Let me just start off by saying that this steak was probably the most amazing piece of meat that I have ever made, let alone devoured. For B's birthday, I decided to surprise him first with a mini beer tasting (thank you Whole Foods Beer Room), followed by a couple of steaks at home. Originally, I had planned to take him to BLT Steak or perhaps even Charlie Palmer Steak in DC. However, I thought it would be a nice change of pace to celebrate in the comfort of our own home. It would allow us more time to enjoy the beer and create less of a dent in my wallet. Plus, I had been wanting to try the pan-roasted dry-aged rib eye recipe from my Momofuku cookbook. Along the way of planning, I also acquired another recipe from Tyler Florence via my foodie friend R. I decided that it would be fun to try both recipes out during the same night. In this entry, however, I will only write about the Momofuku way.
First, I went to Fairway and Citarella to purchase my ingredients. Instead of buying a 2-2.5 pound rib-eye as directed, I opted for a smaller and less expensive cut of prime rib. After all, it was my first attempt at making this dish. I didn't want to risk burning $40 or $50 until I at least kind of knew what I was doing.
Before B showed up at the apartment, I set up six mini beer sampler glasses from Crate & Barrel ($2.95 ea) in the living room. I stored three ales (two IPA's and one traditional ale) in the freezer and thought about how much he'd appreciate these unique craft beers. Then he came home with a 6 pack of Bud Light... It didn't take us long to get into the tasting though. During the middle of it, I surprised him again with two coffee table books about beer by Michael Jackson: "Ultimate Beer" and "The New World Guide to Beer."
After relaxing for a bit, we moved the rest of the alcohol into the kitchen and began to prep the steaks. David Chang's method was simple and straightforward. I enjoyed reading his instructions aloud while I sipped on a sweet IPA from San Diego. B went online to see how to prep shallots, which was followed by a small quibble over whether or not my Brittany shallots were really shallots (they are!). All was going well until I removed the pan out of the oven and grabbed the searing hot handle without a mit. I quickly released my grip, but it wasn't fast enough to avoid burning the inside edge of my pinky. Amazingly, the rest of my hand survived without harm.
The basting of the butter, thyme, garlic and shallots was when the magic happened. The combination of these ingredients generated a deliriously good smell. We drenched the steak everywhere possible with the butter, although never turned sides (recipe did not say to). At the end of the ritual, all B could say was, "Basting, where have you been all my life?" My new rule in cooking: basting brings good things. When in doubt, baste and baste often.
Before I even had the chance to set up the plate and lighting to get a good shot, we had already begun devouring it. Every bite was absolutely amazing and bursting with flavor. It was a tad salty (I ran with Chang's direction to "liberally" season it), but otherwise undeniably delicious. The meat was cooked to a perfect medium rare. David Chang somehow made magic with six easy cooking steps.
Next time, which I hope is very soon, I will grow some balls and buy that $40-50 piece of dry-aged rib eye and make it even better.
Pan-roasted Dry-aged Rib Eye
Recipe from Momofuku by David Chang and Peeter Meehan.
2 to 2.5 pound bone-in rib-eye steak, very preferably dry-aged
(I used a 1 pound prime rib with a smidge of bone, same timing in directions still applied)
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp unsalted butter
Few sprigs of thyme
3 garlic cloves (I used 1.5 tsp of chopped garlic)
1 medium or 2 small shallots (I used one big Brittany shallot)
Maldon salt (didn't use this since my steak was over-seasoned with salt!)
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Prep the garlic and shallots. I had everything chopped, but the photo that is in the cookbook shows them halved or quartered. I know my method tasted great but didn't look as "clean."
2. Heat a medium to large (10-12 inch) cast-iron pan over high heat. If you don't have a cast-iron pan (like me), another oven-safe pan should work. I used my Calphalon Contemporary Omelet Pan and nothing melted or tasted funny. While the pan is heating, season both sides of the steak liberally with Kosher salt. I would say more like how you'd sprinkle a bed with rose petals, rather than how you'd salt a sidewalk in New York in the winter. Then season with pepper.
3. When the pan is ready (really, really hot), place one side of the steak down and do NOT touch it. The steak should sizzle aggressively. After 2 minutes, flip the steak onto its other side. I found my new hand-me-down OXO tongs to be very helpful in this maneuver (thanks R!) The seared side should be on the golden side of browned. Sear the other side for another 2 minutes. Then, stand the steak up on its fatty edge (opposite the bone) and sear that for 30 seconds. Afterwards, turn it back down on the first side that was seared.
4. Place the steak in the oven and leave it alone for 8 minutes.
5. Protect your hands (so you don't get burned like how I did) and remove the steak from the pan, then place it back on the stove over low heat. Add the butter, thyme, garlic and shallots to the pan. As soon as the butter melts, start basting! Use one hand to tilt the pan at a 45 degree angle so that the butter pools at the bottom. Then with the other hand, scoop the liquid butter up with a large spoon and bathe the steak. Baste constantly for 2 minutes. If your arm gets tired, deal with it (it'll be worth it, trust me). After 2 minutes or so, the steak will be rather rare. If you like it that way, stop now and move to step 6. If you like medium rare (which is your next and last option), keep basting for another minute or two. I basted for 3 minutes total. Move it to a plate and let it rest. Make sure to leave the remaining fat/butter in the pan and reheat it once the steak is ready to eat.
6. Let the steak rest for about 10 minutes. At this point, we really just wanted to sink our teeth into it and I'm sure you will too. But it's important to let the meat rest. Why? Resting allows the heat to transfer from the outer edges to the center, and prevents the juices from flowing out of the steak. If you cut the meat right after cooking, all the juice will run out and and you'll end up with a dryer piece of meat.
7. Lastly, slice the steak. I didn't follow the recipe instructions about how to cut the steak. I had no patience for it. But if you do, here's what you should do. Cut the steak off of the bones and slice against the grain (perpendicular to the bone) into half-inch thick sticks. Sprinkle on some Maldon slt and drizzle the remaining fat/butter over the pieces. Close your eyes, take a bite, and experience the magic.
P.S. If you are lusting after this dish, but don't want to cook and happen to be in Manhattan, you can always order it at Momofuku Ssam Bar. I love their steamed pork buns too.
Additional pix can be found here.