Butter-Basted Rib-Eye With Crunchy Fennel Salad

September 12, 2019 Updated: September 15, 2019

What do these classics have in common: Duck confit and frisée. Breaded veal cutlet and tomato-arugula salad. Barbecue and pickles. Chicago-style hot dogs and this sassy little steak and salad dinner. Rich marbled meats are extra-delicious when served with cool, crunchy, acidic vegetables. It’s a fact, and the combo never gets old.

Makes 3 to 4 servings

  • 1 bone-in rib-eye steak, 2 inches thick (about 2 pounds)
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, 3 smashed, 1 finely grated
  • 2 or 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 3 oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • Aleppo pepper, flaky sea salt, and olive oil, for serving

If you think of it ahead of time, season the steak on all sides with salt and pepper and refrigerate, uncovered, for a few hours or up to 2 days. If not, no biggie. Season now and carry on.

Heat an 8- or 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add enough oil to evenly coat pan with no bald spots and add steak. Cook, turning every 2–3 minutes, until a dark crust has formed on both sides and steak is very rare; a thermometer inserted dead center should register 115 degrees F, 12–15 minutes. Turning the steak frequently will let you develop a gorgeous crust on the surface without creating thick strips of well-cooked steak, which is what can happen when you sear it very hard on one side and then the other. Plus, it will cook more evenly and in less time because the interior is being warmed gradually from both sides.

Reduce heat to medium and add butter, 3 smashed garlic cloves, and rosemary. Tilt the skillet toward you and scoot the steak to the far end of the pan so that the garlic and rosemary slide down into the foaming butter pooling at the front edge. Holding the skillet’s handle with your non-dominant hand, use your other hand to spoon the butter up and over the steak repeatedly for 1–2 minutes, or until internal temperature hits 120 degrees F for medium-rare. Transfer steak to a platter and let rest 15 minutes for juices to redistribute; temperature will climb a few degrees from carry-over cooking.

While steak rests, in a medium bowl, whisk together grated garlic clove, anchovies, and vinegar and season with a big pinch of salt. Whisk in 1/3 cup olive oil, then taste and season with salt and pepper. The dressing should veer on the punchy, acidic side.

Trim off dried-out woody ends of fennel stalks. Remove tough outer layer from fennel, then halve each bulb lengthwise through core. Cut a little V in root end to remove thickest part of core. Place each half cut side down and slice crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide pieces, working from the tender tops all the way down to the stem end, and including the inner part of the core and fronds, which will give the salad a range of textures. Add fennel to bowl with dressing and toss to coat. 

Cut steak away from bone and then slice against the grain into 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Top with fennel salad, some Aleppo pepper and flaky salt, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve the bone, too, of course.

Recipe reprinted with permission from “Where Cooking Begins: Uncomplicated Recipes to Make You a Great Cook” by Carla Lalli Music. Published by Clarkson Potter. 

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