Technique: Little Alley Steak’s Tony Manns Jr. on grilling ribeyes

Use a combo of charcoal and wood to create a hotter fire, and never press down on the meat
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Ribeye
Photograph by Greg DuPree

“I like a steak with personality,” says Tony Manns Jr. To him, no slab of meat fits that profile better than a ribeye, characterized by a generous marbling of fat that adds rich, robust flavor and juiciness. At the butcher, Manns chooses cuts at least one and a half inches thick (anything thinner will easily overcook).

Before grilling, let the steaks sit unwrapped at room temperature for at least 10 minutes—“it’s like opening a fine wine,” Mann says; “you need to let it breathe”—then season with salt and pepper (¾ to 1 teaspoon of salt per pound). He grills with a combo of charcoal and wood (pecan and hickory are his favorites) for a fire that burns hotter than standard home gas grills. Don’t press down on the steaks while they sear; you’ll skew the shape and dry out the meat.

Manns finishes his steaks with a garlic-thyme butter. For six steaks, melt two sticks of butter over low heat. Slightly smash the unpeeled cloves of a head of garlic and add to the pan, along with six sprigs of thyme. Cook until cloves are softened, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Drizzle over steaks, mounding some of the cloves atop each.

Is dry-aged worth it?
Wet-aged steaks are vacuum-sealed for weeks, giving the tissues time to soften. But if you can afford to spring for a dry-aged, bone-in cut, go for it. Dry-aging beef in a temperature- and humidity-controlled room tenderizes and concentrates the flavors and brings out a funky, blue cheese–like umami.

The Breakdown
Difficulty: 2 out of 5 Ribeye 1  Clean the grill grates and light a charcoal fire, arranging coals and wood chips on one side.

Ribeye

2 Liberally season steaks on both sides with kosher salt and black pepper, patting the seasoning gently into meat.

Ribeye

3  To achieve diamond grill marks, start the meat on the hottest side of the grill with the steaks at a 45-degree angle to the grate. Cook for 2 ½ minutes, then rotate steaks 90 degrees and cook for 2 ½ minutes longer. Keep the lid closed with vents partially open while cooking. Flip steaks. Cook for 2 ½ minutes with the meat at a 45-degree angle to the grate. Rotate steaks 90 degrees and move them to the side with lower heat; cook 2 ½ minutes longer (or until done).

Ribeye

4  Grill masters know medium-rare by touch. Not as confident? Use an insta-read thermometer—the internal temperature should be 135°F. Never check by cutting into the steak; you’ll lose essential juices.

Ribeye 5  Transfer steaks to a platter, and let rest for 10 minutes to allow juices to reabsorb into meat. Finish with garlic-thyme butter.

Bonus Recipes

Spice-Rubbed Filet Mignon
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup ground black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
1/4 cup onion powder
6 sprigs thyme, roughly chopped
6 filet mignons

Thoroughly clean grill grates. Remove meat from refrigerator and unwrap at least 10 minutes before cooking. Light a charcoal fire, arranging coals or wood chips on one side.

In a small bowl, mix together salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and thyme. Sprinkle mixture liberally on both sides, and pat gently into meat.

To achieve diamond grill marks, start steaks on the hottest side of the grill with grates pointing to 11 o’clock; cook for 2.5 minutes. Rotate steaks so that grates point to 5 o’clock, and cook for 2.5 minutes longer. Keep lid closed with vents partially open while cooking. Flip steaks. Cook for 2.5 minutes with grates at 11 o’clock. Move to side with lower heat; cook 2.5 minutes longer (or until done) with grates at 5 o’clock. Use an insta-read thermometer to test for doneness—the internal temperature should be 135 degrees Fahrenheit for medium-rare. Transfer to a platter ,and let rest for 10 minutes to allow juices to reabsorb into meat.

Makes 6 servings

Grilled Marinated Hangar Steaks
1 cup olive oil
1 cup sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh garlic
1/4 cup sriracha sauce
6 sprigs thyme, leaves only
3 to 4 pounds hangar, flank, or skirt steaks

Place steaks in a nonreactive container. In a food processor or blender, combine olive oil, sesame oil, garlic, sriracha, and thyme leaves; puree until blended. Pour over steaks, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Remove, blot off excess liquid, and let steaks sit at room temperature at least 10 minutes before grilling.

Thoroughly clean the grill grates, then light a charcoal fire, arranging coals or wood chips on one side. To achieve diamond grill marks, start steaks on the hottest side of the grill with grates pointing to 11 o’clock; cook for 2.5 minutes. Rotate steaks so that grates point to 5 o’clock, and cook for 2.5 minutes longer. Keep lid closed with vents partially open while cooking. Flip steaks. Cook for 2.5 minutes with grates at 11 o’clock. Move to side with lower heat; cook 2.5 minutes longer (or until done) with grates at 5 o’clock. Use an insta-read thermometer to test for doneness—the internal temperature should be 135 degrees Fahrenheit for medium-rare. Transfer to a platter, and let rest for 10 minutes to allow juices to reabsorb into meat.

Makes 6 servings

Tony Manns Jr.Tony Manns Jr.
Atlanta native Manns is executive chef of Roswell’s Little Alley Steak, part of the F&H Food Trading Group that has taken hold of the North Fulton dining scene over the past three and a half years. Since opening in 2011, this charming steakhouse has carved out a devoted following thanks to its wide selection of wet-aged, dry-aged, and USDA prime cuts. Before running Little Alley, Manns earned a degree from Le Cordon Bleu in Tucker and later made the rounds in kitchens like Veni Vidi Vici and C&S Seafood and Oyster Bar.

Illustrations by Joel Kimmel

This article originally appeared in our August 2015 issue.

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