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Joel McNeece: Some memorable ribeye steaks

It all came together almost perfectly for the first clear, crisp, cool Saturday night of the fall. The temperature had dipped into the low 50s, begging for a few logs in the fire pit and the strike of a match. It’s one of my favorite places in the world — a seat on our patio in the fall and winter with a roaring fire blazing.

I had the house to myself, except for our two dogs — just us guys. That’s rare around here. I’m often reminded of the Jeff Foxworthy line when he was describing what it’s like around his house with all daughters — a “naked Barbie Woodstock.” I know exactly what he’s talking about with Lisa and I happily sharing our house with step-daughter Jo Ellen and grands Addi Claire and Ellie Kathryn most of the time. It’s been years since I took a shower at home without a pile of naked Barbies staring from the corner.

All Barbies and pink accessories were packed away for this night, just us guys on the patio and a couple of thick ribeyes for the grill. It was a purely male meal — two steaks, no sides.

I always order my steaks medium in restaurants and try to duplicate that at home best I can. I crank the grill up as hot as it will get so that the steak sizzles as soon as I drop it on the grate. I grill it five minutes per side with the only additive a little salt and pepper before tossing it on.

It was great, but nothing compared to my favorites of all time. I’ve been fortunate to eat a lot of good steaks in my life. Early in life I loved a good ribeye, then went through a New York strip phase before settling in on filets for years (bone-in where available), but lately have come full circle back to the ribeye with all its marbling.

Among the most memorable was the 30 ounce dry-age tomahawk ribeye at Ditka’s in Chicago. The steak is named such because it actually looks like a tomahawk with the long protruding bone from the mammoth hunk of meat that comes with a challenge to finish it from restaurant owner and legendary Chicago Bear Mike Ditka. I was no match for it, but my friend Kent Moore cleaned it down to the bone, not leaving a speck of gristle. His reward? I bought the cigars afterward.

Among the best steaks anywhere for my money is at Doe’s in Greenville. The Signa family seers their steaks in a pan on the stovetop then finishes it in a giant broiler. The juices from the pan are then poured back over the top of the steak when it’s plated.

It’s always cooked perfectly and no matter how many tamales I’ve eaten before, it’s memorable to the last bite.

My all time favorite steak, however, would have to be at Bones in Buckhead, just outside of Atlanta.

I was first introduced to this classic steakhouse years ago on one of the first SEC basketball tournaments I attended with my regular traveling crew of Moore, Dr. Bruce Longest, Casey Clark and Brad Logan.

Lisa and I have been visiting Bones annually for several years now when we spend our anniversary in Buckhead.

They have a 20 ounce dry aged bone in ribeye without the tomahawk that is out of this world. Matched up with their world class wine list and it’s always a night to remember.

I can’t wait for our next visit to Bones, but until then I’ll settle for another cool evening on my patio with a warm fire and sizzling steak.

Joel McNeece is publisher of The Calhoun County Journal in Bruce. You may email him at joelmcneece@gmail.com.