Hearst Ranch Grass-fed Steaks, Oven-Roasted Potatoes & All-time Favorite Brownies

steak and potatoes

My mother is worried. This isn’t a new sentiment, I can assure you. Worry, I’m afraid, pervades her daily existence. She’s worried about the plastic wrap in this recipe and would like me to offer you all an alternative. One Thanksgiving, my mother was so worried, she sent me an oven. An oven. She didn’t know how I could possibly make my turkey and stuffing and sweet potatoes with only one oven, and so she sent me an oven.

Last week, my mother became worried about my husband, Ben. She’s worried he might wilt away if I keep feeding him tofu and edamame and beets and eggs. So driven by her worry, my mother sent me 10 pounds of steaks, just, you know, to tuck in my freezer in case an iron-deficient Ben starts looking pale and cold.

But my mother is so thoughtful, too. And a wonderful gift-giver she has always been. Sensitive to my feelings about animals and food-miles, she sent me grass-fed steaks from the Hearst Ranch in San Simeon, CA. I took the opportunity to make this Grilled Grass-fed Ribeye with Balsamic Caper Vinaigrette recipe from the latest Bon Appetit. Damn, steak is good. I’ve forgotten. And this sauce — reduced balsamic seasoned with crushed red pepper flakes and mixed with parsley, capers, shallots and olive oil — is fabulous. It’s such a treat to have our freezer stocked with this incredibly flavorful, humanely raised and relatively local meat.

Mama, worry no longer. Rest assured that the love of my life is beaming, a hearty helping of meat and potatoes certainly to credit. Thank you for the wonderful gift!

raw steaks
Pictured above: Raw, grass-fed ribeyes, rubbed with smoked paprika, garlic, pepper and salt.Note: While this smoked paprika rub adds a nice flavor, I don’t recommend using it for these grass-fed steaks. We’ve cooked the Hearst Ranch steaks twice now, once with the rub, once without, and we preferred the steaks without the rub — a liberal sprinkling of kosher salt brings out the real flavor of the meat. Also, be sure not to overcook these steaks. For medium-rare, try two minutes a side and allow the steaks to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Balsamic-parsley-and-caper sauce:
parsley-caper sauce

Have I not yet shared with you my favorite brownie recipe? I can’t believe that. I discovered this recipe in a Fine Cooking magazine three years ago and have not tried another brownie recipe since. Like the pizza and the muffins and the orange and olive oil cake, these brownies are it.

brownies and milk

Rich Fudgy Brownies
Source: Fine Cooking
Yield = 16 (2-inch) brownies

Note: If you have a scale, I highly recommend using it. I use my Salter digital scale when I make these and they come out perfectly every time.

Also: To make this gluten-free, simply swap the all-purpose flour with almond flour. You’d never know the difference.

8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter; plus more for the pan
15¼ oz. (2 cups) granulated sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
2½ oz (¾ cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
3 oz (2/3 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour or almond flour (for gluten free); plus more for the pan
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. table salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and position rack in the center of the oven. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan or line with parchment paper.

2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar and whisk until well combined. Add the beaten eggs and vanilla and whisk until well blended. In a large separate bowl whisk together the cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt. Transfer butter mixture to bowl with flour and stir with spatula or wooden spoon until batter is smooth.

3. Spread into prepared pan and bake for approximately 37-40 minutes. Insert a pairing knife or steak knife straight into center. If it comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs, the brownies are done. Let cool completely in pan on rack.

Grilled Grass-fed Ribeyes with Balsamic-Caper Vinaigrette
Source: Bon Appetit Magazine
Serves 4

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for steaks and grill
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

4 3/4-inch-thick grass-fed rib-eye steaks
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1. Simmer vinegar in small pan over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Add shallots, 1/4 cup oil, and crushed red pepper; return to simmer. Remove from heat; whisk in parsley, capers, and thyme. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

2. Rub both sides of steaks lightly with oil. Season generously with kosher salt and pepper.

3. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush grill rack with oil to coat. Grill steaks until cooked to desired doneness, about 2 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to plates. Spoon vinaigrette over or serve on the side.


  1. says

    Your mama is looking out for you & your husband! This looks as a wonderful dinner!
    To top of that: lovely brownies! I don’t eat a lot of beef but maybe you have just converted me!!
    Yum, Alexandra!

  2. says

    I’m not big on steak, but this is some pretty gorgeous looking steak! I absolutely love the sauce you made. Since I’m not very good at making steak, I’ll be bookmarking this for a future steak venture!!

    As you know, I like to bake on my blog (lol!) I’m thinkin’ these brownies need someone else to test them out… you know, just to make sure that they’re really the best recipe around!

  3. says

    As always, I love your pictures. I actually went to Hearst Castle about 6 months ago, and they were selling this beef. I’m glad to know that it’s good.

  4. says

    OMG, that balsamic-caper sauce looks so good…and yum on those brownies (I agree with you on chocolate). BTW, in Tip of the Week I just took this down re your potatoes: Is it possible to improve upon Crispy Roast Potatoes (check them out in the Veggie section)? Renee suggests using duck fat instead of olive oil—duck fat, she notes, is closer to olive oil than butter in its fat profile. And, be sure NOT to use a nonstick roasting pan if you want that lovely brown crispy exterior. Let there be duck-fat potatoes!

  5. says

    Can your mother come worry about me…just a little. It all looks so fabulous…and this reminded me of all the times we visited Hearst Castle growing up. Thanks.

  6. says

    Your mother is funny. I’ve been thinking of ordering grass fed, as a few of my friends have, and the beauty of your steak is another push. I know the taste is really different and would love to experience that at home. Great execution on the recipe from BA as well.

    By the way, that picture of you and your husband gave me a jolt. I haven’t thought about that memory of my own in a long time. It’s quite the moment.

  7. says

    My mother worries about everything too. She terrorizes sales people for fun by asking whether ceramics have leaded glaze (the sales people never know, she knows they won’t know, she does it for sport). Mothers. I’ve been curious about the grass-fed beef for a long time, did you notice a taste difference? Grass-fed beef is so hard to find. I’m waiting until I have a freezer big enough to hide a body before I order some – and then I’m buying in bulk.

  8. says

    Uh… Mrs. Mom-of-Ali, I have a party coming up and I don’t think I can manage with one oven… Plus I haven’t had any meat in a while and I’m wasting away… (Talk about food miles!) 😛 It’s been way too long since I’ve had beef, but even if I just finished off a cow, that would still look pretty divine! :)

  9. says

    It’s barely even breakfast time and that steak looks so mouthwatering. The sauce for it looks amazing – I love the capers and the green of the parsley. And those fudgy brownies – this is like the best dinner ever.

  10. says

    Hysterical! Your mom sounds great! And those steaks look absolutely amazing … love, love, love the sauce. I made a similar sauce (minus the balsamic) over a simply roasted cut of beef a couple months ago and I fell in love with it. Will definitely add the balsamic next time and use it on some juicy steaks!

  11. says

    I had to comment again on a previous recipe posted; Zuni Cafe’s Fried Eggs. I just had them for breakfast…again. They are amazing!! I can eat those eggs any time of the day. Mmm…

  12. says

    That is hilarious! I thought my mom was bad – but sending you an entire oven takes the cake. Your steak looks delicious. I’m sure your mother can now sleep well knowing that Ben is well fed and iron-filled.

  13. says

    Aw! You guys are so cute! I think those steaks look wonderful and I will have to try that sauce now. Thanks also for the great brownie recipe, I am right on the verge of making my own any minute now. Those look suitably fudgy. :)

  14. Meredith Osterman says

    Als – Matt made these brownies last night and they are AMAZING. He says it’s the best brownie receipe ever. His exact words were: “these are the brownies I’ve been searching my whole life for”…no joke. MIss you terrible and love staying connected by your blog

  15. Natalie says

    SERIOUSLY–I’m never making boxed brownies again! I just made these last week, my future mother-and-sister-in-law loved them, and I just made them again last night (for me this time!). Amazing!!!

  16. Norma says

    I’ve been looking for a really good brownie recipe lately. This one looks really good. I’m going to try it this weekend. Thanks for posting it.

  17. Trish says

    I realize this post is three years old but trying a new brownie recipe is always in! I was wondering, do you add the sugar, eggs and vanilla while the saucepan is still on the stove (from melting the butter)? My concern was that it would scramble the eggs. Thanks in advance for your assitance. I love your blog!

    • says

      Trish — hi! This is what I usually do: I melt the butter on the stove top, then I add the sugar off the heat and whisk it to combine, and then I add the eggs and vanilla off the heat as well. I always used to worry, too, that the heat of the butter would scramble the eggs, but it never does. Hope that helps. It’s a fantastic recipe. I still to this day have not tried a single other brownie recipe. I hope you like it, too!

  18. Trish says

    Thanks for the quick response. I made these today and you are right. They are fantastic! I can see why you have not tried any other brownie recipes. They are that good!
    Thanks for sharing.

  19. Allim says

    Made the brownies, they were perfect! Then I was naughty and thickly spread blackberry jam all over the next batch, sealed it with your recipe for Black Velvet Frosting (1/3rd of the recipe is just enough) and it was even better!

  20. kate says

    I made this brownie recipe last night & ate 7 of them today. So good. However, just as a sidenote, I had to bake them 20 minutes longer than the time you posted – didn’t know if this was just my oven? I kept worrying they were going to burn but they didn’t – nice & crispy on top, amazingly fudgy in the middle. After the additional 20 minutes, that is.
    Fluke? Or is the recipe wrong?

    • says

      Kate — I love that you ate 7 of them… you inspired me to eat 7 of the blondies I made this afternoon — so good with tea, coffee, dessert. I’m already looking forward to tomorrow. Anyway, I am sorry to hear about timing issues. That’s never fun to deal with. I don’t want to blame your oven, because perhaps my oven is to blame, but I do have consistent results with baking these for about 38 minutes. Rarely do I go over 40. Have you had to bake other things longer than suggestd in recent weeks? If so, it might be worth getting an oven thermometer. Do you have one? It’s a nice way to gauge the accuracy of your oven. If you already have one, then I am sort of stumped, unless you were using a pan smaller than 8×8, which is unlikely. I’m just happy that the top didn’t burn and that they got crispy as they were supposed to. If I think of anything else, I will report back!

  21. LM says

    Thank so much for posting this brownie recipe – I have made them a couple times, and they are absolutely fantastic. I bake mine in a pyrex 8×8 pan and end up having to bake them for another 10 minutes as well.

    • says

      LM — wonderful to hear this. Yes, others seem to have had the same issue with baking time. I should try my 8×8 pyrex pan next time — I always use this dinky black pan that I got from the grocery store, but it’s just what I’m used to at this point. Pan material definitely seems to alter the baking time. Thanks for writing in! So glad you like these.

  22. Christy says

    Alright…where to start…brownie recipe is FAN-FREAKIN-TABULOUS! Yes, those are not even close to the correct spelling and pretty sure are not even real words. I am a fan of 70% dark chocolate so I only tweaked your recipe a little (don’t hate me). I cut back 1/2 cup on the sugar and went up a 1/4 cup on the cocoa powder. Lets just say my taste buds have lived (thanks be to the dessert gods) and gone to brownie heaven! Moist, not too dense and better than any box brand (even a famous European chocolate company box mix) which I love(d) before I found your recipe. Box mix brownies and I are no longer a couple…I have fallen in love with your recipe and long shall we live happy!

    • says

      Oh Christy, so wonderful to hear this! And I could never hate you for tweaking, especially since yours sounds fabulous. I too love intense chocolate flavor, and I have often wondered if cutting back on the sugar in this recipe would be feasible. I am going to give your variation a try next time around. Sounds heavenly! Thanks so much for writing in.

  23. Holly says

    So delicious! I made these for a kids’ party, and they were a hit with big and little alike. I had the longer cook-time issue, too — I think I added 10-15 minutes? I was using a dinky grocery-store pan, too, not Pyrex. (I’ve never gotten around to measuring the temp in my oven — it would definitely not shock me to discover it’s off by a bit.)

  24. Amanda says

    My mom recently gave me a list of old family recipes including a brownie recipe from someone named “your great, great, great aunt mae”. This recipe is almost identical to the one my great aunt was using at the turn of the century. Honestly, these brownies are so good that they are worth passing down for 4 generations. The only difference is that my aunt’s brownies call for 1 cup of flour, which I think is too much after trying these. My husband now tells people that these brownies are “passed down 4 generations good”. Thank you again for another winner. Can you come out with a book please?


  25. Sam says

    Unfortunately this recipe didn’t work for me at altitude (5,280). Big sunken mess. I’ve had other brownie recipes work fine but not this one. Darn. I was really looking forward to a brownie! Thought I’d comment so any other higher altitude bakers will take note.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *