Delmonico steak

Delmonico steak: Coated with a spicy rub and mopped with a sauce, this version makes a great holiday indulgence. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune)

When we were younger, we ate more steak. My son, home from college this summer, reminds me that he is still "younger" and needs steak regularly. Especially during grilling season.

The steak of his dreams is inspired by Goodwood Barbecue Co., one of our favorite restaurants in Utah. After a day outdoors exercising while on vacation, indulging in steak proved a good idea. Their mopped Delmonico etched itself in our minds forever. The thick prime rib steak, cooked over wood, gets mopped with a zesty barbecue sauce just before it comes off the grill. We savored every bite.

This Fourth of July, we're grilling our own version to celebrate this great country and the plethora of steaks on sale for the holiday.

Delmonico steak, made famous by the original Delmonico's restaurant in New York City, always makes me swoon when it's offered on menus. I know I'll get a generous portion of a rich piece of beef. There's some debate about which cut of steak makes a Delmonico, but we're opting for a bone-in rib steak for its shape, ease of cooking and decadent texture from lots of marbling.

To cook steaks properly, don't go too thick or too thin. In our experience, 1- to 1 1/4-inch-thick steaks cook beautifully everywhere from the grill to the broiler to a hot skillet. This thickness also takes well to aggressive seasoning on the exterior yet leaves you with a definite steak sensation in the center. Don't trim the fat too closely — you'll want to leave a little to keep the cooking moist and so it chars nicely, which adds flavor.

Whenever possible, buy choice or prime steaks for the best flavor and most marbling, which means more foolproof cooking. Steaks graded "select" are very lean and supereasy to render dry and tough. Grass-fed steaks sold at natural grocery stores and online prove worth the added cost for the lessened environmental impact and rich flavor.

I take a two-step approach to seasoning these thick steaks: First, a simple rub applied a couple of hours in advance. Second, the mop with a smoky barbecue-inspired steak sauce. Our sauce recipe cooks in just 10 minutes and will keep a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.

Good steaks deserve high-heat cooking and the flavor of hardwood charcoal. After all, that's what we get when we go to our favorite steak joints. Select natural charcoal so the meat doesn't taste like chemicals. Alternatively, for gas-grilling, soak natural wood chips in water, then make a foil packet of them (pierced with holes) and place it over the heat source to add smoke.

The steak recipe doubles easily for a larger crowd. I plan on one generous steak per person — after all, it's a holiday. Alternatively, select smaller steaks, such as a boneless strip steak.

This steak came out so well my son told me that the restaurant had nothing on me. He just hoped he can order it again soon. First, we're going hiking.

Smoky barbecue steak sauce

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Makes: about 1 1/2 cups


1 cup ketchup

1/3 cup each: apple cider vinegar, dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon bacon fat, optional

1 ½ teaspoons pureed chipotle in adobo or 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon salt