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Diary of a Foodie

Super-Prime Côte de Boeuf

Diary of a Foodie: Season One: Anatomy of a Meal II with Lydia Shire

Serves8 generously
  • Active Time:1 hr
  • Start to Finish:2 hr
Be prepared: This cut of beef is expensive—we found that prices ranged from $35 to $88 per steak (remember, each steak serves two). But we like to think that it's worth it for one of the best steaks you'll ever have. Shire asks her butcher for "super prime," by which she means prime-graded rib steaks that have been dry aged for up to six weeks, a process that tenderizes the meat from within, allowing deep flavor to develop.

Shire prepares a delicious marinade with pomegranate molasses for her steaks, but don't feel that you have to do so, too. A simple sprinkling of salt and pepper, along with the parmesan sauce, suits this extraordinary piece of meat just fine.

To impart a subtle but undeniable smokiness, we used natural hardwood charcoal with soaked hickory chunks as our grill fuel. Shire adds grapevine cuttings to her charcoal, but we have omitted them from this recipe because we didn't notice a difference in the flavor of the meat.
January 2007
  • ADAPTED FROM LYDIA SHIRE
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 large shallots (6 ounces), coarsely chopped
  • 8 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup sprigs tender fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup springs tender fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses (see Cooks' note, below)
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest (see Cooks' note, below)
  • 1/4 cup black peppercorns, crushed with bottom of a heavy skillet
  • 4 (2 1/2-inch-thick) bone-in rib-eye steaks (about 2 1/4 pound each; preferably prime, dry aged) at room temperature 30 minutes
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 (2- by 1- by 1-inch) hickory wood chunks or chips (optional: see Cooks' note, below), soaked in water 2 hours and drained
  • Special equipment:

    a large chimney starter; hardwood charcoal; an instant-read thermometer
  • Accompaniment:

  • Heat oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook shallots and garlic, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, about 6 minutes. Stir in rosemary and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in pomegranate molasses and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in zest and peppercorns and remove from heat, then cool completely.
  • Prepare a charcoal grill for cooking over medium-hot charcoal: Open vents on bottom of grill and in lid. Light a heaping chimney starter full of hardwood charcoal. When coals are lit, dump them out evenly across bottom rack. Add drained hickory chunks to coals. When fire is medium-hot (you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack with coals underneath for 3 to 4 seconds), you are ready to cook.
  • Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 300ºF.
  • Brush steaks all over with cooled marinade and season generously with salt. Oil grill rack, then sear steaks on rack, uncovered, turning over once and, if necessary, moving around grill when flare-ups occur (cover grill briefly, about 30 seconds at a time to alleviate any flare-ups), until well browned, 14 to 18 minutes total. Transfer steaks to a large shallow baking pan.
  • Smear each steak with 1 tablespoon butter and bake until thermometer inserted into center of meat (do not touch bone) registers 120ºF, about 25 minutes. Turn oven off and let steaks stand in oven 30 minutes (temperature will rise to 135ºF for medium-rare). Remove from oven and let stand no longer than 15 minutes.
  • Holding knife parallel to bone, cut steaks into 8 thick slices.
Cooks' notes:
  • Pomegranate molasses is available at specialty foods shops and kalustyans.com.
  • We prefer using a rasplike Microplane zester, which results in fluffier zest, so pack to measure. To zest lemon, remove colored part of rind only (avoid bitter white pith).
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