How To Buy A Good Steak
Q: Prime, Choice, or Select. What do they mean?
Cattle are graded after slaughter according to the degree of marbling, as well as the cow’s age.
All beef that’s sold in the U.S. is graded by the United States Department of Agriculture on a scale according to its tenderness and degree of marbling. At the top of the heap is Prime, which denotes an abundant degree of marbling in a cow under 42 months of age. Only about 2% of the beef sold in this country is designated Prime, and most of it goes to restaurants, specialty butchers, and high end supermarkets. Below that is Choice, followed by Select, which are the two grades you’ll find in most supermarkets.
The grades continue to go down all the way to Canner, which generally comes from very old cows with little fat in their tough meat. Luckily for us, you won’t find that grade in stores .
While checking the grade is a quick and easy indicator of the quality of the meat, what you should really be checking for is the degree of marblingthat’s the interstitial fat that shows up in white spiderwebs throughout the meat.
Why, you might ask, is marbling important? Two reasons: moisture and flavor. As well-marbled meat cooks, the fat will slowly melt, adding juiciness built right into the meat. Non-marbled meat might have plenty of fat on the exterior, but it doesn’t enhance the steak in the same way. Sort of like the difference between drinking a glass of chocolate milk or drinking the milk then shooting the chocolate syrup.
What To Do With Leftover Steak
Got leftover steak? Dont waste it! Here are a few ideas to repurpose it:
Nachos: make a big sheet pan of nachos and instead of using ground beef, use sliced steak instead.
Bowls: Make our beef taco bowls, but use diced steak instead of ground beef.
Mac and Steak: Make a box of mac and cheese and serve it with sliced grilled steak.
How To Tell When Steak Is Done
How long steaks take to cook depends on many factors like the cut, thickness, grill temperature and preferred doneness. The best way to see whether or not your steaks are ready is to check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Measure the temperature in the thickest part of the center and make sure not to touch any bones.
Meat Doneness Temperatures:
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How To Prepare A Steak For Grilling:
Now that youve bought a nice steak, heres how to prepare them before cooking.
Always Let The Meat Rest
Perhaps the most important step that most people don’t do is allowing the steaks to sit once they are taken off of the grill. The steaks need to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving or cutting them. This gives the juices a chance to redistribute throughout the steak, which both helps it finish cooking evenly and keeps the meat moister and more flavorful. Place the cooked steaks on a cutting board or platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Once rested, either slice or serve the steaks whole.
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How To Prepare Steaks For The Grill
To prepare steaks for the grill you will need to:
How To Grill Strip Steak
Strip steak is juicy and well-marbled with a bold, beefy flavor and the iconic shape of a wide top and small bottom. All it needs is the salt-and-pepper treatment, but a would also be lovely.
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The Best Steaks For Grilling:
Beef is incredibly versatile and its easy to swap with a different steak depending on availability, budget, and preference. Any thick-cut steak will work for this recipe . We love a well-marbled steak for grilling for the juiciest results. These are our favorite steaks for the grill:
- Ribeye Steak we used a bone-in ribeye here. Ribeye steaks are cut from the whole Rib. Ribeye is considered the king of the grill. A lower-cost alternative would be a Chuck Eye Steak.
- T-Bone Steak a bone-in steak which is actually a combination of New York Strip Steak and Tenderloin Steak. A good alternative for the T-Bone is a Porterhouse Steak.
- New York Steak also known as a Strip Steak or KC Strip, this one is well-marbled and juicy. This is also our favorite cut for Pan-Seared Steak.
- Top Sirloin Steak a versatile favorite that is juicy and tender.
How Long To Grill Steak:
Insert an instant-read thermometer into the side of the steak in the thickest part. For an accurate temperature reading, avoid touching the bone or fat. Keep in mind thick steaks will continue to rise in temperature an additional 5 to 10 degrees once off the grill so remove them about 5-10 degrees before they reach their ideal temperature. Follow this steak cooking chart:
- Medium Rare doneness the final temperature will reach 145F. The USDA recommends cooking steaks to a minimum internal temperature of 145F.
- Medium doneness the final temperature will reach 160F
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How To Grill Filet Mignon
Widely considered the most tender piece of steak, filet mignon has a fine-grained texture that melts in your mouth when cooked. Filet mignon doesn’t have much fat, so it’s important not to overcook it. Chef Frothingham likes cooking a filet in a cast iron skillet on the grill. A simple sauce of butter, rosemary, and garlic is a perfect pairing.
Thicker Steaks Should Slide Over
Most steaks grill beautifully over direct high heat alone. The only time you might need to move them is if/when they cause flare-ups. However, some steaks are so thick that if you left them over direct heat alone, they would burn on the outside before they reached the internal doneness you like.
If your steaks are much thicker than an inch, consider the sear and slide approach. After you have seared both sides nicely over direct high heat, slide the steaks to a part of the grill that is not so hot, perhaps over indirect heat, and finish cooking them safely there.
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How To Grill A Steak To Perfection
Cooking time for your steak will depend on its size. Generally, for a one-inch-thick steak, grill for around 4 to 5 minutes per side.
On a charcoal grill, two techniques are to sear or reverse-sear it with two heat zones. To sear, grill first on high heat then finish on indirect heat. This creates a more crispy outer edge. To reverse sear, cook on indirect heat first and then move to direct heat to sear-finish, which will lead to a more evenly distributed level of doneness across the surface area of the steak.
With a gas grill, you can adjust the heat so that you dont overcook, and also you can manually create different heat zones. Once you sear each side on the hot grates, youll want to slightly turn down the heat on that section of the grill so it doesnt continue to cook on high heat.
Grilled Steak With Herb Butter Recipe Highlights
I think this is the perfect grilled steak recipe, & Im pretty sure youll agree. Its
- MELTINGLY TENDER. The 2-zone grilling method cooks the steak with low, gentle heat before finishing with a beautiful char. It cuts smooth as butter juicy, melt-in-your-mouth perfection!
- RESTAURANT-QUALITY. Simply seasoned steaks hit next-level deliciousness when basted in herby, garlicky butter over direct heat. An herb basting brush is a seriously simple technique that feels oh-so-fancy as delicious as your favorite steakhouse, guaranteed!
- THE PERFECT SPECIAL OCCASION MEAL. Steak dinners are the best way to celebrate! Make simple grilled steak for summer holidays like Fathers Day, date night at home, or any other special occasion this summer.
Grilling steak perfectly has never been easier! Read on to learn more about how to make the perfect Grilled Steak with Herb Butter Brush, or jump straight to the recipe& get grilling!
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The Food Lab’s Definitive Guide To Grilled Steak
Summer’s here and I’ve got a brand-new backyard to grill in, so now seems like as good a time as any to reexamine some of the things we know about grilling beef.
Sure, we can all agree on what our goal is: A perfect steak should have a crusty, crunchy, well-browned exterior surrounding a core of perfectly pink, juicy, tender meat that spans from edge to edge. A perfect steak should have a nice contrast between the smoky, almost charred exterior and the deeply beefy interior. A perfect steak should be chin-drippingly juicy and melt-in-your-mouth tender.
We all know where we want to go. The real debate is, what’s the best way to get there? You’ve just dropped $50 on some prime aged beef, and you’re rightfully nervous about screwing it all up. After all, there’s a lot at… ahem, wait for it… steak.
Want to know how to grill a steak? Here’s my advice: Do not do it the way they do it at steakhouses. It seems counterintuitive: Surely a restaurant with years of experience cooking hundreds of steaks a day knows a thing or two about how it’s done, right? Well, yes. They know how to cook a steak in a steakhouse setting, where their goal is consistency, quality, and, more importantly, speed. Hungry customers don’t want to have to wait for their meat, and a steakhouse has equipment and techniques designed to meet those needs.
Ready to dive in? Let’s go!
Take It To The Next Level: Basting Grilled Steak With An Herb Butter Brush
Herb brush basting is the wow factor that takes this recipe to a new level of fancy-feeling summer entertaining. Ill never forget when I first saw a chef use an herb brush to baste a wood-fired roast at a resort in upstate New York. It looked SO epic & was one of those why didnt I think of that?! kind of moments.
Why it works This step mimics the basting process commonly used to make the most delicious steak on the stovetop, but it does so with an herb brush instead of a spoon. The herb butter brush, made with sprigs of fresh rosemary & thyme, sweeps garlic butter over the hot steaks, leaving a subtle herbaceous flavor behind. Its so simple, but has such a big impact perfect for any occasion when you want to impress!
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
How to make an herb butter brush. It couldnt be simpler! All you need are a few sprigs of fresh rosemary & fresh thyme & some kitchen twine. Align the herbs on a work surface & gather the stem at the end to create a nice bundle. Tie the sprigs together with the kitchen twine & spread out the stems to create a brush shape that will capture the melted butter.
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
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Why Youll Love This Recipe
Gas Vs Charcoal Grills
Most people will tell you that charcoal or wood-fire grills are preferable for grilling steaks because they bring that smokey, charred flavor. If you are using a charcoal grill, skip the charcoal briquettes and lighter fluid, as these can add a kerosene flavor to your steak. Instead, opt for wood or natural, hardwood lump charcoal .
But don’t fret if you have a gas grill. The heat is ultimately more important than how you get it. You can still achieve great results with a gas grill. And gas grills allow for greater precision and control over the heat, which is definitely a plus for the amateur and the grill-master alike.
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Make The Steak Seasoning
Start by making the homemade steak seasoning. Trust me this homemade version is light years better than anything you have pre-mixed in your cupboard. Add rock salt, whole black peppercorns, minced dried garlic, minced dried onion, fennel seeds, and red chili pepper flakes to a mortar then grind it up with the pestle.
If you dont have a mortar and pestle, add the ingredients to a heavy duty Ziplock bag, squeeze all the air out then crush with a meat mallet, rolling pin, or heavy bottomed skillet.
Best Grilled Steak Recipes
There are a few things I look forward to more than grilling ribeye steak, and this is coming from a person who loves recipes on the grill. What could be better than a perfectly grilled steak you can make right at home in minutes?
- One of my absolute favorites is this inexpensive marinated chuck steak. It is so tasty and an amazing value!
- London Broil is also a great cut that my family loves every time I make it.
- When I want to splurge or impress family and friends, the best beef tenderloin recipe is my go-to!
- Coulotte Steak is amazingly delicious and so tender.
- New Strip Steak it just doesn’t get any better than a perfectly grilled NY Strip!
- Grilled Porterhouse Steak the Mac Daddy of all steaks will never disappoint!
What To Serve With Grilled Steak
Baked Potato in Foil: there is nothing better than steak and potatoes! Try our baked potato in foil recipe. Cook it on the grill or in the oven. The choice is yours.
Foil Pack Potatoes: These foil pack grilled red potatoes are an easy side to add to any bbq. All you need to do to make these grilled potatoes in foil is toss them in olive oil, spices, and create foil pack!
Grilled Asparagus In Foil: Jump into asparagus season with the easiest and yummiest way to eat it. Make Grilled Asparagus in foil for a 20-minute side perfect for all types of eaters!
Butter Lettuce Salad: This butter lettuce salad has a combination of vegetables, fruit, nuts, cheese, and is drizzled with a simple lemon vinaigrette. Everything on a bed of tender butter lettuce makes a perfect and delicious salad.
Foil Pack Peach Crumble: Its made with juicy peaches tossed in maple syrup and a yummy crumble topping, making it a gluten-free fruit crumble and a healthy dessert recipe for the summertime!
Choose Your Steak Wisely
It all starts with choosing the right steak for the job. A thick steak will take forever to reach a well-done temperature, and its almost impossible to hit a perfect medium-rare with a thin steak. When in doubt, ask your butcher for 1- to 1.5-inch thick steaks theyre easy to cook to any temperature.
If you do end up with a super thick steak, dont worry: we also know the secrets to grilling thick steak.
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For Thin Steaks Sear Over Direct Heat
Forsteak that’s less than 1 1/2 inches thick, simply grill the steak over the direct heat until it reaches the desired temperature, flipping the meat about every minute. This will ensure that the surface browns evenly throughout, and that the middle of the steak won’t cook too quickly or unevenly. Take the steak off of the grill once it hits your target temperature . Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing and/or serving.