The king of all steaks is the ribeye cap, or spinalis dorsi. Paired with simple but luxury ingredients, it’s truly a meal fit for a king.
When talking about the Spinalis Dorsi, Dr Davey Griffin, a meat science professor at Texas A&M University always qualifies people into one of two groups – those who eat the Spinalis first, and those who save it to be savored at the very end of their meal.
The Spinalis is perhaps better known by it’s more common name of Ribeye Cap. It’s the part of the ribeye steak that curves along the top. And depending on where along the rib it was cut, it will either be a generous amount, or barely there at all.
This is a great photo demonstrating the position of a ribeye cap muscle on the steak. It also happens to be one of the most generously portioned examples I’ve ever seen! Basically, you want to pick the steak that looks like this from the behind the counter. When separated, the cap is quite thin, similar to a flank or flat iron steak, and should be grilled hot and fast.
The ribeye cap is significantly tastier than the other muscles that comprise a ribeye steak. In fact, true meat nerds consider it to be THE tastiest cut on the entire steer. The best. The unbeatable. The king. The problem is that in order to get the cap by itself, the whole ribeye steak must be sacrificed, and few places are willing to do that. So, it can be pretty difficult to track down.
Where to get ribeye cap aka spinalis dorsi:
While ribeye cap probably isn’t in your local grocery store, it’s not impossible to obtain. Luxe purveyors like snake river farms offer whole intact cap steaks for purchase online. Even easier (and arguably more economical), you could purchase a whole ribeye roll (many groceries and bulk store like Costco sell these) and cut it yourself. Here’s a handy video guide on how to do that:
It’s befitting for the king of all steaks to be paired with a few perfectly balanced ingredients which enhance the glory of the cut but know they aren’t the star of the show. Few things can elevate a steak as much as salt and butter. So what if you pimped the salt and butter? Here it is, my friends, the salt and butter combo of your dreams:
Coarse kosher salt flecked with porcini dust and scented with the most incredible truffled aroma. Not forgetting onions which have been cooked down for a full hour in a pan, only to be suspended in richly flavored Irish salted butter.
Pair it with some simple sides, I promise this will be one of the greatest steak experiences your tastebuds have had to date.
Grilled Ribeye Cap aka Spinalis Dorsi
- Yield: serves 4
1 x ribeye cap, about 18 oz
FOR THE ONION BUTTER:
1 stick good quality butter at room temperature
2 yellow onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
FOR THE TRUFFLE SALT:
2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon porcini powder
1/2 teaspoon black truffle oil
- To make the onion butter: Peel and thinly slice the onions. Add the oil to a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, and add the onions. Add the salt and balsamic vinegar, stir. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 45-55 minutes, until the onions have turned a deep caramel color and reduced down. Allow the mix to cool. Add the onions to the softened butter, and mix well to combine thoroughly. Place the mix onto a sheet of plastic wrap and fold one side over. Grasp the sides and push away from you – this action should twist the sides closed and form the butter into a tight tube. Place into fridge to firm up. Unused butter can be stored like this for up to a month.
- To make the truffled salt: In a bowl, place the salt and porcini powder. Drop in the truffle oil, then mix to combine. The salt will develop the texture of slightly wet sand but the oil should disperse evenly with mixing. Store salt in an airtight container. This salt is best made and used the same day, before the aroma of the truffle weakens.
- Prepare a grill for high heat grilling, 450f or more.
- If necessary, trim away any excess fat from the ribeye cap, being careful not to cut away any meat. Pat the surface dry with a paper towel, and immediately before you are ready to grill, season generously on both sides with salt.
- Lay the steak directly over the hottest part of the grill. Cook, turning every 1-2 minutes, until you reach an internal middle temperature of 130f.
- Once at temperature, remove the steak from the grill, and covered loosely with foil. Allow to rest for 12-15 minutes.
- Once rested, slice the steak into strips and arrange on a plate. Dot small knobs of the caramelized onion butter over the steak, then top with a sprinkle of truffled salt. Serve immediately.