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Nolan Ryan's Recipe for Success - and His Big Tex Rib-Eye

At the ripe old age of 10, Nolan Ryan announced to his parents he was ready to get into the cattle business. And he did just that – buying his first calf from a local dairy farmer outside of his hometown of Alvin, Texas.

Fast forward a few decades, and most folks seem to associate Ryan's name with baseball. Pitching in the majors for 27 seasons, Ryan played for the Mets and California Angels before coming home to Texas, pitching for the Rangers and Astros and being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.

But cattle ranching remained a big part of his life, and so did another Texas tradition: barbecue. He's just released the "Nolan Ryan Beef & Barbecue Cookbook: Recipes from a Texas Kitchen"

Ryan worked with executive Texas Rangers chef Cristobal G. Vazquez to develop recipes that combined beef with the distinctive flavors of the southwest.

Ryan spoke with The Texas Standard's David Brown about the reasons behind certain dishes. The first chapter tries to capture the ballpark experience, providing unique and flavorful ways to prepare hotdogs and hamburgers. "It's part of going to a baseball game, I think," Ryan says. "I grew up in that era where, when you went to a baseball game, you ate a hotdog."

Ryan's family was also inspiration for some of the recipes in the new book, including his mother's roast beef recipe. "When I look back on my childhood, there are some very fond memories of Sunday dinners, and that would be one of the meals she would fix," he says.

The book also includes recipes for deserts, salads and sides, as well as grilling tips and Ryan's thoughts on being a cattleman.

Here's an excerpted recipe from "The Nolan Ryan Beef & Barbecue Cookbook."

Big Tex Rib-Eye with Adobo Butter

Boneless rib-eye steaks are delicious because the marbling adds a rich, complex flavor. I believe that the bone-in rib-eye craze is a gimmick for restaurants to make a greater profit on selling beef to the consumer. You will find that the flavor in the rib-eye is in the meat – not in the bone. I don’t buy the hype that the bone adds even more flavor.

Chef Cris recommends you serve the Big Tex Rib-Eye with Adobo Butter over a generous portion of his famous Garlic Mashed Potatoes. I especially enjoy the flavor of the potatoes once they absorb some of the juices of the steak.

Serves 8

Prep time: 10 minutes, plus 1 hour to marinate the meat

Cooking time: 6 to 8 minutes

  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 8 (10- to 12-ounce) boneless rib-eye steaks, 1 inch thick
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 cup (½ pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1) Combine the Worcestershire and garlic in a large glass baking dish and add the steaks, turning to coat well. Cover and place the steaks in the refrigerator to marinate for 1 hour.
2) Chop the chipotle peppers and combine the peppers and adobo sauce with the softened butter in a small bowl. Stir well to blend. Cover and place the adobo butter in the fridge or freezer to firm up.

3) Preheat the grill or a grill pan to high. If using a grill, lightly oil the grill grates.

4) Remove the steaks from the marinade and season them with salt and pepper. Cook the steaks (in batches, if necessary) for 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.

5) Remove the steaks from the grill and let them rest on a platter for 5 minutes.

6) Top each steak with a dollop of adobo butter just before serving.

David entered radio journalism thanks to a love of storytelling, an obsession with news, and a desire to keep his hair long and play in rock bands. An inveterate political junkie with a passion for pop culture and the romance of radio, David has reported from bases in Washington, London, Los Angeles, and Boston for Monitor Radio and for NPR, and has anchored in-depth public radio documentaries from India, Brazil, and points across the United States and Europe. He is, perhaps, known most widely for his work as host of public radio's Marketplace. Fulfilling a lifelong dream of moving to Texas full-time in 2005, Brown joined the staff of KUT, launching the award-winning cultural journalism unit "Texas Music Matters."
Rhonda joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?” She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.
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