Rib eye with anchovy butter is a bit of a revelation if you’ve never considered just how something as humble as anchovies can utterly transform a meal. Salty, briny, and packed with that mythical umami we’re all talking about—those little fishes are serious magic.
Adapted from Chris McDade | The Magic of Tinned Fish | Artisan, 2021
While this recipe suggests using a rib eye, there’s really no cut of steak that won’t work well with anchovy butter. Ask your trusted butcher for whatever looks the best in their case, and you’ll be happy. While pairing anchovies and steak may seem a bit odd, the two are actually a perfect match. Anchovies are often hiding in your steak sauce anyway, so I’m positive this will become your go-to accompaniment when cooking your favorite cut of beef.–Chris McDade
Rib Eye with Anchovy Butter
For the anchovy butter
- 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 10 anchovy fillets* minced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- Grated zest of 1 lemon (1 to 2 teaspoons) preferably organic
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons ground toasted fennel seeds or ground fennel
For the steak
- 1 1/4 pound rib-eye steak
- 1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Make the anchovy butter
- In a food processor, combine the butter, anchovies, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and fennel seeds. Pulse until all the ingredients are completely incorporated.
- Using a silicone spatula, move the butter to a plastic container with a lid. Use the butter right away or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 6 months.
Cook the steak
- Take the steak out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes before you start cooking. This helps even the temperature of the meat, which makes it easier to cook to the desired doneness.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat and pour in the oil.
- Liberally season the steak with salt and pepper. Not only does this enhance the flavor of the meat, it creates a delicious crust. When the oil begins to shimmer but not smoke, add the rib eye to the skillet. Cook, to your desired doneness, flipping once, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.
- Transfer the steak to a platter and top with as much anchovy butter as you’d like. The heat of the steak will melt the butter and create a delicious pool for resting. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, then slice, spoon some of the melted butter over the rib-eye and serve.
*Why are anchovies so good to use in cooking?That might sound like a silly question but there’s a good explanation for why anchovies can truly transform a dish. Mostly, it comes down to umami—the sensory experience known, in Japanese, as the “essence of deliciousness” or savoriness. And anchovies are FULL of savoriness. While curing, they spend months laying in salt. Enzymes and good bacteria transform the fish into mouthwatering, briny, umami-packed powerhouses, with not much fishy taste left behind.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Originally published June 19, 2021
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Holy flavor, Batman! As somebody who rarely eats red meat (steak is a once-a-year indulgence in this house), I never expected a rib-eye I personally cooked to come out this satiable. But if every steak I ate tasted as umami-loaded as this one, I’d quickly become a regular at my local steakhouse.
Of course, the majority of that flavor came from that easy-to-make anchovy butter. The hardest thing you’ll have to do is wait for that butter to hit room temperature, otherwise, it’s as easy as 1-2-3. That said, shockingly, the fennel seeds I toasted nearly dominated the briny anchovy taste the recipe promised. While this could bode an issue for some, I think the floral, licorice notes played well with the saltiness throughout the rest of the dish.
The rest of the amazing taste came from the steak’s salt and pepper crust. Cooking it on cast iron allowed these staples to create a crisp, caramelized crunch all over the meat. To say I became increasingly sadder the more I ate is an understatement—this rib eye with anchovy butter is truly is a dish to savor and was great with a raw asparagus salad with breadcrumbs, walnuts, and mint.
This rib eye with anchovy butter is a delicious way to cook steak. The anchovy butter is amazing. I was wondering about liberally seasoning the steak with salt and pepper. I don’t usually like using lots of salt. Just like the recipe said it did create a delicious crust. The rib eye with anchovy butter came out perfect.
The anchovy butter had so many different flavors that all blended perfectly. I love anchovies and garlic and lemon. The addition of the fennel made it extra tasty. My husband dipped a Ritz cracker in it as soon as I finished. Mmmmm! The anchovy butter added perfect flavors to the steak and added richness to it too. We had baked potatoes with our steak. Tonight, I’m trying it on salmon.
This was a simple cast-iron preparation for rib eye with anchovy butter that would work well for any cut of steak. I did use a rib eye, though I would repeat this recipe for a variety of cuts. It comes together quickly and is nicely flavored. We served the steak with mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli.
“A great matchmaker,” is how I would describe this glorious recipe for rib eye steak with anchovy butter. Flavoring steak well is tricky—even a daring attempt—especially with a cut like rib eye, whose great beefy deliciousness could be standalone without any help. But in this recipe, the anchovies, garlic, and a touch of lemon and fennel became a perfect steak enhancer. I also loved the idea of letting chilled butter sneak them into the steak while the meat rested. I served the rich steak with a simple salad of dandelion greens tossed with lemon juice and olive oil, and sourdough bread for cleaning the plates.
The anchovy butter was also great for tossing baked baby potatoes and pasta in. To freeze the leftover, I measured out 1-tablespoon portions with a small scoop.
We absolutely loved this rib eye with anchovy butter! I toasted my fennel seeds in my cast-iron before cooking the steak, which helped heat up my pan before cooking the steak. It only took me a couple of minutes on high heat before my oil was shimmering and ready for the steak. I seared each side for 5 minutes, which resulted in a beautiful crust from all the cracked pepper and salt, and let it rest for 10 before slicing into a perfectly cooked medium-rare steak.
The butter is to die for. It enhances what would be just an ordinarily delicious steak to a level of homemade gourmet. The butter is such a simple decadent treat. We are going camping in Arches National Park this summer and I can’t wait to cook this over the fire with my friends and treat our tired bodies to this lavish butter. This meal will impress any guest. I only cooked one steak that was slightly less than one pound, and it was plenty enough for the two of us.
I also halved the butter recipe and still have a lot leftover. I think if you’re making more than two steaks and plan on using the butter in other dishes as well then making a full two sticks of anchovy butter or even more would be ideal, otherwise a halved recipe is perfect for one to two steaks or one steak and some additional dishes. I served it with asparagus that I cooked in the leftover fat from the pan along with chopped garlic, topped the asparagus with butter at the end, and some lemon juice as well. I also served it with homemade fougasse bread.
Rib-eye is my favorite steak, so I was all over this recipe for rib eye with anchovy butter. The anchovy butter sent it completely over the top. It is a perfect balance of anchovy, garlic, lemon, and fennel. Lucky for us that it keeps and can be frozen, I can have a stash all of the time. I prefer to do steaks on the grill, but this cast-iron method worked well and both steaks came out nicely done with a good salty crust. The steaks served three of us, as we also had the baked shrimp with creole sauce and the German potato salad. For the remainder of the butter, I tossed it with penne pasta, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, and shredded roast chicken for a sublime pasta dinner. This anchovy butter is a total keeper!
Big fatty juicy ribeye is my favourite meal!