When I was growing up we always had a grill. And when I went to college my parents gave me a little smokey joe charcoal cooker that fit perfectly on my tiny apartment balcony. I used it more than my stove, year-round. Even two feet of snow couldn’t keep me from firing up my burgers and chicken kabobs. On very special occasions I bought steaks. Filet mignon was a huge splurge, and I was petrified of messing up such an expensive cut of meat that cost more than my electric bill. So I seasoned them with salt and pepper, grilled and finished with a pat of butter, that was that. I might have served them with steak sauce, but a rub? What if it didn’t taste right, or scorched, or had too much kick from chile pepper? I didn’t know enough about them. Until I moved to the Southwest.
Most Southwestern grocery stores have a huge variety of jarred rub, rub packets, red hot rub, brown sugar rub, peppercorn rub, rub with parchment pouch kits, you name it. And virtually any city or town in the Southwest has a restaurant or two or fifty with their own speciality house rub.
For me it’s all about enhancing, not disguising the meat. And it’s also about starting with pure red chile powder…mild. You know you’ve got the right kind when the package reads: Ingredients: New Mexican red chile powder.
If it reads: chili pepper, other spices, garlic powder, cumin — that’s chili powder with an ‘i.’ Like taco seasoning, or for beef chili.
You want the chile with an ‘e.’
With garlic salt, onion powder, coriander, dried cilantro, black pepper, cayenne, and brown sugar.
If you don’t have dried cilantro, oregano is perfectly fine.
For many years I was all about the filet. And then Mr.D introduced me to the ribeye. Holy flavor!
This is a 1 1/4 inch thick ribeye from Sunnyside Farms in Durango. It’s beautifully marbled, and Sunnyside is mindful of humanely raised animals, with no synthetic hormones, steroids or antibiotics.
Two tablespoons of rub for each steak, one for each side.
When all coated, it marinates for an hour. This lets the rub infuse with the meat and brings it all to room temperature.
I’m using a stovetop grill pan these days because we’re renting our house for now, so our big grill is in storage. But here’s the thing — in learning how to use an indoor grill pan I have discovered the fabulous and tasty technique of cooking a steak in butter.
I bring the pan to medium high (that’s a 6 out of 10 on my burner.) Just when two pats of butter melt…..
……I put the steak on and let it cook for 4 – 6 minutes. I also lift it up with a fork a couple times, swirl the pan around and place the steak back down for more butter coverage.
It was a little chilly in my kitchen, so I covered the steak with foil as it cooked to keep the heat in.
One more pat of butter, flip and cook for 4 – 5 minutes. Or grilled to your preference.
Tips: Turn on your stove fan and open a window before grilling, it can get a little smoky. For perfectly cooked steak use a meat thermometer.
The butter and rub with brown sugar caramelized the meat. With a savory richness that is absolutley unforgettable. This is why I love this rub so much. It has a great earthy flavor, not too salty, a little cayenne heat, and crusty char with hint of sweetness from the brown sugar.
Move it to a platter, cover in foil and let rest for 5 – 8 minutes before serving so the juices will set and not run when the steak is cut.
At medium rare this is perfect for Mr.D. I like mine well done and grill for 2 – 3 minutes longer per side, especially with a thick cut like this.
If I hadn’t been out of milk I would have made the most decadent Southwest sweet milk gravy from the pan drippings. But soaking it up with a nice dinner roll wasn’t bad, nope, not bad at all.
My recipe calls for about half the salt, or thereabouts, of a normal rub. So you might want to keep shakers on the table for people to add to their liking. I also use a minimal amount of cayenne. If you add, be sure to whisk in 1/4 teaspoon at a time and taste. Because, unless you’re like my friend LightningWriter who teethed on habanero peppers as a wee baby, even tiny amounts of cayenne may have you misty-eyed and running for a pitcher of water before you know it.
Tip: Try pineapple juice to stop the burning on your tongue. Seriously it works. A tip from LightningWriter. Not that he actually needs it.