I have long been fascinated by the ribeye cap steak at Salt & Char, the high end steakhouse in downtown Saratoga Springs, NY. When Bobby Flay proclaimed it the “best thing I ever ate” on a recent Cooking Channel show, I decided it was time to try making this dish at home. Luckily, it was holiday season and I was able to get a nice deal on a large-end half rib roast at a local market.
The rib cap is a layer of tender, marbled flesh on the outside of the roast, separated from the rib eye by a layer of fat. It’s hard to find at retail because, as my butcher explained, you have to compromise the rest of the roast to harvest it. Luckily I had some compliant diners who were willing to participate in my experiment.
My rib cap weighed 8 ounces when removed. (Salt & Char advertises theirs as 9 oz. which means they get two servings from a full prime rib. Maybe it comes from a larger cow, or includes more of the interior fat.) Following the technique demonstrated by Chef Braden Reardon on the TV show I butterflied and trussed it, then cut across the roll to create 4 appetizer steaks. I followed the Salt & Char saucing ingredient list to make a compound butter out of beurre noisette (clarified from a 4 oz stick), 1 t chopped fresh rosemary, ¼ c roasted garlic cloves, ¼ c chopped red onion and a bit of salt and pepper. This was pureed with an immersion blender and allowed to harden slightly.
The steaks themselves I cooked off in a very hot cast iron skillet with Kosher salt. 2 minutes per side and 5 minutes resting time produced a nice medium rare. The result was very popular: tender with lots of beefy flavor. It probably wasn’t as good as Salt & Char’s dish, but it also wasn’t $78, which they charge for the 9 oz rib cap made with Wagyu beef.
And as to the rest of the rib roast, the absence of the rib cap made no difference in presentation or accceptance. It looked and ate like a standard prime rib roast. So, no reason not to try this yourself. Just be sure to leave a full layer of fat on the exterior of the roast so you won’t lose that lovely crispy crust.