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Season the steak evenly with salt or finely crushed smoked salt on both sides and allow to rest in the fridge, uncovered, for a couple hours. I like using smoked salt if cooking on a gas grill since it supplies a smoky flavor. Pre-salting brings some of the juices and sugars to the surface which leads to better browning.
Coat the steak on both sides with Le Poivre and ground fennel. I like to use a ratio of about 2:1. The fennel adds a wonderful sweetness as it toasts. Then coat with some olive oil or any other liquid fat (regular butter does not work as well due to the water content so clarify it first).
Set up your grill for indirect cooking with one side on medium and the other side off, the goal is to have a steady temp of 200-225°F.
Place the steak on the cool side of the grill, and close the cover.
Cook until the internal temperature of the steak is around 110-115°F in the center, (110 for an inch thick, 115 for 1.5 inches). I find a thermocouple pen thermometer is the quickest and easiest way to check this. You can do it by feel and instinct but you will occasionally overcook.
At this point remove your steak and get the grill hot.
Finish your steak on the grill, flipping frequently, until the spices are nicely toasted and the color overall is a rich brown. I tend to find that 2-3 minutes of total cooking time on each side is about right to get a perfect medium-rare, my preferred doneness for ribeyes given how fatty they are.
Remove the steak to a cutting board you can serve it on and dig in. No need to let it rest, the steak will just get cold and less crisp if it sits. You can spoon any juices that run off right back onto the steak, or sop them up with grilled bread.
* a note on beef: I eat a lot of steak and I've found that some of the best tasting beef is grass-fed from breeds that thrive on grass. My favorite breed so far is Murray Grey. It's not something you can easily find in a store but if you look around for farmers, and find one convenient to you, you'll be very happy you did.
• Simple sides are great with a steak. Try grilled corn with butter and Shabazi N38, and/or make cabbage and apple slaw. And when it's peach season you can always try grilling peaches while you eat dinner so you have dessert ready.
• I've had good luck using this same method with thick cut pork chops and double cut lamb chops.
• I find that the meat always has plenty of juice on its own, but you can always try making a sauce like my dry chimichurri, the flavors are great together.
Food images and recipe © Christian Leue.
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