What Is Spencer Steak? And How to Cook It
Chances are, you’re actually already familiar with this cut.
By Fraya Berg for Food Network Kitchen
Fraya is a chef and a contributing writer at Food Network.
Spoiler: different regions of the country refer to the same cuts of beef by different names. This holds true for Spencer steak, which is simply another name for a type of steak you're probably already familiar with. Read on for more info.
What Is Spencer Steak?
Plain and simple: Spencer steak is a West coast term for boneless rib-eye steak. The other names it goes by are Delmonico, beauty steak, market steak and Scotch fillet.
Spencer steak (or boneless rib-eye steak) is cut from a prime rib. For info on prime rib and how to cook it, visit Everything to Know About Prime Rib. A Spencer steak often has the large areas of fat removed, so can be leaner than some rib-eye steaks.
When a rib-eye has the long bone attached, it’s called a Tomahawk steak.
Spencer Steak vs. Rib-Eye Steak
There really isn’t a difference between a rib-eye and a Spencer steak. Both are, in our opinion, one of the best cuts of steak you can buy. They have much more flavor than filet mignon and are much more tender than sirloin steak.
How to Cook Spencer Steak
Buy the Right Thickness of Spencer Steak
Your best bet is to get a steak that’s at least 1 1/2 inches thick.
Dry Brine Spencer Steak
There are two ways to cook a Spencer steak and any rib-eye for that matter: direct heat and the reverse sear method. For both methods, you will get the most flavorful steak if you salt the steak 24 hours before you are going to cook it. Place salted steaks on a rack in a sheet pan and refrigerate uncovered. The salt brings moisture out of the steak, but after a few hours, the moisture is re-absorbed, brining the salt with it into the steak so it seasons the steak all the way through.
Let the Steak Come to Room Temperature Before Cooking
Remove the steak and let it come to room temperature before cooking. Using a paper towel, pat both sides of the steak dry. Wash the rack and sheet pan—you’ll be using them again.
How to Sear Spencer Steak
- Preheat the oven or grill. Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees F. Alternatively, you can also prepare a grill for direct and indirect heat.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over high. Heat a heavy pan like a cast iron skillet over high heat.
- Sear the steak on one side. Brush the steak with 1/4 teaspoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the steak, oiled side down, either on the grill or in the cast iron pan. Cook until one side is deeply brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and sear the other side.
- Finish cooking the steak in the oven or over indirect heat. Transfer the pan to the oven or move the steak to the side of the grill with indirect heat and cook until the steak reaches your desired doneness. We recommend cooking to rare or medium-rare for the best flavor and texture - don't go over medium, 140 degrees F.
- Rest the steak for 10 minutes before slicing.
How to Reverse Sear Spencer Steak
Why would one need to cook steak any other way than the traditional searing method detailed above? If you're looking for slices of steak that are cooked perfectly evenly from top to bottom without any gradient, the reverse sear method is the best choice. Additionally, you don't need to rest steak cooked this way (the initial slow cook allows the juices to stay distributed throughout the meat).
- Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Or prepare a grill for direct and indirect heat.
- Roast the steak in the oven. Leave the steak on the rack in the sheet pan; transfer it to the oven (or on the indirect heat side of the grill). Roast the steak until it's 10 degrees F below your desired degree of doneness (110 degrees F for rare, 120 degrees F for medium-rare or 130 degrees F for medium). Remove it from the oven.
- Sear the steak. Brush the steak with oil and add to a hot skillet or the direct heat side of a grill. Sear on both sides.
- Slice the steak and enjoy.
Recipes for Spencer (Rib-eye) Steak
Spiced rib-eye steaks and cauliflower rice are cooked in just one skillet. Deglaze the pan with vinegar, and you'll get all the roasty toasty flavors distilled into a sauce for the cauliflower rice.
This rib-eye steak recipe uses the reverse sear method on the grill. While the steak is on the low heat side of the grill, you cook the peppers on the high heat side, so they get a good char.
This recipe takes you through the steps for reverse searing a rib-eye using the oven and the stove top. To make it even more clear, there’s a video.
This recipe for Perfectly Grilled Steak uses the conventional grilling method of high heat from the beginning. As an added bonus, it takes you through the steps for rib-eyes, New York strip steaks and filets mignon.
The earthy umami-rich flavor of porcini is the perfect flavor to rub on any steak; this rib-eye proves it. Trying to save time by grinding all the spices at once isn’t a good idea: some will be under-ground and some will be over-ground.