Sunday, June 26, 2011

How to Grill a Steak...Properly


Grilling a steak is something everyone should know how to do...yet that isn't the case. While it is not necessarily considered gourmet, preparing a steak well is an art.

The first step to a great steak dinner is choosing the cut and thickness of the meat.  I would not buy a steak less then ¾” thick because you will lose a lot of the flavor and juices during cooking. Type of steak is very much taste dependent, and your tolerance for fat will also drive you to a specific cut. Fat makes steak more flavorful, but how marbled you get like your steak is a preference thing. I encourage everyone to try as many cuts as you can and see what you like.



•Tenderloin: The tenderloin is a cut of meat that is the tenderest (and therefore usually the most expensive). The tenderloin is found in the middle of the back between the sirloin and the rib. It is extremely tender because the muscles that make up the tenderloin are rarely used. When the tenderloin is cut into pieces, it is called fillet mignon steaks.

•T-Bone: The T-bone is a bone-in steak from the short loin. This cut has a T-shaped bone that separates the tenderloin section from the larger portion of the top loin. These steaks are not as tender as the porterhouse steak.

•Porterhouse: The Porterhouse steak is a large steak from the thick end of the short loin containing a T-shaped bone and large piece of tenderloin. Porterhouse steak is one of the most popular types of steaks.

•Strip or Top Loin: Porterhouse or T-bone steaks that have been stripped of the choice tenderloin portion.  Top loin steaks are usually expensive.

•Rib-Eye: The rib eye or ribeye is a beef steak from the beef rib. When cut into steaks, the ribeye is one of the most popular, juiciest, and expensive steaks on the market. Meat from the rib section is tender and fattier than other cuts of beef. This extra fat makes ribeye steaks and roasts especially tender and flavorful.

•Sirloin: The sirloin is near the rump. Sirloin steaks are tougher than cuts from the loin or the rib. 

•Flank: Flank steak is a beef steak cut from the belly muscles of the cow. Long and flat, the flank steak's best known application is London Broil. The flank steak is much tougher than the loin and rib steaks. Many recipes for flank steak use marinades or braising. Flank steak is best when it has a bright, red color. You can tenderize flank steak by marinating it in a tenderizing liquid, including acids like tomato-based products, lemon juice, wine, vinegar, pineapple or ginger.

•Skirt: The skirt steak is a cut of beef steak from the belly primal cut. The skirt steak is a long, flat cut that is flavorful, but tougher than most other steak cuts. Most people use skirt steak to make fajitas.
Once you have it home and are ready go, I usually salt the steaks and leave them on a plate in the fridge for an hour or so before they go on the grill. For London Broil, I’ll try and marinate and leave it in the fridge for at least 12 hours.

When you are ready to cook, set the grill up to med-high heat (pre-heat so the temp is between 400-450). On charcoal grills, make sure you have cooked down the coals to a nice grey and use a thermometer if you have one.  Make sure that you have a clean grill, grates and burner. Cooking steak at this temp on a dirty grill will cause fire to rise and directly touch the meat which will skew the times and burn the outside.

Once the grill is pre-heated, use the high temp Pam to grease up the grates on the grill. Place your steaks on and salt the top side again. When you think you have put enough salt on it, put a little more. Cover the grill and wait. Try to limit the amount of times you open the cover.

Based on the thickness of your cut, you can sear your steaks at this point. Searing locks in the juice of your steak, but I only really do it if the cut is 1” or larger. To sear, place the steak on the grill and keep it there for 1.5 to 2 min. Then flip it and begin cooking the other side like normal. If you sear, remember that the 2 min of the first side counts towards to total time you should cook that side.

Cooking time at 400-450 for ¾” to 1” thick* steaks will be:
6 min per side – Rare
7 min per side – Med Rare
8 min per side – Medium
Anything more than that is cruel and unusual punishment to the meat and I urge you to turn yourself in to the local authorities.

*Add 3 min per side more for each 1/2” of additional thickness. (Ex. 1 ½” thick steak should be cooked 9 min per side for rare)

When you flip the steaks, salt the other side again and then cover the grill. Make sure to use tongs to flip the steak. DO NOT use a fork and do your best not to puncture the steak at any point during the grilling.



THE MOST IMPORTANT PART of grilling any meat is to let it rest after you have cooked it. I typically will place the steaks on a plate, cover with aluminum foil and leave them for at least 5 minutes before serving them. You can wait up to 10 min before serving them.

- Tim & Melissa

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