Rib-eye is what most of us picture when we think of "steak." It's the cut that beckons to you from the meat case as you walk by, tempting you with its swirls of red and white marbling and the snowy cap of fat along the side. Rib-eye is also our top choice when we cook steak at home, whether it's in a grill pan on the stove or over the flames of a grill.
This cut is called a rib-eye because of where it comes from: the rib section of the steer. It's an incredibly tender cut both because the fine-grained muscle fibers and also because of its extensive marbling. During cooking, that fat marbling melts and bastes the meat from within. The result is a richly-flavored steak with a silky mouthfeel. So good!
When buying rib-eyes, get the best you can find. Rib-eyes are going to be expensive no matter what, so you might as well spend a few extra dollars to get one that was grass fed and humanely raised. Look for cuts that show a healthy amount of white marbling on the interior and have a pure-white edge of fat along one side. Above all else, the steak should look like something you want to eat.
A one pound rib-eye steak is generally enough for two people to share. It's best to cook the steak the same day you buy it, but it can also be kept wrapped and refrigerated for a few days. Let it rest on the counter for 20 minute or so before cooking to take the chill off and help the steak cook more evenly.
Rib-eyes are a quick-cooking steak cut. You want them to kiss the grill, get some char, and then they're done. If you really want to give yourself a treat, add a pat of butter mixed with herbs to the finished steak just before serving.
Do you love rib-eye steaks? What's your favorite way to cook them?
(Image: Faith Durand)