Lay the steaks on a plate or open container and sprinkle kosher salt on them. Be generous but don't go overboard. Typically ½ teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat is what the experts recommend.
Here's a picture to give you an idea of how much I use:
For ¾ inch steaks like these, I just coat one side.
For thicker steaks, I recommend brining both sides– one side at a time for 2 to 4 hours each side.
You then place them in the fridge uncovered.
The salt immediately begins to pull the juices to the surface where it mixes with the salt and becomes a slurry. Over the course of time, the salty meat juices are drawn back into the steak and if you wait long enough it will absorb deep into the meat.
Here's the same 2 steaks after about 45 minutes:
The thicker the steak, the longer they need to sit in the fridge. I left these ¾ inch steaks for about 2 hours and they were perfect.
No need to rinse the steaks when they are finished.
Some folks might just add a little pepper at this point since they salt is already seasoning the inside but I highly recommend my Texas style rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) on these. It's pretty low in salt and has some other things like cayenne and garlic to really ramp up the flavor. The Texas style rub makes beef really, really happy!
Both sides should be seasoned with the rub.
Leave the steaks sitting on the cabinet for a few minutes while you go get the smoker set up. They need to warm up a little bit anyway after being in the fridge for several hours.
Set up your smoker for cooking at about 225°F if possible.
Use indirect heat and if your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.
The smoke can be any good smoking wood but I recommend cherry if you have it. Other great woods for these are pecan and oak.
Once the smoker is ready, place the steaks on the smoker grate. You can also use a Bradley rack or Weber grill pan to make it easy to transport the ribeyes to and from the smoker.
For electric, gas and charcoal smokers, keep a light wood smoke going for at least an hour but more is ok as long as you have plenty of airflow into and out of your smoker. Wood smokers will continue smoking the entire time by default.
Be sure to use a digital probe meat thermometer such as a Thermapen or the “Smoke” by ThermoWorks so you'll know the very second when the steak gets done so you can remove it from the heat.
Another great tool is the ThermoPop digital pocket thermometers which read in 3-4 seconds (that's fast), are splash-proof and being offered now for only $29. One of my favorite toys.. er, tools;-)
I recommend letting it go to about 120°F since we are going to sear them later and the carryover heat plus the searing should bring it on up to a perfect medium rare (130°F).
Once the ribeyes reach the set temperature (usually about an hour), move it from the heat immediately.
Let the steak rest away from the heat, tented with foil for about 10 minutes to allow the juices to return to center.
Place a cast iron skillet over a high heat burner. Use a little vegetable oil in the center of the pan and get it super hot.
Once the pan is ready, place the steak in the pan and rotate the steak with your tongs to spread the oil around a little.
About a minute each side should do it but keep a close eye on it.
I did some tong magic and seared the sides as well but that's not required
You'll see lots of smoke and this is how it should be. If you have a side burner on the grill, that is a better choice than using a burner in the house.
If you must use the burner in the kitchen oven, just make sure to turn the exhaust hood fan on and perhaps open a couple of windows during this process.
You can also use a screaming hot fire to do this but it's a little less predictable and requires more finesse to get the job done right.. your choice.
Once again, let the steaks rest (no foil tented over them this time) for about 5 minutes and then serve them to your guests with ample sides.