box it came in, it's ready to rumble.

                          1. re: sanangel

                            Hmm.. pre-seasoned. Maybe that's an American thing. Never heard of it here. So maybe other US'ers would be best to answer that.

                            Seasoning is no biggie, just wipe the pan with a touch of OO on a paper towel , whack over the gas ring on high and leave until the oil smokes off. Allow to cool and then re-wipe with OO.

                            I've had my cast iron since 1985 and I've only had to reseason twice. But my pan never sees soap and I wipe over with OO after every clean.

                      2. So I made my ribeyes and found them to be everything I'd hoped for -- save one detail: they lacked that "meaty crust" that a good sear is supposed to impart. They had lovely grill marks, mind you, but they didn't develop the kind of crust I was expecting. Perhaps I didn't have the grill quite hot enough? Thought I did.. the thing was smoking, and yes, a drop of water danced about when dropped on the grill. Perhaps they weren't dry enough? Patted them dry with paper towels.. but could have dried them a bit more, I suppose. Perhaps I seasoned them a bit too early.. doesn't salt draw out moisture?

                        Anyway, that aside, the steaks were tender and bursting with juicy flavor. Had to throw my gf's back on the grill for a couple of additional minutes, as she really prefers her "well done," but mine was perfectly medium rare. Mmmm-Mmmm!

                        As for my thoughts on my new Lodge Logic double sided griddle/grill combo, I thought it did a bang up job.. but HOOO MAMA! The SMOKE! I had to open every window in the apartment and turn on a fan in the kitchen to direct the smoke out of the window.. (also had the overhead vent going, of course). Don't know how often I'll make steaks this way (I don't eat them often to begin with, so it shouldn't be a problem), but perhaps it's a better piece of equipment for the summer months, when I can open all the windows without fear of turning my apt into an ice box. Really, the smoke was quite extraordinary.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: sanangel

                          Congrats. How long on each side for the MR? I think you would get a better crust both with a thicker steak (longer on the grill) and in particular if you went to the charcoal direct flame outside.

                          1. re: woodburner

                            That is always true, hard with a thin steak. I use flat with a thin steak at times just to get that crust. Charcoal or gas is different and thick is much different. My steaks are usually 1" thick, but now and then I do get good deals on thin ones so why not. Still great flavor.

                          2. re: sanangel

                            It's really hard to get a nice crust on a grill/griddle. Just doesn't get hot enough.

                            One way to help develop a crust is to really, really pat the steak dry before cooking, but even then it'll be a difficult job.

                            Glad they worked out for you.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Mine is a single cast iron and gets more than hot enough. I get a gorgeous crust everytime, however I do prefer a thicker steak and the grill if at all possible.

                            2. re: sanangel

                              You've received many excellent comments. My two cents:
                              Yes, to get the best meaty crust, you will create hellish amounts of smoke. (Been there, done that!) Restaurant (and tv cooking show) kitchens have extremely powerful vents to get rid of the smoke. Hence, my favorite way to mimic a steak-house steak is to use a cast iron pan (not a grill-pan, but one with a flat surface), and use it in my outdoor Weber grill, preheated on high for at least 15 minutes.
                              Ribeyes have plenty of fat, so I don't see the need to oil the steak. I would salt it liberally, and let it come to room temperature. The salt will help create that crust you're looking for. And for a truly cardiac-episode-inducing topping, a thin slice of foie gras on the top as the steak rests.

                              1. re: sanangel

                                I'd try it on the flat (griddle rather than grill) side next time so there's more surface contact. Also, make sure it is HOT before laying the steaks on. Let the pan heat at least 5 minutes over the highest heat before putting the steaks on. Don't worry about the pan, it's cast iron, you can't hurt it. Also, as others have said, a thicker steak will help since it can spend more time on the heat.

                                1. re: sanangel

                                  I'm not sure why you got so much smoke. Maybe you overdid it with the oil? You really only need a light brushing in the area where the steak is going to cook immediately before putting them in the pan.

                                  Also, there's no need to pat the steaks dry. You're losing flavor that way. The proteins that the salt draws to the surface help produce the flavorful char and crust.

                                  Again, since your steaks were rather thin, the cooking time on each side probably wasn't enough to produce the desireable char.

                                  Next time try thicker steaks, at least one inch thick, and follw some of the tips in this thread.

                                2. A flat surface you will get more that crust, a grid you won't get as much as a crust, but both flavors would be great.

                                  Glad they turned out.

                                  A nice topping ... most groceries stores carry them right in the butter section. Herbed butter. Real butter with 4 or 5 herbs. I cut a nice slab and put it on each steak. Great finish.

                                  I make my own when I have fresh herbs which is usually, but I just replanted and haven't been to the market in a week so I'm out, so I keep a stick of this on hand for emergencies.

                                  1. Good morning! So glad yours turned out so well.

                                    If you want to try again, I just saw that the Bitten Word just covered 'ribeyes at home' in their latest posting. Should be right there on the homepage when you go to: http://thebittenword.typepad.com/theb...

                                    And Oh! My! They do look scrumptious!