Q: Chef, My husband likes New York strip and my brother is a rib eye fan. Can you give some insight on what the best steaks to grill are?

A: Well, we just completed an extensive study on steak for our restaurants and after tasting more than 40 steaks and visiting cattle ranchers all over the country, I think we have found the perfect steak. We partnered with Aurora Beef in Illinois, and they are allowing us the select from the top one-third of their stock.

When shopping at your local butcher, you will need to look closely at the marbling of the meat. In general, the better the marbling, the better the steak will be. As for the maturity of the animal, the younger the animal, the whiter the fat is in the steak. If the fat looks yellowish, it is probably because the animal is older.

While most people go for the filet, I think the rib eye is the best. The strip, porterhouse and T-bones are good, but nothing beats a bone-in rib eye. The balance of marbling and meat is unsurpassed. If you can get them bone-in, then you are in Steak Heaven! The recipe below is simple. If you have a great steak you do not need much else. All you need is just enough salt and pepper to bring out the natural flavor of the beef.


Ingredients (Dinner for Two):

2 20 oz. rib eye steaks, ¾-inch to 1-inch thick

4 T coarse sea salt

2 T fresh ground black pepper

Nutrition Facts:

59 calories per ounce

3g fat per ounce

6.5g protein per ounce


Pull your steak out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature at least an hour before grilling.

Fire up your grill nice and hot! If you do not have a wood-burning grill, pick up some hickory or cherry wood chips and soak them in water for about an hour before grilling. Place them right on the grill, leaving room for the steaks.

Rub the salt and pepper into the meat, making sure to put a good, even coat on both sides. Most people under-season their steak. Do not be shy!

Place the steaks on the grill at a 45 degree angle on a 2 o’clock to 8 o’clock line. Pull the lid down and allow the smoke to build up from the chips. When the grill marks begin to set in on the sides of the steak (2 to 3 minutes), turn the steaks to the opposite angle at 10 o’clock to 4 o’clock. Continue to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Repeat the process on the other side of the steak. At this point, depending on how hot your grill is, you should be at a perfect rare steak. Doneness of steaks will be determined by how hot the grill is and by how thick the steaks are. A great steak should always be thick and rare. When eating, it should melt like butter in your mouth.

If you like your steak a little more done, add an additional 1 to 2 minutes to each set of grill marks. This should have you just about at a medium. But before you cook your steaks to this temperature, try eating it rare first. Please!

Chef John Johnson is River City Casino executive chef. Do you have a recipe request for Chef John? Email him at John.Johnson@rivercity.com.