How to Grill Rib Steak

by Fred Decker

Rib steaks are large steaks, with the juicy and well-marbled "eye" surrounded by seams of fat, a rib bone and an equally tender band of cap muscle at the outer edge. They're best when cut to a thickness of about 1 1/2 inches, producing a steak that usually weighs a pound or more and serves two.

Wipe the cut portion of rib bone with a damp paper towel to remove any fine bone fragments that might have been left behind by the butcher's saw. Blot any moisture from the surface of the steak with a fresh paper towel.

Season the steak liberally with coarse sea salt or kosher salt, and let it rest for 45 minutes or longer. During the first several minutes, the salt draws juices from the meat, which then -- having dissolved the salt and formed a brine -- reabsorb into the beef.

Cover the beef and return it to your refrigerator if you won't be cooking it within the hour. The salt you've added will permeate the meat, resulting in a steak that's seasoned all the way through rather than just at the surface.

If you have a gas grill, heat it to 250 F with the lid closed. Only light one side of the grill, at this point. You'll use the other side later, to finish the steak. If you have a charcoal grill, fill one side of the grill with coals and wait as they develop a light coat of ash. Rake a small portion of the coals to the second side of the kettle, creating a low-temperature area of dispersed coals and a high-temperature area of mounded coals. Close the lid and adjust the vents to bring your cooking temperature down to about 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take your steak from the refrigerator and uncover it. Blot any moisture from the surface again with fresh paper towels. If the outer band of cap muscle isn't firmly secured to the rest of the steak, tie it in place with butcher's twine.

Brush the steak with canola or another high-temperature cooking oil and place it on the unlit side of the grill. Close the lid. Oiling the steak is more effective than oiling the grill, to avoid sticking.

Cook the steak gently at 250 F for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on its thickness, turning it periodically. Extra-thick 2-inch steaks might need up to 25 or 30 minutes using this method.

Grasp the steak with your tongs and raise one edge, sliding an instant-read thermometer horizontally into the middle of the steak. The slow-cooking stage is finished when your steak reaches 10 to 15 degrees below its target temperature. For example, if you like your steaks medium at 135 F, you'd grill them until they reach 120 or 125 F. For medium-rare or rare, lower those temperatures an extra 5 to 10 degrees.

Turn the flames to high on one side of your gas grill and give it a moment to heat. On a charcoal kettle, just lifting the lid will supply the added oxygen you'll need for the hot side of your grill to spring to life. Transfer the steak to the hot side of the grill, and sear it for just 2 to 3 minutes, turning the steak so it browns evenly.

Transfer the steak to a cutting board or preheated serving platter and let it rest under a loose covering of foil for at least 5 minutes. Once it has rested, slice the steak and serve it.


• Many authorities advise letting the meat come to room temperature for a while before cooking your steak, but that's ineffective for all but the thinnest cuts. Food safety limits meats to two hours at room temperature, which isn't long enough to meaningfully warm the interior of a thick rib steak.

• The portion of a rib steak closest to the bone will be slightly rarer than the remainder. Reserve that portion for a diner who appreciates pink beef, or position your steak with the bone side closer to the hot half of the grill during the slow-cooking phase.

• A thick rib steak can easily weigh 1 1/2 pounds or more and feed two to three people lavishly, even after the weight of bone and fat is accounted for.

• Rib steaks have a rich, beefy flavor already because of their high fat content, so marinades aren't necessary. If you want to use one anyway, remember to blot the surface before you cook the steak. Your marinade will still fill the millions of tiny crevices in the beef's surface, but won't prevent the steak from browning properly.

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About the Author

Fred Decker is a trained chef and prolific freelance writer. In previous careers, he sold insurance and mutual funds, and was a longtime retailer. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. His articles have appeared on numerous home and garden sites including GoneOutdoors, TheNest and eHow.