EF Family Treasured Cookbook: Uncle Jack’s Steak Recipe

Everlasting Footprint Family Treasures-Cookbook-Recipes

In our monthly installment of our series about treasured family recipes, compiled in our Everlasting Footprint Family Cookbook, Cortni Merritt shares her uncle’s recipe for mouthwatering grilled steaks. For this Super Bowl XLIX, light the grill and remember your loved ones’ legacies.

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Family Grillmaster, Uncle Jack

My uncle, Jack DeVane, was the host of legendary cookouts. His guests’ drink glasses were always full, and there was always food available. No matter where Jack went, laughter followed. He loved to bring out the best in people. He loved to share stories. He loved the energy when people gather. Trips to Aunt Penny and Uncle Jack’s house were always full of laughter, fun, and good food.

My Aunt Penny is a fabulous cook and makes dreams come alive in the kitchen, but Uncle Jack handled the grill. Known for his burgers, his rib roasts, and his barbecued chicken, Jack often employed the trick of using wood while grilling to flavor meats. He preferred oak, and because he took his grilling recipes seriously, his grill allowed him room to use entire logs. (But family members with smaller grills report that wood chips also work.)

First, Uncle Jack would soak the wood in water for 10-15 minutes, before setting it out to drain the excess. The trick, he shared with my brother once, is to keep them semi-soaked before adding them to the fire. Sometimes, he would use mesquite chips to add a more distinct flavor.

 Uncle Jack’s T-Bone Steak Recipe

What Uncle Jack was really known for, more than anything else, was his recipe for grilling steaks.

Very particular about his steaks, Uncle Jack would start with the best cuts of meat. He had his favorite local meat market, where they would cut him t-bone or porterhouses 1.5 to 2 inches thick. My great-grandmother sold a specialty seasoning, Rawleigh Pepper, which Uncle Jack swore by, and he would use only that pepper and a little Kosher salt to season his steak before grilling. He believed that simple is best.

Also very particular about his grill heat, Jack always cooked over gas. He grilled over high heat so that the steak would be fast cooked with a rare or medium-rare center. That was his idea of the best way – the only way – to eat a steak. Although, he would grill it to whatever done-ness someone wanted – Jack was always the most gracious of hosts.

Uncle Jack thought that the only way to eat a steak was medium rare

Uncle Jack’s T-bone Steaks

Steak Recipe Ingredients:

4 T-bone steaks, 8 ounces apiece

2 Tbsp Rawleigh Pepper

1/2 Tbsp Kosher salt


Steak Recipe Instructions:

Season heavily with Rawleigh Pepper and Kosher salt on both sides, and let sit for 2 – 5 minutes.

Heat the grill until it has an intense heat with a low flame. Grill for 4 minutes and flip, then grill for 4 minutes again for a medium-rare to medium steak. If the person prefers a little more well-done, Uncle Jack would advise you to flip the steak a second time and cook it for another 3 minutes. Don’t flip steaks more than twice.

Uncle Jack liked to make a big statement. Part of that was the idea that every dinner, every meal with family and friends, should be an event. He believed in having a well-balanced and filling meal, so a steak generally came with at least three sides – including the biggest baked potatoes he could find, crisp salad full of fresh vegetables, and steamed artichoke. And of course, my Aunt Penny always had some sort of dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth afterward.

Whether you were coming for a planned visit or just dropping by, there was always something for you if you were a friend of Jack DeVane’s. He was a man who knew the secret to a great grilled steak recipe, as well as one of the many secrets of life: that laughter brings people together.


In Loving Memory of Jack DeVane

About Cortni Merritt

Managing Editor, Cortni Merritt, MA, reads everything she comes across. She has degrees in both psychology and English, and has been a composition instructor, and a copywriter for lawyers, a coordinator at a dating service, and a property manager of apartments. Cortni makes it her mission to read people's stories.

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