Making a perfectly grilled steak is more complex than simply selecting a slab of meat and cooking it until it seems done. Below are some tips for making perfect grilled steaks – have yours for dinner tonight!
1. Think about Thickness
Nice steakhouses generally sell cuts that are 1 ½” to 2” thick. Grocery stores usually sell thinner cuts, but remember a thicker cut can often be customized upon request. (Just ask!) Thicker steaks are ideal because thinner steaks can get well done in the middle too quickly. If using a thinner steak, try the turntable method: Season the steaks on both sides. Dry them with a paper towel and coat with butter or oil. Cook the first side, or the A side, on the hottest part of the grill with the charcoal directly below the cooking surface and the lid off. Every 30 seconds, rotate the steak slightly like a vinyl record on a turntable. When the steak is a uniform dark brown with no grill marks, flip the steak to the B side and only cook for one minute – long enough to kill contaminants but not too long to overcook.
2. Pay Attention to Cuts and Grades
For flavor and tenderness combined, ribeye is thought to be one of the best cuts. Ribeyes are also among the most expensive cuts, along with porterhouses, T-bones, strip steaks, and cuts from the tenderloin. Less tender but still flavorful cuts include sirloin, round, flank and chuck. Filet mignon, on the other hand, tends to be less flavorful but more tender. Chateaubriand falls under this category also.
When it comes to grades of meat, prime refers to the grade of meat you’ll typically find in the best steakhouses. Prime beef has thin, hairline grains of fat that weave through the fibers of protein called marbling. After prime, the next grade is choice. Choice meats are sold in grocery stores, but it’s best to consult the butcher instead of grabbing whatever you see at the meat counter. A butcher can help you select the thickness, cut and grade that works best for you.
3. Prep the Steak
Think about building flavors as you go along. This can be achieved by starting with a dry blend (garlic salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper) and later basting with butter and herbs. The dry mix goes on before the steaks hit the grill, and the herbs go on in a bundle or bunch, using the end of a wooden spoon or dowel or kitchen twine tied in a bunch. Woody herbs like rosemary, sage and thyme release their oils – adding flavor – as the meat is cooking.
4. Check the Temperature Before You Start Grilling
One common mistake of steak grillers everywhere is take them straight from the fridge to the grill – they can toughen. You want your steaks to be at room temperature when you start cooking them, so remove them from the fridge at least 30 minutes before you start to cook them. You may need up to an hour for a thicker steak. Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel before you start grilling – a wet steak is a steamed steak.
5. Grill to Perfection
After getting your steaks to room temperature, patting them dry with a paper towel, and rubbing them with a dry salt mixture, sear them for two to three minutes per side about three to five inches from the flame. This will help to sear the outside while sealing in the juices. Brush the steaks with extra oil and return them to the grill to cook until they reach their desired doneness. This will help to form a flavorful crust. If you’re using a gas grill, turn the temperature down for this final phase.