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Rib-Eye 101: How to Grill the Perfect Rib-Eye Steak

Posted by Mary M. on July 13, 2014

Rib-Eye 101: How to Grill the Perfect Rib-Eye Steak

Rib-eye steaks are a meaty cut taken from the rib primal, or more specifically from the front end of the longissimus dorsi of the steer. The closer to the head that the cut is made, the more of the spinalis muscle, or cap of meat that wraps around the fatter end of the meat, that will be in the steak.

Due to the highly marbled consistency of the rib-eye, they are loaded with flavor. (Fat = Beef flavor!) Hence why it is one of the richest and beefiest steak cuts you can get. The marbling also serves as a self-baster to keep the steak plump and juicy. And of course rib-eyes need the high heat of the grill to melt that fat and flavor into the muscle of the meat.

For you, Traeger Nation, we have experimented and finely tuned the art of grilling the rib-eye so that we could provide you with a home run recipe, chock-full of vital tips and tricks to getting that perfect rib-eye with the perfect flavor and perfect doneness.

RIB-EYE STEAKS 101

PREP TIME: 30 minutes to allow meat to come to room temperature
COOK TIME: 1 hour 7 minutes, including smoke time
RECOMMENDED PELLETS: Hickory, Oak or Mesquite
SERVES: 2

INGREDIENTS

2 fresh rib-eye steaks, 1-inch to 1 1/2-inch thick
Traeger Prime Rib Rub
Canola Oil

Herbed Butter
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, leaves only (or you could substitute thyme or oregano)

PREPARATION

1. Be choosy with your meat. When picking out your rib-eyes, get your meat directly from a trusted butcher (as opposed to getting a pre-packaged steak that's been there who-knows-how-long) to ensure optimal freshness. Choose a steak that is 1-inch to 1 1/2-inches thick, has a bright redness (no murky brown) and good marbling throughout. A thicker steak will allow you to achieve a good sear on the outside while keeping the middle a rosy medium-rare.

2. Before you toss it on the Traeger, let the steak come to room temperature - sitting for about 30 minutes or so on the counter. Meat straight out of the fridge is typically about 38 degrees F, when what you want for starting meats on the grill is about 50 to 55 degrees F.

Even better, season the steak with the Traeger Prime Rib Rub and then let it sit for 30 minutes on the counter. Season the steaks a bit more than you might regularly season a sauteed item as some of the steaks' seasoning will be lost during the smoke and grilling process.

3. When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established, about 4 to 5 minutes. Arrange the steaks directly on the grill grate and smoke for 1 hour.

BEFORE SMOKE

AFTER SMOKE

4. One of our favorite ways to enjoy steak, other than all by themselves, is with a creamy herbed butter. Finishing the steak with a lovely compound butter ups the richness of the steak and gives each bite a luscious and juicy creaminess. This butter can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until the steaks are done or you can prepare it while the steaks are smoking.

Put the olive oil and herbs into a food processor (or blender) and process until the herbs are finely chopped.

Whip the butter in a mixer until it lightens in color, a few minutes. Add in the oil and chopped herbs and beat for another 2 minutes, or until the oil and butter come together.

Remove the herb butter from the bowl and spoon onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Roll it into a log, twisting the ends, and chill in the fridge for several hours before serving or in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

5. Momentarily remove the steaks to a platter and set the temperature of your Traeger to 450 degrees F (High). A great trick to getting those iconic grill marks on your steak is to use a cast iron grill pan. Add it to the Traeger while it is coming to temperature to allow the pan to preheat with the grill and become screaming hot. Let the pan preheat on the Traeger for at least 20 minutes.

6. Additionally, drizzle/brush both sides of the steaks with canola oil to really get lovely caramelization on the outside.

7. Place the steaks in the cast iron grill pan and grill for 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second to achieve medium-rare doneness. Avoid flipping the steak more than once or twice. Flipping it too much can sabotage the outside sear.

Don't forget that it's easy to cook the steaks longer if they're under-done but there's no going back if you over-cook it. (Make sure you use tongs to move the steaks around so that you don't puncture the meat and lose any juices.)

*Here's an excellent way to check the doneness of your steak. Hold open your hand in front of you in a relaxed manner. Push on the fleshy part just under your thumb. For a rare steak, your meat should have that same consistency as that thumb muscle. For medium rare, gently put your pointer finger and thumb together. The consistency of your thumb muscle is the same as a medium rare steak. Repeat the same process going in order from your middle finger, to ring finger, to pinky for medium, medium-well, and well done. To make the comparison, gently prod the steak with your clean fingers.

OR you could always use your trusty instant-read thermometer.

Rare = 125 degrees F
Medium rare = 130 to 135 degrees F
Medium = 135 to 140 degrees F
Medium well = 140 to 150 degrees
Well = 155+ degrees F

8. Transfer the steaks to a platter and immediately top each with a pat of the herb-flavored butter to allow it to soak into the meat.

Rib-Eye 101: How to Grill the Perfect Rib-Eye Steak

Let the meat rest for 5 minutes before serving, additionally you can tent the steak with aluminum foil while resting.

Either serve each person a beefy rib-eye dripping with herbed butter and juices or slice it up and serve to several guests, if you must.

Rib-Eye 101: How to Grill the Perfect Rib-Eye Steak

PRINTABLE RECIPE:

Perfect Rib Eye Steaks Recipe.docx (14.44 kb)