Friday, February 22, 2013

Pan Seared RIB EYE STEAK with a Cognac Pan Sauce ala Alton Brown

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I am seriously considering using this photo as my next Christmas Card.

Pan Seared Rib Eye, extra thick cut, cooked to a perfect medium rare (hot pink center, internal temp of 135 degrees), topped with a cognac pan gravy sauce and served on a garlic-basil pea puree, garlic masher potatoes, and topped with a Parmesan crisp.

Now, that is what I call... GOOD EATS!

The Pan seared Rib-eye is the very first recipe, from the very first pilot episode (there were two pilots) from Alton Brown's Peabody Award winning series, Good Eats!  If you are paying attention, you remember that last week I got a shipment of books from  Good Eats: the Early Years has been on my want list since I first heard of the book being released.  The show is made just for me (so I believe).  A little science, just enough to know how and why food cooks like it does, and basic recipes, easily adapted to taste.  But, unless you can DVR it and rerun parts with a notepad, the recipes are usually gone by the time you realize you want to try them.  This book solves that problem, with all the recipes reprinted, and much of the content of the shows graphically explained (lots of photos and drawings).

The book is BIG, heavy and perfect for fans and learning cooks.

And best of all, Mr. Brown in his introduction puts pen to a way to explain my cooking journey, and the approach I take to blogging.  Despite the cover boldly advertising "more than 140 recipes", Alton claims that there are no recipes in the book.  He shows applications.  Think mathematical "proofs" that are used to build on.  If you know this, you can do that, and once you can do that, these are easy.  The man is a genius.

And speaking of genius, he starts right in with his "application" for a pan seared Rib-eye Steak.  This is best cooked on a cast iron skillet, as the meat will go from stove top to oven.  Also, an instant read meat thermometer is needed to get the proper degree of doneness.  I like mine medium rare, Jackie is a medium well fan (sigh).  Honestly, if you don't have one of those remote prob meat thermometers you should seriously consider them.  PERFECT steaks every time.  No more guess work.  And best of all, the prices have taken a huge drop recently (half what I paid a year ago)...

All right, let's get right to his... "application" for


2 - 1 1/2 inch thick Boneless Rib-eye Steaks (about a pound each)
1 teaspoon Canola Oil
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
  1. Allow steaks to come to room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. Position rack in the center of the oven.  Crank to 500 degrees and slide in a cast iron skillet to warm.
  3. When oven hits temperature, carefully (Note: it's HOT) move skillet to cook top over high heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Lightly coat steaks with conola oil, then liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place the steaks in the pan and do not touch them for 30 seconds.  Use a kitchen timer.  (Note: expect a lot of smoke, turn the fan on your hood).
  5. Flip the steak with tongs (note: NEVER use a fork, never put holes in your meat when cooking, always use tongs) and cook for another 30 seconds.
  6. Move the skillet back to the 500 degree oven for 2 minutes.  Flip the steaks and cook for another 2 minutes.  This step will need to be repeated a number of times, depending on step 7.
  7. Check the internal temperature of your steaks.  Medium Rare steaks are done when they reach an internal temperature of 130 to 135 degrees (mine took 8 minutes to cook).  Medium Well steaks (shudder) are done when they reach 145-150 degrees (Jackie's took 12 minutes).
  8. Rest the meat for 5 minutes (Note: this step is VERY important.  Have you ever seen steak served in a pool of blood?  This step will fix that unsightly problem.  The juices will collect in the meat and remain if you rest the meat uncut for 5 minutes.  Actually, I rest mine in a double layer of aluminum foil.  This also keeps the meat hot the entire time, so you can serve a HOT medium rare steak at the same time you are serving a HOT medium well steak.  Just trust the temperature prob, and DO NOT EVER CUT INTO THE STEAK TO TEST DONENESS!  Also, since I was making a Cognac Pan gravy Sauce, I rested my meat for almost 15 minutes.  If it was not tightly wrapped in aluminum foil, the steaks would have begun to cool.  Since mine were wrapped, they were served HOT!).
Alton does explain the proper way to check for internal temperature (from the side, not the top.  You want to measure the temp at the thickest part of the meat, in the center.  When you check from the top, it is hard to find the center).

He also explains a complicated set up for resting.  I confess that aluminum foil works for me, and I did not follow his resting collection method for collecting juices.  Buy the book and take a look for yourself if you want to get complicated.

While the meat is resting, I followed Alton's application for a ...


1/4 cup Cognac (I used ALIZE brand Passion Fruit infused Cognac)
1 ounce Blue Cheese
2 Tablespoons Butter
  1. Allow the skillet to cool for 1 minute (took at least that long to wrap the meat).  Pour in the cognac and whisk to dissolve all the little bits stuck to the skillet (deglaze the pan).
  2. Reduce the cognac for 30 seconds (If you are using a heavy bottom cast iron skillet, no need to return the pan to the heat.  It is still plenty hot).
  3. Add the cheese and whisk another 30 seconds
  4. Add the butter and continue to whisk until it is incorporated and the sauce begins to thicken slightly.
  5. Serve in Ramekins for dipping, or pour over the top of your steaks!
Here's some photos to show how I did it...

Boy does it smoke...

But that first 30 seconds, while it smokes produces a beautiful sear.

No shots in the oven (would be boring), but the meat resting in the aluminum foil is SOOOOO important, wanted to show this.

Time to make the Gravy...

Time to cut the meat.  Still tongs, just toss that big fork away.  You do not want to use it... EVER!

And here's my money shot!  Beautiful deep red color, still hot (internal temp actually evened out to 137 degrees while it rested.  Look at the marbling, moist, tender, juicy... A beautiful thing.  Also note that there is no pool of blood under the steak.  the resting will keep that from happening, even on a more rare steak than this.  REST YOUR MEAT!

And here is the difference between medium rare and medium well.  Hard to tell, but the medium rare steak is thicker (they started same thickness), and the marbling is reduced.  Fat is good in a steak.  Fat flavors, but always best to keep your guests happy and serve their steaks the correct degree of doneness (no matter how wrong she is).

Anyone want to stop by for dinner???

Come back tomorrow to hear about my soon to be legendary Pea Puree! 


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