How To Cook a Rib-Eye Steak

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Playing Curtis Stone's Pan-Seared Rib-Eye Steaks
Curtis Stone's Pan-Seared Rib-Eye Steaks

Rib-eye steak (which comes from — you guessed it — the rib section, or mid-section, of the cow) is a full-flavored cut of beef with lots of marbling throughout, which keeps it juicy when cooked.

It's often reserved for special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries. (In fact, Curtis Stone made one for Rach's 50th birthday — watch in the video above!)

But while a dinner out at a steakhouse is notorious for breaking the bank, you can save about 20 percent by cooking your own at home. And all you need is a hot cast-iron skillet.

Let's start from the beginning, though — aka buying your rib-eye.

HOW TO PURCHASE YOUR RIB-EYE

Rib-eye steak is sold bone-in. 

"The bone-in ribeye is such a beautiful cut of meat," Curtis says. "You get a delicious amount of flavor from cooking beef on the bone like that."

If you're not sure how much meat you need, butcher Ray Venezia suggests 1/2 pound per person, plus 2 pounds to account for the bones (so you need at least 4 pounds for 4 people). 

Should I Buy Dry-Aged Steaks? 

Dry-aging beef "concentrates the meat flavor," says chef Sara Moulton. "Also, the natural enzymes in the meat break down the tissue, so it's that much more tender."

While you can buy your prime rib dry-aged, you’ll be paying a pretty penny — so consider dry-aging your beef at home with two easy steps instead. 

HOW TO COOK RIB-EYE STEAK

1) TAKE STEAK OUT OF FRIDGE 30 MINUTES BEFORE COOKING

Before you take your steak out of the fridge to cook, you should actually let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. This will help your steak reach an evenly distributed temperature from edge to center, and will allow for more even cooking when on the skillet. 

2) PREHEAT YOUR OVEN TO 350°F (IF YOU WILL BE FINISHING STEAKS IN OVEN - SKIP IF NOT)

3) PAT STEAKS DRY

Before placing the steaks on the skillet, pat the steak dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Removing extra moisture helps the steak brown better, which equals more flavor.

4) SEAR IN CAST-IRON SKILLET

Make sure you preheat the skillet over medium-high heat to get it hot. Add a bit of olive oil to prevent your steak from sticking to the skillet, then place your steak it to get cooking.

Cook on one side for about 5 minutes, until your steak is browned and caramelized on the bottom. Once you’ve achieved a good sear, turn the meat and sear on the other side for 2 minutes.

Cast-iron is perfect for cooking steak because it gets really hot (and stays that way) for a long period of time.

Pro tip: "Don't move the steak around too much, allowing it to get a golden sear," Curtis says. This will allow the meat’s sugars to develop, forming a perfect crust. 

5) ADD BUTTER FOR ADDITIONAL FLAVOR (OPTIONAL)

If you want to pump up the flavor even more (like Curtis does), add about 2 tablespoons of butter — along with smashed garlic and a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary — to the pan before the steak finishes cooking.

"The secret weapon — a little bit of butter!" Curtis says.

6) FINISH COOKING YOUR STEAKS ON THE STOVETOP OR IN THE OVEN

IF ON STOVETOP…

Lower the heat to medium. If you're using butter, as the butter melts, baste the butter, garlic and herb mixture over the top of the steak for extra flavor. 

IF IN THE OVEN…

You can also finish your steak by placing it in the oven. To do this, transfer the pan into a preheated 350°F oven to finish cooking and to keep it warm.

COOKING TIMES

Cooking time depends on the thickness of your meat and how you'd like it cooked. For instance, it'll take about 5 minutes to finish cooking a 1 ½-inch-thick steak to medium-rare on a stovetop and between 10 and 20 minutes if you’re finishing it in the oven. 

Depending on how rare or well-done you like your steak, here's the breakdown of what temperature your steak should reach. Remember, using a meat thermometer is the best way to tell when your steak has reached its desired temperature.

Rare: 120° - 130°
Medium-Rare: 130° - 140°
Medium: 140° - 150°
Medium-Well: 150° - 160°
Well-Done: 160° - 170°

7) LET YOUR STEAKS REST

Remove the steak to a plate and let it rest for 5 minutes. This is key for a super juicy steak. Allowing it to rest before slicing will let the juices redistribute throughout your entire piece of steak. 

SERVING TIP:
If serving a crowd, slice your steak across the grain into ½-inch-thick pieces. This makes it easier to share and can help it stretch further at a dinner party since it visually looks like more when serving — giving you more bang for your buck.

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