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Prime rib in a skillet
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Prime rib in a skillet

Ribeye steak It's hard to imagine (at least for carnivores), a festive dinner much more satisfying than a beef rib roast.

Often billed as a "standing" rib roast or "prime rib" (the latter being correct only if the beef is graded USDA Prime), this delicious dish is most often reserved for holidays and special occasions for several good reasons: Getting the roast just right can be a bit of a challenge, as can carving it neatly ... a typical three- or four-rib roast offers a lot of meat for a family of two ... and this is no cheap cut: A good roast will often boast a price tag of $30 or more.

But here's a happy short cut: You can come quite close to the tender goodness of a standing rib roast, with a lot less effort and expense, by choosing a thick ribeye steak and preparing it with the technique I'll review today, a quick pan-sear to get a dark-brown, crunchy crust, followed by a short stay in a hot oven to warm the center through to a delicious medium-rare.

After all, the ribeye (or rib eye), known in some places as a fillet steak or Delmonico steak, is nothing more than a thick slice of the rib roast, already neatly removed from the bone. A 1-pound ribeye will be more than enough for two, even after you trim the fatty portions that make up a fair share of this cut (but that also contribute to its flavor and tenderness). You can take it from the refrigerator to the table in about a half-hour ... and it's one of the best partners imaginable for a good red wine.

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

16-ounce ribeye steak, no less than 1 inch thick
Black pepper
Coarse sea salt


1. Prepare the steak. If you have time, let it come to room temperature before cooking, but this is not critical. Rub it all over with a smashed clove of garlic. Cover generously with freshly ground black pepper.

2. Preheat the oven to 450F.

3. Use an ovenproof skillet (no wood or plastic handle); black iron is best. Sprinkle the bottom of the skillet with a generous amount of coarse sea salt, a rounded teaspoon or more. Put over high heat for several minutes until it is scorching hot. Put in the steak and sear it on one side, without touching or moving it, for 4 minutes. Turn the steak and continue cooking on the other side for 3 minutes more. (This timing assumes a steak at least 1 inch thick. A thinner steak will need substantially less time.)

4. Handling the skillet with care and using heavy potholders or kitchen gloves, put it in the preheated oven. Roast for 7 minutes for medium-rare; adjust time accordingly if you like it more or less done.

5. Cut across into individual portions and serve.

WINE MATCH: This is a dish to prove the validity of the old and not-always-applicable saying, "red wine with red meat." We served it with a modest Bordeaux, the Chateau Guiraud-Cheval-Blanc 1998 Cotes de Bourg featured in yesterday's 30 Second Wine Advisor.

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Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Bucatini all'Amatriciana (Jan. 9)

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Thursday, Jan. 16, 2003
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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