“Salt meat as soon as you get home from the butcher.” This is advice from Michael Ruhlman, prodigious chef, cookbook author, and someone who knows what he’s talking about when it comes to making food delicious.

The second chapter of Ruhlman’s Twenty (20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, a Cooks’ Manifesto) is entitled ‘Salt.’ Ruhlman writes that seasoning is a critical kitchen skill, maybe even THE critical skill, and by seasoning he means salt. Salt is the most important seasoning in the kitchen, and learning how to salt is a critical skill.

As soon as you get home from the butcher, salt the meat.

But before I could salt the meat, I opened the door to our local butcher shop, chatted with the butcher, selected, and purchased a AAA Alberta-Beef Bone-in Rib Steak. This cut stands out for me when I want a proper feast of char-grilled beef.

A Bone-in Rib Steak on a cutting board before it’s seasoned.

A seasoned Bone-in Rib Steak on a cutting board.

Check out the photo of the unsalted steak and see how well-marbled this grade and cut is. Compare the freshly salted steak to the photo taken 45 minutes later. See how the salt has pretty much dissolved on and into the meat? I recommend coarse Kosher salt. I use a 50/50 blend of coarse salt and coarse pepper for steak.

As the salted meat rests, and comes up to room temperature, set up the sides and the charcoal grill. I use the Lodge Sportsman’s grill at home and when I’m camping to achieve a sizzling charcoal sear on meat and vegetables. This flexible and sturdy bit of outdoor culinary gear reminds me of the Hibachi we used to grill meat while camping when I was a kid. The key is the intense heat generated as charcoal burns (either lump or briquettes). This is what gives the steak its delicious, seared crust.

Chimney starter with briquettes next to it on a grill.

To launch the charcoal, fill a chimney-style starter with briquettes or lump charcoal, crumple a page from yesterday’s news into the cavity in the bottom of the chimney and light it up. It takes about half an hour to get the charcoal glowing red. Once that happens load the grill and let it warm up to cooking temperature. This will take at least five minutes.

While this is going you can prepare your sides. My choice was air-fried chips and a side of Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli) with oyster sauce. The chips were cut on my nifty countertop chip cutter and fried in the air fryer with a tablespoon of canola oil and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. They took thirty minutes at 400 F. At the same time, I brought a 4-litre pot of salted water to boil and dunked the gai lan in the boiling water the minute I took that steak off the grill. Three to five minutes of boiling then drain, dress, and serve alongside the chips and steak.

Choose whatever sides you like. Often when camping, we fill packets of heavy aluminum foil with slices of potatoes, carrots and onions and cook them on the grill half an hour ahead of the steak, turning every five minutes or so. Suit yourself. I wanted crispy chips and some bitter greens this trip.

Seasoned steak cooking on the Lodge Sportsman’s grill.


      • Cutting Board(s)
      • Sportsman’s Grill or alternate charcoal grill
      • Charcoal briquettes or lumps
      • Chimney-style starter for charcoal
      • Newspaper for lighting (or your alternate choice to get the charcoal lit up––my strong preference is NOT lighter fluid.)
      • 18” steel tongs for moving charcoal and turning steak
      • 6-litre saucepan
      • Spud cutter
      • Air fryer
      • Steak (butcher) knife

Celebratory Char-grilled Steak Dinner for Two


      • A 600+ gram AAA Rib Steak Bone-in (preferred)
      • Coarse salt and pepper
      • 500 grams Gai Lan (or whatever side vegetable is your favourite)
      • 3 medium Potatoes, cut into french-fry sized julienne
      • 1 tablespoon Canola Oil
      • 2 tablespoons Oyster Sauce (for a drizzle over the Gail Lan)


1. Visit your favourite butcher and select a celebration-worth piece of AAA Beef.
2. Place the steak on a clean cutting board as soon as you get home and sprinkle both sides of the steak with 50/50 coarse salt and pepper. (This assumes you will be cooking the steak within an hour.)
3. Let the steak rest and come to room temperature.
4. Start the charcoal in the chimney, and the countdown timer.
5. Prep the vegetables and potatoes.
6. Set up the air fryer and bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the vegetables.
7. At twenty minutes, start the potatoes in the air fryer at 400F. These should take about 30 minutes.
8. At about 30 minutes the charcoal should be red hot and covered in ash.
9. Load the charcoal in the grill and let it pre-heat for five minutes.
10. At 20 minutes on the timer place the steak on the grill.
11. Give it two minutes then rotate it.
12. Another two minutes and turn it over.
13. Another two and rotate it.
14. Check the temperature, when it reads 130 F, your steak will be medium rare.
15. Remove to a clean cutting board to rest.
16. Put the vegetables into the boiling water for five minutes.
17. Stir and check the potatoes.
18. Dish up potatoes, drain vegetables, and slice the steak into strips for sharing.

After the first bite of rib steak, my wife Kathy said, “This is now my favourite way to have steak. Period.”

I rest my case.

Pass the salt. Please.

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