November 20, 2007


Ever since we got The Babbo Cookbook a few years ago, I have wanted to make one recipe in particular: a porcini-rubbed rib-eye. It’s the kind of recipe that makes your eyes open wider and wider as you realize how easy it is and how delicious it could be. And, yet, I had never made it.

When we invited some friends over for a dinner party last weekend, that rib-eye was the first thing that popped into my head. And, I have to say, it did not disappoint. It was, as a good friend of mine is fond of saying, phenomenal. [Perhaps even better was the roasted red pepper soup with Sambuca cream, but that’s a tale for another post.]

Now, of course, some credit has to go the actual piece of meat. It was not – gasp – local. [I would likely have a hard time getting such a piece of meat from a local provider, at least on short notice, and, admittedly, the grass-fed beef I’ve had has a different, stronger flavor than what most people are used to, so I’d hate to spring that on dinner guests, at least the first time I am having them over.] It was, on the contrary, a nearly five-pound beauty that I purchased at Whole Foods.

And that five pounds complicated the matter a bit, because the original recipe called for a 28-ounce rib-eye to be grilled or broiled (as dinner for two), whereas I had something approximately three times bigger (meant to serve 8), which I had no doubt would prove tricky on a grill. To make grilling a little easier, we cut the beef in half. Even so, I ended up having to reduce the heat after the first few turns of the meat and then keep rotating every 4 or 5 minutes after the original rotations to keep any one side from getting charred. I pulled the meat off when the internal temp hit about 125 degrees – which took about 30 minutes -- and let it sit for not quite 10 minutes before my wife did an excellent job of slicing it up into 8 individual servings.

For our five pounds of beef, we tripled the rub recipe – except for the garlic, which, in my view, just seemed like a LOT of garlic (sorry to doubt you, Molto, but I have to trust my limited culinary instincts).

The recipe called for topping the final, sliced product with drizzles of top quality balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil. I had seen, however, another pan-fried rib-eye recipe that topped the beef with a quick balsamic reduction. So I went that course instead. In the end, in the rush of finalizing the meal, I didn’t reduce the balsamic enough, so it wasn’t very syrupy, but it still added a nice bit of complexity to the final product.

The original recipe, with some slight modifications and notes, is below. Scale up, or down, as you see fit, and enjoy!

Porcini Dry Rubbed Rib-Eye

  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • Quarter to half-ounce of dry porcini mushrooms, ground to a powder (spice grinder is probably preferable method)
  • ¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 28-ounce rib-eye steak

Combine the sugar through the olive oil until it forms a paste. [NOTE: The original recipe says to combine until it forms “a thick, fairly dry paste,” which would explain why it’s called a “dry-rubbed” rib-eye. The paste I made, on the other hand, was actually quite wet. The end result was, again, excellent, but the wetness of my rub/marinade may have been part of the reason I had to tend to the meat so carefully on the grill. So you might want to start with a little less olive oil at first and then maybe add more as you see fit.] Coat the steak all over with the rub, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

Remove the steak from the packaging and scrape off the excess marinade with a paper towel. Preheat the grill and cook on the hottest part for 6 minutes per side (which, in this case, is four sides, not two). Cook to 120-125 for medium-rare, remove and let it sit for 10 minutes. REMEMBER, it will keep cooking after you take it off the grill, so if you like it medium rare, no more than 125 degrees max.

Slice against the grain and top with a quick drizzle of very good balsamic and extra-virgin olive oil, or, as I mentioned above, a balsamic reduction.

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