Like a lot of people, I’ve been reconsidering my relationship with meat and dairy over the last year or two.
This reconsideration has looked like prioritising more vegetable-driven dishes for lunches, choosing less red meat, buying from local producers with ethical practices where I can, and reading Alicia Kennedy’s essential newsletter. None of this is prescriptive nor revelatory, and I will likely never be someone who gives up meat and dairy wholesale – I like cheese, butter, the cream on top of unhomogenised milk, chicken and steak too much. But even these small gestures feel like they start to add up to something greater.
Part of this reconsidered consumption is erring towards a quality-over-quantity calculation – when I do eat red meat, I go all in. And it’s hard to get more all in than a great anvil of Galician “old cow” ribeye, imported from northern Spain (I got mine at Turner & George).
These particular old cows – from the Rubia Gallega breed – graze freely until they reach the ripe old age of 14, 15 or beyond. All that time and roaming around mountains translates into beef that tastes almost elemental – like aged leather, chocolate and coffee, deep and musky with animal funk, counterbalanced by golden caps of fat that melt like white chocolate on the tongue. It is the opposite of commodity steak, with its polarising gaminess and chew and visceral quality – but if you’re a true steak lover, there’s nothing else quite like it.
Whether you get your own Galician ribeye or any other thick-cut steak of your choice, the reverse-sear technique is the best way to cook it at home. I’m a total convert to this technique, popularised by J. Kenji López-Alt, whereby a steak is slow-cooked at low heat in an oven until it reaches an ideal internal temperature, before being seared off right before serving. The low-and-slow start means it’s much easier to dial in a correct temperature window, and the results – ruby, jewelled interiors contrasted with perfect char – speak for themselves. (Just note that you’ll need a probe thermometer to do this properly.)
To go with – because I still won’t quite let go of the lost promise of this summer – is a zingy tomato salad with crunchy cashews, fistfuls of fresh herbs and red onion. Not to mention a glass of Fremont Brewing’s Lush IPA.
One of the finest food-and-beer pairings I know is steak and West Coast IPA: Something about the way that bracing, bitter hops temper umami, fatty meat is among the simplest of pleasures. And I like Fremont Brewing’s Lush IPA because, for all of its classic Westy clarity and that cutting character, it still has an ebullience about it, a refreshing quality that matches this not-technically-autumn-yet seasonal transition.
For the steak:
1 large bone-in ribeye steak, between 1.5-2 inches thick
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
20g unsalted butter
1 large garlic clove
For the tomato salad:
½ red onion, thinly sliced
300g heirloom or vine-on tomatoes, sliced into wedges
1-2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon light brown sugar Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
Large handful coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Large handful mint leaves, roughly chopped
Large handful basil leaves, roughly chopped
100g cashews, toasted and lightly chopped
1. The night before you plan to cook the steak, dry brine it. Line a baking tray with foil and place a wire rack on top of it. Season the steak generously with flaky salt and black pepper on all sides. Leave uncovered, overnight, in the fridge (this helps dry out its exterior so you get a better sear at the end).
2. The next day, remove the steak from the fridge. Preheat your oven to 100° Celsius. If you have an oven-safe probe thermometer, insert it into the thickest part of the steak, ensuring it's not touching the bone, and place in the oven once preheated (if you don’t have this kind of thermometer, you’ll need a Thermapen-style insert thermometer that you can use to check the steak out of the oven).
3. Depending on your oven, cook the steak for approximately 35-40 minutes, or until the probe thermometer reaches 46° Celsius for medium-rare. (In my opinion, medium-rare is the objective best way to cook a ribeye; other temperatures and timings can be found at Serious Eat’s version of reverse-seared steak online). Remove from the oven and insert the probe elsewhere in the steak, just to ensure the reading is consistent. If you don’t have an in-oven thermometer, remove from the oven and start checking temperature readings from 20 or so minutes in.
4. Meanwhile, as the steak cooks, prepare your salad. Fill a small bowl with cold water and add the red onion slices – leave for 15-20 minutes to help remove their raw bite. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add the tomatoes, ginger, cumin and brown sugar. Season generously with flaky sea salt and black pepper to taste before drizzling over the olive oil and lemon juice. Mix and taste; adjust seasoning, or oil-lemon balance, if needed. Set aside.
5. Once the steak is out of the oven, set aside for just a minute or two. Add vegetable oil to a large frying pan (preferably well-seasoned cast iron or carbon-steel) and place over high heat until smoking-hot. Add the butter, the garlic, then the steak. Sear for 45 seconds on the first side until nicely browned (you’ll want to sear as briefly as possible to attain this, so that the steak doesn’t overcook). Sear for 45 seconds more on the reverse; using tongs, sear off the sides of the steak.
6. Once the steak is seared, no need to let it rest – you can slice and serve right away. Add the drained red onions, the chopped herbs and the toasted cashews to the salad and serve alongside.
Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beer hound and all-around lover of tasty things. You can follow her at @clairembullen. For more recipes like this, sign up to our HB&B All Killer No Filler beer subscription - you'll receive Claire's recipe and food pairings, plus beer reviews and expert tasting notes with up to 12 world-class beers - like this one - every month.