Father's Day is ALWAYS about a big, juicy steak for my guy. And each year it's pretty simple - pick up some fresh Ribeye or Porterhouse steaks, thick and beautifully marbled. Easy, right?
So I arrived at Costco five minutes before they opened today, and there were a hundred people waiting in line for the doors to open. I kid you not! You would have thought it was the day before Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter! Little did I know what was waiting for me!
It was the HUGELY popular USDA Prime event at Costco - who even knew that they have that annually the day before Father's Day? And these people waiting in line RAN for the meat department as soon as they opened the doors - it was like a stampede!
One couple in particular caught my attention - they were JUMPING up and down with joy and exclaiming "I can't believe we got these!" I had to take a peak in their cart to see what the excitement was about - and when they saw that I was looking, they told me I needed to grab some of these "Ribeye Cap Steaks" NOW - before they were all gone! Now, I know how crowd mentality works, so I threw a package in my cart (there were only 3 left at that point). And this was all within 5 minutes of the store opening!
And then I looked at the package, and started asking some questions. $19.99 a pound? OMG! Even the bacon-wrapped petite filets didn't cost this much a pound! And so the couple was kind enough to explain that this is a once-a-year opportunity, and when they're gone, they're gone. Unless your best friend is a butcher, you will never see these! And how these are absolutely the best pieces of beef that you will ever have in your ENTIRE LIFE. Cook 'em low and slow, reverse sear or sous vide. Huh?????
Mama's got some researching to do!
First, let's start with the meat.
Ribeye Cap Steak - or "spinalis dorsi" - the most flavorful and prized premium steak available. (Who knew? I have never seen this on a menu in my life!) More flavor than a Ribeye Steak, but more tender than a Filet Mignon. You know those few precious bites along the outside edge of a great ribeye steak - those bites that looked as if they were going to be tough and chewy, but are actually the richest, butteriest, tenderest, beefiest bits of steak you'll ever put in your mouth. It's admittedly pricey, but after having cooked and served two this weekend, I can guarantee you that you will not find a meatier, more tender cut of beef anywhere. Not in a steakhouse, not in a fancy-pants restaurant. Each will serve two hungry people - it's so buttery and rich that you don't really need a big hunk of it just for yourself. This is a steak to savor bite by bite, not gorge.
Next, what the heck is "Sous Vide?" Once limited to pros, sous vide (pronounced sue-veed) is a cooking technique that uses precise temperature control to deliver consistent, restaurant-quality results. High-end restaurants have been using sous vide cooking for years to cook food to the exact level of done-ness desired, every time. The technique has recently become popular for home cooks, using easy-to-use sous vide precision cooking equipment like Anova or another little trick that I'll talk about below.
Sous vide, which means "under vacuum" in French, refers to the process of vacuum-sealing food in a bag, then cooking it to a very precise temperature in a hot water bath. This technique produces results that are impossible to achieve through any other cooking method. Sous vide cooking is much easier than you might think, and usually involves three simple steps:
1. Set your precision cooker to a set temperature - in this case, 130 degrees. (I don't have the fancy equipment......so I used a heavy stock pot on my stove and monitored the temperature throughout the process. And for the greatest cooking hack ever, keep on reading!
2. Put your food in a sealable bag and place it in the hot water bath.
3. Finish by searing, grilling, or broiling the food to add a crispy, golden exterior layer.
Using sous vide, because you cook your food to a precise temperature for a precise amount of time, you can expect very consistent results. Food cooks in its juices - this ensures that the food is moist, juicy and tender. Traditionally grilled steaks dry out and result in waste. On average, a traditionally cooked steak loses up to 40% of its volume due to drying out. Steak cooked via precision cooking loses none of its volume.
Sealing the foods prevents evaporation and allows for the meat juices and flavor to infuse the meat with the best and beefiest flavor you have ever had!
The advantage to cooking with this technique is that the steak is perfectly cooked, from edge to edge. No part of the meat can possibly overcook, because you are evenly cooking the meat from edge to center. And my head is still hurting just a little because this is really so darn logical - why did I never think of this before? If you know what temp your steaks need to be cooked to be the way you love them - be it rare, medium or well-done - using a hot water bath at a set temperature means that the meat can't possible overcook beyond the place you want it to be! These were the most tender, most flavorful steaks we have EVER had!
Slow cookers and just plain careful monitoring of a stockpot of water on the stove will give you an opportunity to try the technique at home, without having to buy any special equipment. Now, don't get me wrong - if you've got an extra hundred dollars lying around and you like steaks, you might as well buy one of these little contraptions now - because you're gonna love the results and want one soon enough!
BEST COOKING HACK EVER: You can also do it the SUPER EASY way and just pour water heated to 135 degrees into a heavy-shelled beer cooler, put the cover on tight, and let it sit for two hours WITHOUT OPENING UP THE COVER! Once you realize that a cooler is usually just as good at keeping hot things hot as it is at keeping cold things cold, this makes all the sense in the world! Fill up your cooler with water just a few degrees higher than the temperature you'd like to cook your food at (to account for temperature loss when you add cold food to it), seal your food in a vacuum-sealed bag, drop it in, and close the cooler until your food is cooked. It's as simple as that! Have you ever cooked corn on the cob in a cooler? This is the SAME idea! BRILLIANT!
I wanted a real even sear on these babies, so I heated my cast iron skillet to sizzling hot. Add a drizzle of canola oil to the pan - don't use vegetable oil or olive oil, as they have a low smoking temp and they will not work for searing meat at high temps.
Sear each side for 30 seconds, flip and sear for another 30 seconds, and repeat - for a total of one minute each side in the hot skillet. You can also grill these, but I really wanted an even sear, and didn't want to lose even a drop of moisture to grilling.
I added another pat of butter on top of each Ribeye Cap while it was resting - five minutes, and a sprinkle of fresh chives, and dinner is served!
And after watching me go through this entire process for three hours, everyone came running when it was ready and they smelled it. And looked at it. And grabbed forks and steak knives and dove into it. One taste and everyone was moaning in ecstasy - It brought tears to our eyes!
And if you've read all the way thru to this point, I urge you to give both this Ribeye Cap Steak and the Sous Vide cooking method a try - they are life-changing! Having gone thru the process once, it really is so stinking simple, and with results that will blow your mind. We've already changed the way we look at preparing other kinds of steak after this experience!
I'm already a little bit worried about how I will top this next year for Father's Day...