Labor Day weekend, considered the unofficial last weekend of the summer season in the United States, is just around the corner. You've likely been grilling all manner of meats, vegetables, seafood and maybe even fruit since late spring, and now it's time for a classic—rib eye steak—to end the season with a bang. We asked the hardworking chefs at Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in Houston, to share their grill tips and secrets for getting the best flavor out of a grilled steak. They've shared their Perfect Rib Eye recipe below, along with a simple, delicious tomato salad recipe to serve alongside.
And of course, we've got some wine suggestions, in the form of tasting notes, scores and prices for 14 recently rated reds from California. The list includes a handful of Pinot Noirs, which Pappas Bros. wine director Drew Hendricks particularly recommends for pairing with rib eye. Happy grilling, happy drinking, and happy Labor Day!
Pappas Bros.' executive chef Michael Velardi says, "Prime beef can be purchased from your local butcher; ask for a cut that is 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick, with predominate marbling. Angus or Choice rib eye steaks can be used if Prime is unavailable."
• 4 Prime rib eye steaks
• Kosher salt to taste
• Coarsely ground black pepper
• Salted butter, softened
1. Prepare the grill by preheating it to high. High heat is important for searing and browning the meat; this will contribute to the flavor of the finished steak.
2. While the grill is heating up, pull the meat from the refrigerator to remove some of the chill.
3. Just before grilling, season the steaks generously with salt and pepper. Do not pound or press the steaks before or during cooking; this will cause toughness and reduce juiciness.
4. Place the steaks on the grill, keeping lid open throughout the grilling process. Gently flip the steaks every 2 to 3 minutes, to achieve an even sear on both sides. Pappas chefs suggest grilling to medium rare; this will take about 8 to 10 minutes total, depending on the heat and thickness of the steak.
5. Once the steaks have reached the desired doneness, remove from grill and let rest for 5 minutes; this will allow the meat to relax and retain its juices.
6. Finish by lightly brushing the top of each steak with butter. Serves 4 to 6, depending on size of steaks and guests' appetites.
Chef Velardi suggests choosing large beefsteak tomatoes that are ripe and deep in color. When in season, heirloom or locally grown tomatoes will also work well in this salad.
• 4 large beefsteak tomatoes, each cored and sliced horizontally into 3 pieces
• 3/4 cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
• 3/4 cup crumbled Roquefort cheese
• 12 large rings sweet yellow onion, each 1/4-inch thick
• Kosher salt
• Coarsely ground black pepper to taste
1. Arrange tomato slices on four individual serving plates. Sprinkle salt evenly over the surface of tomatoes.
2. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar. Pour half the vinaigrette mixture into a separate bowl, and mix the cheese with the remaining half of the vinaigrette. Distribute the cheese and vinaigrette mixture evenly over the tomatoes.
3. Place the onion rings on top of the tomato slices.
4. Drizzle remaining red wine vinaigrette over the top.
5. Finish by sprinkling with freshly ground black pepper. Serves 4 as an appetizer.
14 RECOMMENDED REDS FROM CALIFORNIA
Note: The following list is a selection of wines from recently rated releases.
WineSpectator.com members only: