The rib-eye and I


I remember learning in the fourth grade that humans have three fundamental needs: food, shelter, and clothing.

So why is my house, my personal shelter, fighting my efforts to feed myself?

What follows is a recipe for delicious, fool-proof, rib-eye steak . . . and the tale of my continuing battle to prepare it.

I would call this an extreme recipe. We’re talking five-hundred-degree temperatures, cast-iron pans, and a stopwatch.

Remember, I’m a guy who confronted the kitchen only recently. My hands trembled the first time I used a blender. To me it was a power tool, like the buzz saws I was introduced to in wood shop when I was still too short to use a urinal.

I found a video of the recipe online, created by Alton Brown, a Food Network celebrity. A prior Alton video had taught me to make a perfect omelet, so I was motivated to take his approach to rib-eye.

As you probably know, rib-eye is the premier beef cut, richly marbled and tender on the tongue.

The first time I attempted this meal according to Alton’s direction, I prepared as if I were performing surgery. I laid out the cast-iron pan, tongs, my iPhone set to stopwatch, two oven mitts and extra towels. I washed my hands. 

I set the oven to five hundred degrees—the far reaches of the galaxy—and put in the pan to get hot. Re-heating leftover pizza at 425 was as far as I had ever gone. I wasn’t confident that my oven wouldn’t explode.

Next, I take the hot pan from the oven, heat it on the stovetop at highest possible heat for five minutes more, and produce what could pass for a branding iron.

At which point I drop the raw slab of steak onto the almost molten pan.

During the 30 seconds that the meat is being seared on the stovetop, smoke rises like incense before a pagan deity.

And it sets off the smoke alarm high on the ceiling of my vaulted Great Room. Every time.

The noise is ear-splitting, to coin a cliché. It is so loud and so invasive that when I tried this recipe for the first time, my doting next-door neighbor called to make sure I was okay. Since then, I alert her beforehand that I will be making a rib eye.

Also, as you will see in the recipe that follows, the steps happen fast, on a tight timeline.

I have served this meal to dinner guests several times. Before I prepare it, I re-fill their glasses and warn them about the cacophony that’s about to come.

No one’s yet complained about the chaos, because all the wrestling with cast-iron pans, stopwatches, and smoke alarms is worth it.

That’s why I’m writing this post.

I invite you to try this recipe. It seems to work despite the thickness of the cut, whether it’s organic, grass-fed, or supermarket brand. It lands on your plate medium-rare, perfectly salted and peppered . . . every time.

Just cover your ears.


Pan-Seared Rib-Eye Steak


1 boneless rib-eye steak, 1 1/2 inches thick

Olive oil to thinly coat both sides

Coarse salt and ground black pepper


Bring the steak to room temperature.

Coat the steak lightly with oil and sprinkle both sides with a generous pinch of salt. Grind on black pepper.

Place a 10-to-12-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven and heat the oven to 500 degrees.

When the oven reaches temperature, remove the skillet and place on the stovetop over high heat for 5 minutes.

Immediately place the steak in the middle of the hot, dry skillet. Cook 30 seconds without moving (the steak, not you).

Turn with tongs. Cook another 30 seconds.

Put the pan into the oven for 2 minutes.

Flip the steak and cook for another 2 minutes (for medium-rare).

Remove the steak from the skillet, cover loosely with foil and rest (both you and the steak) for 2 minutes.

If you enjoyed reading this, you will like my newest book, Saints and Poets, Maybe: One Hundred Wanderings, available at Amazon.

Showing 2 reactions

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  • Eileen Hoefler
    followed this page 2018-03-18 00:33:56 -0400
  • William J McKay
    commented 2018-03-17 08:39:36 -0400
    This is a great early day read, Peter. We had Cooke’s Seafood last night; Moe had her fist fried clams of the new year; my oysters from Popponesset Bay were getting old, I guess. Anyway, as I picked up the take-out and walked by piles of snow in the lot, I was laughing: people should NOT be eating seafood and looking outside at snowbanks???

    Anyway, within 10 hours, you follow up with HUMOR in your blog; this is a good time of year to start laughing about “things.” Your only lesson today is “making yourself and your friends gastronomically happy.” No memorable words from philosophers today. I don’t know now how David Hume cooked his wayward Scottish bovine; No words from Rene D. (I eat beef, therefore I am."; or less known George Berkely, who believed that nothing is real, just our senses playing tricks on us. Do you think your temperatures and the ultimate dinner were NOT real?
    Ahhhh…. Moe has risen, I must see her immediately and make a plea / suggestion for dinner?
    Thank you and have a great day!!!!!