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March 28, 2008 / Tony

Mexican Spice-Rubbed Rib Eyes with Lime Butter

The grill came out from its winter hibernation last night and it was a good thing.  Sure, the temperature was not quite 40 degrees F and I had to shovel off my porch, but I think it was well worth the effort.  As I ended last year grilling season with Rib Eye Steaks with Billionaire’s Bacon Butter, I thought it would be fitting to start this season with a Rib Eye steak as well.  And I wanted to cook right on top of my charcoal chimney again, just like last year.  Here’s what my grilling mise en place looked like:


And here’s the recipe I made:

Mexican Spice-Rubbed Rib Eyes with Lime Butter, adapted from a recipe in the April 2008 issue of Food & Wine magazine

For four servings

4 T unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/4 tsp finely grated lime zest

1 T fresh lime juice

Kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

4 12 ounce, 1-inch thick boneless rib eye steaks

Vegetable oil, for the grill

Light or preheat your grill.  In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic, zest, and lime juice with a pinch of kosher salt.  Set aside and keep at room temperature.  In another small bowl, mix the paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, and 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt.  Rub the spice mixture evenly over all of the steaks. 

Oil the grate of your grill and grill the steaks to your desired doneness, turning once.  Transfer the steaks to a platter and lightly cover with aluminum foil.  Let rest for 4 minutes.  Serve with the lime butter. 

This is what I came up with:


I served it with some roasted sweet potato with roasted garlic.  As you can see, my steak, turned out rare instead of medium rare.  I had a really good guess that this was going to happen as I was cooking but I needed to take the steak off the grill lest it burn.  This is how I grilled the steak:


As you can see, I put my grate right on top of my charcoal chimney.  The idea of this is to concentrate all of the heat of the charcoal in a small space.  This is to mimic the amount of heat available to chefs at the top steakhouses, the idea being that the large amount of heat would allow for excellent browning on the outside of steaks while cooking it fast enough so that the inside does not become overdone.  Imagine a black and blue steak, and you get the idea.  Of course, with that much heat, steaks can burn and hence, you are limited as to how long you can actually cook the steak.  As a general rule, you can’t really grill it any more than 5 minutes total on top of the chimney without burning.  But with that short of a cooking time, some environmental factors (as I now know) matter a lot.  For one, the outside temperature is key.  The outside temperature was about 37 degrees F when I grilled last night, which is about 25 degrees less than the last time I grilled.  I think that made the steak cook slower.  Second, I used a cold steak (refrigerator temperature all the way through).  I think next time I will try to use a room temperature steak as that will shorten the amount of time that the inside needs to come up to a pleasant medium rare.

As far as the recipe itself goes, I’d say it’s pretty average.  I really thought I would like the lime butter much better than I did but it was a bit odd, actually.  I couldn’t quite reconcile the brightness of the lime with the richness of the butter.  And that combination really didn’t do much with the steak either.  I don’t think I’ll be trying this recipe again. 

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