March 13th, 2011

The Epicure

Cooking with a Butcher's Apprentice, Part VI - Reunion Ribeye

In celebration of seeing V for the first time in two months, I simply had to cook. And because he had detoured on her way home from a conference in barbecue country (Lexington style, iirc), secured transport into the hippie hills in the wee hours, and braved the treacherous path up to the cottage on crutches and in a boot, I wanted it to be something special. Enter the dry-aged ribeye.

The shop does its own dry aging, setting aside whole joints for a period of roughly 21 days. During this time, various natural processes shed moisture, tenderize muscle fibers, and concentrate and improve the overall flavor of the beef. When it's finished, it's trimmed, cut, and sold dear. The result is steak that tastes like a little bit of magic.

I riffed on David Chang and Fergus Henderson for this one. I think what was most fun about this process was that adaptations and departures seemed to suggest themselves based on what was on hand and entirely on the fly.

You will need for a generous dinner for two:

2 marrow bones (center-cut, roughly 2" long)
3 shallots, one sliced paper thin, the other two peeled
Bunch of parsley
Olive oil
Meyer lemon
Bone-in dry aged ribeye steak, cut to 1.5"
Butter
Thyme (sprigs are best, but make do)
Salt and pepper

Method:
  • Let steak sit for roughly 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • Slice one shallot as thin as you can, chop parsley leaves, and toss the lot with olive oil, salt, and the juice of your lemon. Cool in the fridge.
  • Pre-heat oven to 400F. When you reach temperature, place the marrow bones in a roasting pan large enough to hold them and eventually the steak and put them into the oven for 12 minutes.
  • Liberally season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper.
  • Place pan with a hint of oil over medium high heat. When oil just begins to smoke, sear each side of the steak for 2 minutes.
  • Transfer steak to roasting pan with marrow bones and return to the oven for approximately 10 minutes.
  • At your mark, remove the steak from the oven and set aside. Cover and rest for 10 minutes.
  • While your meat rests, take the pan the steak was seared in and place it over medium low heat. Add a knob of butter and a splash of oil and scrape any fond from the bottom of the pan. Scoop the marrow from the bones and whisk it into the resulting mixture. Add shallots and thyme, reduce heat to low.
  • Cut main muscle of the steak away from the bone and cut on the bias into 1/2" thick slices. Place several of these onto each plate with a hint of the heavily flavored butter and a spoon of the parsley salad on the side. Serve with a green salad and savor.


Chang actually does this whole process in a large cast iron skillet, with no transfer, and with a spoon basting of the meat after it comes out of the oven. Conceptually, it's rather lovely, but equipment being what it is and wanting to introduce the roasted marrow to take it that much more over the top, I opted for a departure from his method. Dinner was brilliant, and all the more so for V's smile and quiet enjoyment.

~*~

Some naming criteria as shared by one of my mentors:

1) Get over the "What the hell am I doing?" (or in my case "I'm the Junior Team Member!") hump
2) Lose weight
3) Notice that your hands hurt almost all of the time

and as a special optional bonus...

4) List "apprentice butcher" as your occupation on a passport application