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As good as grilling gets: Rib eye with dry mushroom spice rub

Q: Prepping for a family barbecue. I've mastered the burgers and dogs, but what's the best way to grill a steak?

A: It's finally getting warm enough that the idea of firing up the grill is creeping into our minds.

It's hard to go wrong with a grill, a steak, a beer and family. For me, the tastiest option is the rib eye. Rib eye is the steak Italians eat when they can't find a T-bone for bistecca alla Fiorentina. But this cut is far from an ugly stepchild.

Rather than marinate the steak, use a dry rub, which causes the meat to exude some of its water. The result will be more firm, more flavorful and more intense-tasting beef. In this recipe, I use a mushroom spice rub. The sugar helps to develop a char, and the porcini powder adds an immeasurable earthy, umami component.

Every steak cooks differently, depending on the thickness and on the heat of the grill. If you're working with a 2- to 3-inch rib eye (as I recommend), the steak should be on the grill for about 25 minutes -- perhaps counterintuitively.

Always make sure to set up the grill with one side hot and one side medium. Start the steak on the hottest part of the grill and cook unmoved 5 minutes. Create the beautiful grill marks by turning the steak 90 degrees and cook for another 4 minutes. At this point there should be deep char marks... If not, leave alone until there are, maybe another 4 minutes. Flip over and cook the same way, resisting the urge to turn more frequently. Those minutes over the charcoal will create a crust of deliciousness.

Check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer and cook till 125 F internal for medium rare. If the steak is charred on both sides and still well under temp, cook it on the slow side of the grill with the top down for 3 minutes and then recheck the internal temperature. Continue until cooked just right. Be sure to let the meat rest 10 minutes off the heat before slicing; it will help the meat settle and retain its juices.

The word tagliata refers to the fact that the steak is served sliced rather than whole. Sprinkle the cut pieces with a coarse sea salt such as Maldon, and then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. A good salt crunch works really nicely to highlight the flavor of the steak.

Ramp up Father's Day or any celebratory weekend with this dish. It never disappoints.

Tagliata of Bone-In Rib Eye with Arugula

Serves 4.

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes

1/4 cup porcini mushroom powder

5 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus about 1 tablespoon

One 3- to 3 1/2-pound bone-in rib-eye steak, about 3 inches thick

3 cups trimmed arugula, washed and spun dry

Fine sea salt

Great extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Balsamic vinegar for drizzling

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, mushroom powder, garlic and 1/4 cup olive oil, and stir well to form a thick paste with the consistency of wet sand.

Rub the paste all over the steak, coating it evenly. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or overnight.

About 1 hour before grilling, remove the steak from the refrigerator and brush off the excess marinade with a paper towel. Place on a plate and let come to room temperature.

Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill (use enough coals to keep the fire going for about 25 minutes).

Put the steak on the hottest part of the grill, cover, and cook, turning every 5 to 8 minutes, for about 25 minutes for medium-rare; the internal temperature should be 125 F. Transfer to a carving board and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, dress the arugula with about 1 tablespoon olive oil, and season with sea salt to taste.

Slice the meat against the grain into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Arrange on plates or a platter, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and top with the arugula. Serve immediately.

(Mario Batali is the award-winning chef behind twenty-four restaurants including Eataly, DelPosto, and his flagship Greenwich Village enoteca, Babbo. In this column, Mario answers questions submitted via social media and by people he encounters daily in Downtown Manhattan. Keep asking!)

Copyright © 2015, CT Now
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