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Barbecue Secrets

Recipe of the week: Cowboy Steaks

Sep 2, 2011

Makes 4 servings

This is pretty close to my favorite steak. The earthiness of the cumin seeds, the sharpness of the cracked pepper, the sweetness of the onion and garlic granules, and the smoky, tart bite of the ground chipotles create an explosion of flavor. Serve whole steaks with beans, a slab of cornbread, and some coleslaw. Alternative serving suggestion: Slice up the steaks and serve them fajita–style with salsa, guacamole, and shredded Jack cheese alongside some warm flour tortillas.

4 big rib-eye steaks, bone in, about 11/2 inches | 4 cm thick

kosher salt (or another fancy coarse salt like Maldon or

fleur de sel) to taste

1/2 cup | 125 mL black peppercorns

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated onion

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic

1 tsp | 5 mL ground chipotle chiles

(if you can’t find chipotles, use the same amount of cayenne)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL toasted cumin seeds

extra virgin olive oil


Place the steaks in a dish or on a large cutting board and let them come to room temperature (it’ll take about an hour). Use a spice mill or a mortar and pestle to give the peppercorns a coarse grinding, or put them in a thick paper or plastic bag and pound them with a hammer or rolling pin until they reach the desired consistency. They shouldn’t be powdery, but more like coarse sand. Generously season the steaks with salt and pepper. Combine the granulated onion and garlic, ground chipotles, and cumin seeds in a bowl. Coat the steaks on one side with the mixture, patting it on so it sticks nicely. Drizzle the rubbed steaks with a light coating of olive oil, turn them over and repeat the seasoning, rub it in, and drizzle some oil on top.

            Prepare your grill for medium direct heat and cook the steaks 4–6 minutes per side for medium-rare. If using a charcoal grill, toss a couple of chunks of mesquite (or a handful of wood chips) onto the coals just prior to grilling. With a gas grill, use a foil pack of pre-soaked chips with holes punched into it with a fork.

            Be sure not to overcook the steaks! Remember, they will continue to cook after they are taken off the heat. Remove them from the grill and let them rest for 4–5 minutes before serving.