What You Might Not Know About Ribeye Steak

Ribeye steak on grill
Ribeye steak on grill - Grandriver/Getty Images

Beefy and buttery, ribeye steaks are one of the best cuts of meat that money can buy. The intricate webs of marbling in ribeyes create a delicate lacework of fat that lusciously melts into the beef during cooking, thoroughly infusing the steak with rich flavor and exceptional tenderness. Clearly in high demand — and for good reason — ribeyes can be found everywhere from supermarket chains to restaurants and butcher shops.

Yet despite the popularity of ribeyes, there are probably still a few things about this beloved cut of steak that many may not be aware of. Where was ribeye first offered on a restaurant menu? How does its composition affect the cooking process? And what are some other names it's known by? We answer these questions and more to shed light on this tasty cut of beef. If you consider yourself a connoisseur of carnivorous treats, then read on to learn some more about one of the tastiest steaks to ever hit the grill.

Read more: The 13 Best Steaks For Grilling

Ribeye Was On The Menu At The Country's First Restaurant

Delmonico's steak, fried onion strings
Delmonico's steak, fried onion strings - Delmonico/Facebook

Of course, the delicious glory of meat was enjoyed by people long before modern restaurants ever existed. According to Live Science, evidence of slashed buffalo bones in Ethiopia from over 3 million years ago suggest that ancient humans have been butchering animals long before previously thought. But when did steaks transition onto menus at licensed fine-dining restaurants?

As it turns out, Delmonico's Restaurant in New York City is credited as the first official restaurant (1837) in the US that offered diners a menu. Delmonico's has been specializing in rib cuts ever since it opened. Delmonico's simply seasons its steaks with salt and pepper, bastes them in butter, and then broils them to order, finishing the steaks with a dollop of herbed butter. The restaurant offers a popular bone-in ribeye with various types of butter and sauces to enhance the meal, such as Sichuan peppercorn sauce and black garlic butter.

Ribeye Steaks Are Also Known By Some Other Names

various steaks on wood plank
various steaks on wood plank - Katarzyna Hurova/Shutterstock

It's highly possible that ribeye steaks are being sold at restaurants and butcher shops all around you under different names. While the word ribeye is widely used, the truth is that there are also some variations in terminology that are mostly based on the size of the steak; they are also rumored to be rooted in historical colloquialisms.

Cowboy steaks — which are basically just bigger ribeyes — come with a bone attached. Cowboy steaks clock in at 18 to 32 ounces, and their name is believed to have come from cowboys using the steak bone as a handle while eating. Ribeyes are also called a tomahawk steak when an extra long section of the rib bone is left attached. The only real difference between a tomahawk steak and cowboy steak is the length of the bone: tomahawk steaks have a longer bone. Ribeye steaks can also be known as Delmonico steaks — a nod to the long-running steakhouse in New York City.

Some Of Its Nutritional Information Might Surprise You

ribeye with garlic, rosemary, peppercorns
ribeye with garlic, rosemary, peppercorns - Valentyn Volkov/Shutterstock

Most of us tend to make a lot of assumptions about nutrition — and those assumptions can be shockingly wrong. One of these is that steak is high in protein. And while that is certainly true, it may surprise you to know that there are cheaper options that can give you more bang for your buck. While a single 3-ounce serving of ribeye contains about 20 grams of protein, you can score even more protein by eating a serving of chicken or fish. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that most adults consume around 50 grams of protein every day, but it should be noted that this amount may fluctuate depending on different factors like age, health status, and activity levels.

What's interesting is that even though ribeye has less protein than chicken, chicken still has a potential downside because it tends to contain more sodium. While there's no doubt that our bodies require salt to function, consuming too much can lead to serious health complications like hypertension and heart failure.

It Comes From One Of The Best Primal Cuts

Beef stored for butchering
Beef stored for butchering - Mehmet Cetin/Shutterstock

All of the steaks, including ribeyes, that we end up buying in steakhouses, grocery stores, and meat markets come from what are known as primal cuts. Primal cuts are large sections of meat that are removed from cattle during the earliest stage of the butchering process. They are typically divided into eight different sections: chuck, loin, round, flank, short plate, shank, brisket, and rib. Each primal cut is then sliced down into smaller pieces, known as sub-primal cuts, which we end up cooking at home or eating in restaurants, including ground beef, strip steak, and ribeyes.

The rib primal cut is broken down into some of the most prized cuts of steak available, including prime rib and ribeye. This part of the meat is exceptionally tender because it's not a very active muscle. As a result, the meat here contains intricate strands of fat known as marbling that make it extra juicy and buttery.

Ribeye's Bones Affect The Cooking Process

Tomahawk steak on the grill
Tomahawk steak on the grill - stockcreations/Shutterstock

There are advantages and drawbacks to cooking ribeye steaks that are bone-in or boneless. Boneless ribeyes tend to cook faster, which makes them a more appealing choice when time is a concern. The lack of bone also makes them easier to cook to the desired temperature.

On the other hand, bone-in ribeyes tend to be much juicier because the bone allows the meat to retain more moisture. The downside is that different areas of a bone-in cut will cook at different speeds, depending on their proximity to the bone. One thing's for sure: The bone (or lack thereof) in your ribeye will affect the cooking process, so it's a good idea to adjust your expectations and approach accordingly. If you're unsure of how to achieve your desired temperature based purely on timing and feel, then consider getting yourself a digital thermometer so that you can accurately gauge its level of doneness.

Cattle Diet Affects Steak Flavor

Cows feeding at a farm.
Cows feeding at a farm. - BearFotos/Shutterstock

Most of the cattle in the United States are grain-fed because the corn and soy quickly fattens them up, which is more efficient for mass production. The beef of grain-fed cattle tends to taste sweeter than grass-fed beef, due to the abundance of corn in the grain-fed diet. Grain-fed beef also typically has more marbling and a richer flavor because the corn and soy creates fatter cattle.

Grass-fed diets are more natural for cattle, but it produces leaner beef. Less fat content makes grass-fed steaks drier and chewier. Grass-fed beef has a more mineral-rich flavor that tends to be considered gamier than grain-fed beef. Knowing these qualities can help you select ribeyes that are more to your liking when you're grocery shopping or dining out. It should be noted that grass-fed beef tends to be more expensive, since it takes longer for cattle to gain weight.

It's Prone To Flare Ups

Big flames coming through grill
Big flames coming through grill - Romolo Tavani/Shutterstock

Ribeye is bursting with flavor due to its high fat content. While that certainly has its benefits (like extra delicious steak), it also comes with a cost. That cost is potential flare ups on the grill.

As the fat in ribeyes cooks over the grates of a grill, it will inevitably melt down into the flames. This typically causes a flash of fire that licks upwards back onto the meat, which creates some nice charring and extra flavor. But if the fire below is a little too strong and the ribeye's fat keeps dripping, the flames can quickly grow out of control, leading to a potentially dangerous situation.

It's always a good idea to keep an eye on your grill when you're cooking and never leave it unattended. If a flare up does occur and grows out of control, one of the best things you can do is immediately cover the grill to cut off the fire's oxygen. The lack of oxygen should choke the fire and stop it from spreading.

Pro-tip: Always create two zones when grilling — one with higher heat and one with lower heat. That way, if a flare-up happens on the hotter side, you have a cooler spot to move your food to so that it won't burn.

Read the original article on Daily Meal