Have I told you yet that I lived in Chicago for a year between undergrad and grad school? It’s where I made some really amazing Midwestern-y friends who called soft drinks “pop” and laughed at my southern accent. (For the record, I don’t have an accent.) They’d roll their eyes and smile when I’d clap my hands together like a toy monkey at the first sight of soft snowflakes. (I only did that for the first dozen times, y’all.) And they’d ask out of both genuine concern and confusion, “Where are your gloves? And why don’t you wear tights under your skirts? And don’t you own any boots?!” when I’d show up to work dressed for some other season in the dead of winter. (Okay, I probably deserved that last bit, but dressing for snow is hard.)
But that year in Chicago, where I was alone and lost in more ways than just my winter wardrobe, was also a year for finding my way through the kitchen. My very first, shared with no one, make-whatever-the-heck-I-want-for-dinner-even-if-it’s-just-cereal-and-wine kitchen. It wasn’t fancy. In fact, it had only about two-feet of counter space, half of which was entirely consumed by my bland-as-a-butter-knife target-brand knife set and an oversized toaster. But it was in that tiny kitchen that I made my first Christmas dinner for my boyfriend (now husband) and myself. Where I learned that risotto is cooked low and slow and that truffle oil makes almost anything better, especially in meals made for one.
It’s also where I learned how to make a mean steak.
Let me stop you right there because I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that steak is for elderly gentlemen who say with a kind of pride that makes food lovers like us scrunch our eyebrows together in confusion, “I’m a meat-and-potatas kinda man.” Please stop thinking about that. Steak deserves so much more. Maybe not all steak, but this steak here, this gorgeous, perfectly-marbled cut of Snake River Farms wagyu ribeye filet with just the right amount and distribution of fat and a finger-licking wintery rub, deserves more.
In the spirit of the season, this ribeye filet is dusted in a holiday-inspired dry rub that’s bitter from Louisiana chicory coffee, sweet from cocoa powder and brown sugar, and just a touch spicy from the addition of pepper and paprika. To keep the meat tender and juicy, I give it a quick pan sear in hot oil to develop a rich, dark crust before basting it with a knob of good butter and popping it into the oven to finish it off in a lower dry heat until medium rare.
Since neither of us are “just steak and potatas” kind of people, and I say that with complete confidence and pride, I’ve paired this with a winter-inspired side salad of mixed greens, toasted pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds, and shaved pecorino all tossed with a bright lemony vinaigrette. Together, the whole dish looks festive, tastes festive, and reminds me why steak is so damn special in the first place, both in my heart and in my slightly-larger-than-way-back-when present-day kitchen.
But here’s the part that makes me toy monkey-clap my hands like a southerner in snow all over again: Today the folks over at Snake River Farms, the Idaho-based producers of some of the most gorgeous Wagyu in the world, are offering one of you amazing readers a seriously generous holiday giveaway: An American Kobe Steak Flight, featuring Wagyu filet mignon, ribeye filets, sirloin filets, espresso salts, and more. It’s pretty much the best gift ever for the meat lovers in your life, or, you know, for yourself.
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below telling me about one of the first dishes you learned to master in the kitchen. (Don’t forget to include your email address so I can reach you if you win!) I’ll draw a winner live on Periscope (brookebasspdx) on Monday, December 7th at 4pm PST. This contest is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered. And congrats, Pam, on being the winner of the Snake River Farms Wagyu Steak Flight giveaway!
- 2 teaspoons of chicory coffee grinds*
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons of fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon of kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons of paprika
- 1 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil
- 2 6-8 ounce ribeye filets*
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- ½ teaspoon of kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon of cracked black pepper, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups of fresh arugula
- 1 cup of fresh spinach
- seeds from ½ pomegranate
- ¼ cup of roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
- shaved pecorino cheese, for garnish
- Remove ribeye filets from the refrigerator roughly 30 minutes before you are ready to begin cooking to bring them to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Use a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder to grind the coffee into a finer grain. In a small bowl, combine the coffee, brown sugar, pepper, salt, paprika, and cocoa. Pat steaks dry with paper towels and then rub the coffee and spice mixture all over both sides of the steaks.
- Add oil to a cast iron skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Once oil begins to shimmer, add filets to the skillet and cook on one side for 1 minute, then rotate to the other side and continue cooking for another 1 minute. Add butter to the pan, turn steaks one more time, tip the pan and gently spoon butter over the tops of the filets to baste. Insert pan directly into the preheated oven and cook until a meat thermometer inserted into the meat registers 125 degrees F, about 10-12 minutes for filets that are 1-1/2 inches thick. Thinner filets will require less time and thicker filets will require more. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for at least 5 minutes while you assemble the salad. The meat at this point will be rare, but it will continue to cook to between medium rare and medium as it rests and redistributes juices.
- Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to a small bowl and whisk until mixed. In a slow and steady stream, add the olive oil, whisking while you pour.
- Add arugula, spinach, pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds to a medium sized bowl. Just before serving the steak, toss the salad with the vinaigrette, a little bit at a time. I used about 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette for the whole salad. The leftover vinaigrette will keep in a tightly sealed jar the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Garnish with shaved pecorino cheese and freshly cracked pepper, if desired.
While I cooked with ribeye filets here, you could replicate this recipe on almost any cut of tender meat. I have used it on both tenderloin and bone-in ribeyes with great success, but do adjust the cooking times accordingly.
The recipe here is for two servings, which will leave you with extra rub. Store leftover rub in a sealed container or spice jar at room temperature for up to 1 month.