USDA Prime Ribeye

USDA Prime Ribeye

AKA #MagicCityBurn vs. Shula’s Steak House

Recently, I was lucky enough to receive a $100 gift card to Shula’s Steakhouse, somewhere that I would never normally eat. Dinner there was quite an experience. I had an amazing glass of XYZin 50 Year Old Vine Zinfandel and their 22 oz bone-in, dry aged, USDA Prime Cowboy Ribeye. Having eaten at Fleming’s and Ruth’s Chris in the past, I’ve grown pretty confident that I do well enough with USDA Choice steaks that I don’t need to spend the extra on USDA Prime. But I was flat out outgunned by Shula’s.

Here’s the evidence:

So I picked up some USDA Prime Ribeye steaks. And I made the decision to write this post, win or lose. Sticking with the Reverse Sear technique I usually use on steaks. Going into this, I see a handful of primary differences.

  • They only get two “Shula Cut” bone-in ribeyes from an entire Rib Roast at Shula’s (because it has two ribs and the rest of the ribeyes don’t meet their standards). I’m cooking USDA Prime boneless ribeyes closer to 1.25″.
  • Their steak is dry aged for some weeks (probably 4 to 7 weeks, I don’t remember specifically). Mine is standard, meat counter wet aged.
  • They sear their steaks. To do this, they cook at a high temperature first and then they move the steak to a cool section to come to proper temperature over time. I presume (although I do not know) that they do this using salt and pepper with a gas broiler that cooks the top of the meat. My reverse sear method warms up the steak and then sears a salt and pepper crust using cast iron from below.

So the combination of the quality of their cut, the aging method of their meat and their precise cooking technique are not easily replicated on my Medium Big Green Egg. They may even present barriers that I can’t exceed on my own. But I’m going to do what I can to get close.

USDA Prime Ribeye


  • USDA Prime Ribeye
  • Salt
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • Cast iron skillet
  • Butter


    Dry brine the steaks:
  1. Blot the steaks dry with a paper towel.
  2. Sprinkle salt liberally on both sides of the steaks.
  3. Leave the steaks out for an hour or so to let them reach room temperature.
  4. While you wait on the steaks to reach room temperature, go ahead and prepare the Big Green Egg:
  5. Setup the Egg for direct heat.
  6. Start fire and preheat grill to a dome temperature of about 300F.
  7. Reverse T-Rex the steaks:
  8. I've covered this cooking method before in other steak posts. Here's where you can read up on how it works and why it works. While you're there, if you cook on a Kamado style grill, go ahead and bookmark the Naked Whiz site. XErt Method

So how’d I do? Clearly, I haven’t replicated the experience of white table dining at home. My $9 bottle of Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin is nowhere close to as buttery-smooth and rich as the XYZin was. And I didn’t have the gravy dish of boursin cream sauce, the grill corn with bacon or potatoes au gratin. But this was, hands down, the best steak I’ve prepared at home. And for $20 a plate, including sides, instead of $100 a plate, the choice between USDA Choice and USDA Prime definitely pays for itself.
You’ll notice that my steak looks more done than I usually eat them. This is because after the steak is removed from the grill, its temperature continues to rise during the rest. And, for this cook, I ended up letting the steaks rest for about 15 minutes. I heard in a steakhouse where I worked once upon a time that people who order their steaks Rare to Medium are ordering a temperature and people who order Medium Well and up are ordering a color. The steak was well seasoned, and plenty juicy in spite of it looking somewhere in the Medium to Medium Well range. Bottom line, the USDA Prime was worth the couple extra bucks and we’ll do this again. New pics will probably be NY Strip or Filet, though.

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