Ribeye is the tastiest cut of meat on a cow is arguably the ribeye steak (my butcher would say skirt steak.) The ribeye steak is full of marbling, which gives the cut intense flavor and tenderness at the same time. Super tender prime rib roast that you order from a steakhouse is just the ribeye steak, whole, roasted slowly.
What can be better than a whole ribeye steak? Enjoying the very best part of the ribeye steak – the cap – the most tender, most marbled section of the ribeye steak. This section is called “spinalis dorsi.”
A ribeye steak comes from the back of a steer toward the steer’s head. It is made up of two muscles: the spinalis dorsi and the longissimus dorsi. These muscles run along the steer’s spine and on top of the ribs.
Because the animal doesn’t use these muscles much while moving around, they stay tender. The spinalis, in particular, is highly-marbled — that is, speckled with fat, which means more flavor in every bite.
If you are anything like me, grilled steak is one of your favorite foods to eat. However, a perfectly cooked steak is not something you can take for granted. Cooking steak and choosing which recipes you use it in depends largely on the cut. Ribeye steak and rib roast have always been my favorite cuts of beef hands down. That is until I had my first ribeye cap steak in New York for a celebratory dinner at an upscale restaurant. Until then, I had never even heard of a spinalis cut or a deckle steak.
Ribeye cap ranks right up there with beef tenderloin in buttery softness. It is the meat on the outskirts of the large “eye” of steak attached to the rib bone. Some beef connoisseurs would tell you it surpasses filet mignon because of its unbeatable flavor.
How do you prepare such a delicacy without ruining taste and texture? The higher grades of beef are often the simplest to cook well, requiring less seasoning, time, and marinade.
List of Items and Ingredients
- Serving platter
- Grate tools – brush, scraper, and metal flipper
- Chimney lighter and charcoal grill with grill rack and grates – Grill grates will help prevent flare-ups as your steak cooks.
- Charcoal briquettes
- Small bowl
- Plastic wrap
- Aluminum foil
- 18 ounces of spinalis steak or 2 ribeye cap steaks – should come rolled and tied
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons Garlic
- 1 tablespoon Killer Hog Hot BBQ Rub or BBQ steak rub of your choice
- Roasted garlic steak butter (needs to be prepared two or more hours ahead of time to cook steaks)*
Directions for cooking your Spinalis Steak
Step 1: Bring your ribeye cap to room temperature before cooking.
This may take up to two hours.
Step 2: Prepare your grill.
Scrape any excess grease and cooking residue off the rack and grate. Use your chimney lighter to heat up your charcoal briquettes. Once the briquettes start to gray over, pour them onto the bottom of your grill. Place the rack and grate on top. Close the lid to heat the grill, opening vents for good airflow.
Step 3: Prepare your steaks.
If the cap steaks are tied then they are already trimmed. Mix your garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and coat the steaks with this mixture. Follow with a generous coating of your barbecue rub.
Step 4: Cook your steaks.
Place your steaks and mash them gently into the grill grates with your spatula. Close the lid to the grill and allow to cook for two minutes. Rotate the steaks about 45 degrees and move them over a little. Clean the area the steaks were sitting on with your scraper. Close the lid and cook for another two minutes.
Step 5: Flip your spinali steaks and apply the homemade garlic butter.
Place a tablespoon of the butter you prepared in the middle of each steak. Close the lid and cook for another two minutes. Rotate the steaks once more about 45 degrees, close the lid, and cook for a final two minutes. This is the stage where you will start checking the temperature of the steaks.
Step 6: For best results, ribeye cap steaks are usually best medium-rare to medium.
125 degrees Fahrenheit is medium-rare, 135 degrees is medium, and 145 degrees is medium-well.
Pro tip: Keep in mind the steaks will heat another 5 degrees after you remove them from the grill.
Step 7: Allow the steaks to rest.
Remove your steaks to a serving platter and tent a piece of aluminum foil over them. Let them sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving them.
Spinali steak can also be purchased straight from the butcher where it is not trussed or rolled up. In its natural state, a ribeye cap comes as a rather thin flap of meat about the size of a flank steak. You can also use direct grilling for this preparation.
Clean your grill grates, and season the steak with sea salt and pepper on both sides. Place the steak and cook for two and a half minutes. Rotate 45 degrees and cook for another two and a half minutes with the lid closed. Flip the steak, cook two minutes, rotate 45 degrees to create aesthetically pleasing grill marks, then close the lid and cook for a final two minutes. Measure temperature as above. When ready, remove to a platter and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.
You can also reverse sear ribeye spinalis.
Season the cap with pepper and Kosher salt. Place hot coals on one half of the grill and place the steaks on the grates on the opposite side. Close the lid. Make sure you have a meat thermometer in place. Flip the steak at about 100 degrees internal temperature. Once the meat reaches 130 degrees, remove it to a platter. Let it rest ten minutes under an aluminum foil tent. While it is resting place, a ballistic griddle on your grill rack and allow it to heat with the lid closed. When you are ready to put the steak on the griddle add a tablespoon of fat (butter or lard) to help form a crust on the steak. Sear for about a minute on each side. Remove your steaks from the grill and allow to rest for about five minutes before serving.
*Garlic Steak Butter recipe
- 1 stick softened butter
- 1/2 shallot, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons Killer Hogs Steak Rub or a steak rub of your choice
Combine garlic steak butter ingredients in a small bowl. Place the mixture on your plastic wrap. Shape it into a small log and wrap it tightly in the plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator until firm or about two hours.
What makes this spinali steak recipe so good?
The feature that should jump out at you first with this recipe is its simplicity. Ribeye cap is a very tender and flavorful cut – it does not require much seasoning or fuss. It is designed to cook perfectly at high temperatures for short periods of time. The garlic butter along with the steak’s exceptional marbling pairs well with savory dishes like grilled Parmesan broccoli, roasted or grilled sweet potatoes or baked potatoes, or summer squash. It also goes with green beans or corn, quinoa, and herbed cucumbers or zucchini. Top it all off with a Cabernet Sauvignon or a spicy choice of Zinfandel and you have a meal fit for kings.
By now you must be ready to cook a fabulous rib eye cap yourself. If you like grilling, this cut is identical to cooking any other premium beef steaks. You do not need a fancy grill or smoker or any other high-tech equipment. Yet the end result will be close to what you can get at a gourmet cuisine. Even better, you can throw many of the side dishes that would go with this cap steak recipe right on the grill as an additional convenience.