Sunday, July 1, 2012

I made a mis-steak

I wanted a pair of strip steaks for dinner this week so I asked Alexis to buy me a few of them if they were decently priced or a whole strip loin if they had a deal.

"The individual strip steaks were expensive,"  Alexis said upon returning and handing me a huge 15 pound hunk of beef, "so I bought you this instead."

No problem.  We buy primals (whole ribeye, strip loins, tenderloins) and cut them down ourselves often.  You cam save a ton of money per pound trimming your own steaks if you have a good vacuum sealer.  (Warning:  Never use these machines outside.  Why?  Because "nature abhors a vacuum"!  ba-da-boom!)

So anyway, I start on trimming this strip loin.  I'm a bit puzzled at first because neither end seems to have the tough ball that strip loins have.  I cut off the lip which didn't seem to fit a strip loin.  Then there is this extra piece I'm not used to, I'm really getting a bit frustrated at this point.

As I worked this odd piece off of the strip loin, I said, "This is all wrong.  These strip steaks look weird and this thing looks like a spinalis dorsi on a ribeye."

"Oh, I thought you knew," she chimed in, "That IS a ribeye!"

DOH!  I was so embarrassed.  I was expecting a strip loin and when she said "this instead" it didn't register, I thought she meant a whole strip loin instead of strip steaks.

So now I had a whole ribeye with this spinalis dorsi removed.   

The spinalis is that little c shaped piece that wraps around the end of a ribeye steak (see pic below).  This is the favorite piece of the ribeye for many folks because it has a different texture than the rest of the steak and is packed with fat fueled flavor.  It is also called "cap steak", "deckle", and "rib lifter" (Field Guide to Meat - Green).

The spinalis dorsi on a ribeye.

It looked like a flank steak so I figured I would cook it like one.  I just seasoned it with Draper's Moo'd Enhancer and black pepper.  Then grilled it over a 450f degree charcoal grill about 4-5 minutes per pound.  I also threw a chunk of mesquite wood in for a little smokiness.  The mouthwatering aroma of grilled beef filled the house while we let it rest for 10 minutes.

It came out beautifully!  Since we were not expecting to be eating, we had no sides prepared.  Alexis, Trevor, and I stood around the kitchen eating these tender strips of streak right off of the cutting board.

A gentle pull would tear the slices in half so we didn't need utensils.  We sounded like barbarians as we groaned in approval of the rich taste. 

So out of 1 ribeye, we got 9 thick steaks (packaged and frozen for use), one  cap steak, and I used the scraps from the lip to make about 1 lb of fresh ground ribeye steak....

I'm going to be some tasty ribeye steak burgers!

And to not waste anything, I took the fat from the lip and rendered it for about 45 minutes on my gas grill....

and triple strained it through cheesecloth to get about 1 cup of tallow which can be used for a lot of things but we use it mostly for shortening.

Final thoughts on the cap steak
  • Some of the best steak I have ever tasted, it was spectacular.  Yes, it is that good. 
  • Would I do it again (on purpose)?  Yes, but not every time.  As good as it is, I now have 9 center cut ribeyes that will be missing their piece of this muscle.  
Once I got over the anger and embarrassment of my mistake, I have to admit it is pretty funny.  And tasty.


  1. Some of the best meals I've had came from eating my mistakes. Looks like I'm not alone in that. And good advice on the use of the vacuum sealer.

  2. Sometimes the best things come from mis-steaks. Glad it was a flavorful lesson.

  3. I'm not worthy... I'm not worthy!! I swear, that would happen to me and it would have been inedible! lol LOVE that everything turned out so well.. and the steak looks fantastic!

  4. Crazy thing to make a mistake with. But you made a pretty darn good recovery. The beef tallow ideas is fantastic.

  5. Great recovery. I would fess up to it but I doubt I could recover so well.

  6. Great save Chris! The steak looks incredible!

  7. Funny how once you get something in your mind, all words and other evidence are dismissed. sounds like you ended up with real rib eye steaks and a squatting rib roast - great recovery on how to use it and I'm really impressed you rendered the fat - as birders, we mix it with other stuff and use for bird suet. I'm one who prefers the spinalis dorsi if it isn't overcooked.

  8. Spinalis dorsi sounds like a term I should recognize from anatomy...and it's making me anxious that I have no idea what it is. My memory is not what it used to be...but then again, neither is yours apparently. :P

  9. I like that you rendered the fat. Good recovery.

  10. Nature abhors a vacuum! Nice. That all looks delicious--especially the ground ribeye.

  11. I had no idea my favorite part of a rib-eye is called a "cap steak"! Of course when I bought a rib-eye this past weekend I found that my local gourmet butcher no longer carries it...or at least calls it that. I now must buy either a Delmonico, Market or Prime Rib steak. Sigh.

  12. You are so funny Chris. I want to nibble on some of that steak right off the board too!


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