Grilled Rib-Eye Steaks with Mouth-on-Fire Salsa

"I buy big, thick steaks to achieve that juicy, rosy medium-rare doneness."

Total Time:
55 min
15 min
40 min

4 to 6 servings

  • For the salsa:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 dried chiles de arbol
  • 8 large tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 3 medium heirloom tomatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 2 red jalapeno peppers
  • 1 green jalapeno pepper
  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed
  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil, for the grill
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • For the steaks:
  • 4 boneless rib-eye steaks (about 12 ounces each and 1 inch thick)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Special Equipment:
  • 3 cups hickory wood chips, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
  • Smoker wood chip box or 9-by-13-inch aluminum-foil pan (if using a gas grill)
  • Make the salsa: Prepare a grill for high heat. In a small heavy skillet, combine the olive oil and chiles de arbol and cook over medium heat, about 4 minutes, or until the chiles are toasted and beginning to blacken. Remove the chiles and set aside. Allow the chile oil to cool slightly.

  • On a large baking sheet, toss the tomatillos, tomatoes, jalapenos and scallions with the chile oil and season with salt. Lightly oil the grill grates with vegetable oil, place the vegetables on the grill and close the lid. Cook the vegetables, turning only once, until they are blackened as much as possible; don't stress out if the tomatoes and tomatillos break open and begin to fall apart-it's a sign that they're cooked through. Aim for these cooking times: 8 minutes per side for the tomatoes and tomatillos, about 6 minutes per side for the jalapenos and about 3 minutes per side for the scallions. Using tongs, transfer the vegetables to the baking sheet and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, let the steaks stand at room temperature, 30 minutes.

  • Trim the stems from the jalapenos and remove the seeds, if desired. Do not remove the charred skins. In a blender, combine the blackened vegetables, the garlic, cilantro, lemon juice and the toasted chiles de arbol and blend until smooth. Season the salsa to taste with salt. (You will have about 5 cups salsa; it will keep for up to 5 days, stored airtight in the refrigerator.)

  • Make the steaks: Reduce the grill heat to medium high. For a gas grill, spread the drained wood chips in the smoker box and close it; alternatively, spread the wood chips in the foil pan. Place the smoke box or foil pan on a lit burner. For a charcoal grill, sprinkle the drained wood chips over the hot coals.

  • Coat the steaks with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. When you see the wood chips beginning to smoke, set the steaks on the grill grate and grill them 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until the meat feels only slightly resilient when pressed with a fingertip, for medium rare. Transfer the steaks to a carving board and let rest, uncovered, about 5 minutes. Serve the steaks with the salsa.

  • Photograph by Ray Kachatorian

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