The next time you want to treat yourself and your guests to an all-American meal to knock their socks off, these incredibly flavorful steaks are just the thing! When this thick (almost paste-like) garlicky-oniony-mustardy-peppery marinade is applied liberally all over the meat and then grilled over intense eat, or broiled really close to the heating element, you’re left with the savoriest steaks imaginable.
Rib-eye steaks (also called club steaks) are from the rib section, just between the chuck and short loin of cattle and are exceptionally tender and succulent–although pricey. Other appropriate cuts of beef are porterhouse or T-bone (also from the loin section), London broil (top sirloin is best and top round is acceptable but drier) and my husband’s favorite, called strip or New York steaks (porterhouse steaks without the fillet). For all individual steaks on the bone, allow a minimum of 8 ounces per person to compensate for any shrinkage during cooking.
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In a medium nonreactive bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients and stir well, using lots and lots of freshly ground black pepper--grind until it hurts, then do two more! (Or, simply grind whole black peppercorns in an electric spice grinder.)
Lay steaks in a 9x13-inch glass baking dish in a single layer and coat each steak generously on both sides with the marinade mixture. Grind a generous amount of additional black pepper on each side. Cover and leave at a comfortable room temperature for 30 minutes to 2 hours at a cool room temperature or refrigerate for up to 12 hours. Bring the steaks to a cool room temperature before cooking. (*See the timing note at the end of this recipe.)
Lift the steaks from the marinade and let some of the excess drip off but don’t wipe off the meat. Grill over hot coals or on a gas grill preheated to high (have the grill grate lubricated, too), turning once, until done to your liking, basting occasionally with extra-virgin olive oil, only if necessary. Before turning, sprinkle the meat lightly but evenly with kosher or sea salt. When grilling, for medium rare, these steaks will require about 6 minutes on the first side and 4 minutes on the second. When done, the exterior of steaks should be sizzling, deeply caramelized and incredibly savory looking. If the meat was taken from the refrigerator just before grilling, they will require about 2 minutes more cooking per side.
Position the rack to the upper 1/3 of the oven and preheat the broiler for at least 15 minutes. Lay steaks on a cold broiler pan (with all the marinade left on the meat) and apply a light but even dusting of salt to the top. Place under the preheated broiling element. For medium rare, broil 5 inches from the heat source (with the door ajar, if applicable to your oven), about 8 minutes on the first side. Turn steaks and broil 5 minutes. As when grilling, if the meat was taken from the refrigerator just before broiling, they will require about 2 minutes more cooking per side.
Serve steaks hot, accompanied with sharp steak knives.
If using a flavorful, albeit tougher cut of meat:
Skirt steaks or flank steaks are wonderful prepared this way. Each will weigh between 1 1/2 and 2 pounds and can serve 3 people adequately. Since these cuts are thinner than individual steaks, they will cook quicker. Grill over very hot coals or broil as close as possible to the heating element for the most enticing flavor and appearance. For best texture, slice these cuts on the diagonal (with the knife blade positioned at a 45 degree angle).
Marinating naturally tender (and already flavorful) cuts of beef (like rib eyes, strip steaks or the porterhouse cut) for more than 12 hours in a mixture with an acidic ingredient could adversely affect the texture. On the other hand, when choosing to marinate a tougher cut (like skirt steaks or flank steaks) for only 30 minutes to 2 hours, the ultimate flavor of the cooked beef will benefit but any tenderizing potential is minimized. These can be marinated successfully for 24 hours. Whatever your choice, however, while marinating always use a nonreactive container such as glass. If you only have an aluminum pan, place the steaks in a heavy-duty, freezer-type plastic bag and apply the marinade as directed.
When grilling and entertaining, if you’d like to be able to sear the steaks on a hot grill and then finish them indoors (let’s say, after your first course), do this:
1) Place a shallow baking sheet, lined with aluminum foil (shiny side up) in a 425°F oven and let it sit there until needed (at least 30 minutes).
2) Soon before sitting down to eat, sear your steaks as directed, but don’t cook them all the way. Bring the seared steaks inside and leave them in the kitchen.
3) After you’ve finished your first course, and you’ve cleared those plates, place the seared steaks onto the hot baking sheet and cook them undisturbed for 3 to 9 minutes, depending on how long they’ve been off the grill, on the particular cut of steak (and on how “done” you like your steaks). While the steaks finish cooking, you can tend to the rest of the components of your “main course.”