It all started, the weekend before last, with a big jar of dried porcini mushrooms crying out for attention in our kitchen cabinet. Not that they go bad quickly, but we had a big jar of them and having just written a story about mushrooms, I had fungi on my mind. I’d also been wanting to try something new from one of my favorite cookbooks, Mario Batali’s The Babbo Cookbook.
Add to the situation that at least one of the two of us loves to grill steak in the winter, and there was our answer on page 227, Dry-Rubbed Rib-Eye Steak for Two. I’m not a big meat eater, but I will eat meat if it is organic. And it just happened that there were organic rib-eye steaks at the market, and so it went. Then, this weekend, we were invited to dinner at our friends’ apartment before going out to a late party... They too had the instinct to grill steaks, and to my delight, allowed me to do a spice rub ala Batali. John, our grill-master for the evening (and not a man I normally associate with the kitchen) whipped out a grill pan and started in with some sliced onions. Brilliant! I was so impressed! It was delicious and, along with two glasses of Ravenswood Zinfandel, had me dancing until three.
So this winter, invite some guests over and make a few simple steaks. You don’t need a big terrace with a big barbecue – you just need a simple grill pan (available anywhere kitchenware is sold) and some good ingredients. Not a meat-eater? Try rubbing down some tofu, or root vegetables. Winter got you down? No sweat, there are fun and flavorful days ahead. Make your next big night out, a big night in. skgr of SKCooks Dry-Rubbed Rib-Eye Steak for Two (Batali says this makes two servings, I say it makes four) 2 tablespoons sugar 1 tablespoon kosher salt 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup dry porcini mushrooms, ground to a fine powder in a spice grinder 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil One 28-ounce rib-eye steak, cut 2 inches thick Best-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling Best-quality balsamic vinegar, for drizzling In a small bowl, combine the sugar, salt, garlic, red pepper flakes, pepper, mushroom powder and olive oil and stir well to form a thick, fairly dry paste. Rub the paste all over the steak, coating it evenly, and refrigerate, wrapped in plastic, for 12 hours or overnight. Preheat the grill or broiler. Remove the steak from the refrigerator and brush off the excess marinade with a paper towel. Cook on the hottest part of the grill for 25 minutes, turning every 6 minutes, or to an internal temperature of 120 F for medium rare. Allow the steak to rest for 10 minutes, then slice against the grain. Drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and serve immediately.