Choosing The Best Steak
Cuts of Steak: Choosing good quality steak is important. There are several cuts of steak that are good for grilling, some come with bones and some without.
- Tenderloin or Fillet : the most tender, most expensive cut. It has no bone.
- Sirloin: often a large cut, and can include a bone or be boneless.
- T-bone and Porterhouse: both have a large bone, and are great for grilling.
- New York or Strip Steak: boneless and has strong beef flavor.
- Rib Steak and Rib Eye : cuts with a higher marbled fat ratio, and offer rich flavor.
- Top Sirloin: leaner and less expensive than Sirloin. Still a great choice for the grill.
- Rump Steak: comes from the upper part of the hindquarters. Tender and lean, and good for grilling.
- Skirt Steak: comes from the inner thigh and is best for slow cooking in stews. Try to get one of the other cuts for grilling.
Grades of Steak: Use the USDA grades beef into three categories to offer a basic guide as to the quality of the meat.
- Prime is the best but usually reserved for restaurants. It has the most marbling .
- Choice is the next best and is more commonly available. It still has good levels of marbling and is juicy and tender.
- Select tends to be very lean , and often dries out very easily.
How To Grill Steak:
1. Season the meat and allow it to rest before grilling!
You can use a wet marinade , or a simple dry seasoning to add flavor to your steak. Allow the steaks to rest at room temperature at least 15-20 minutes before grilling and season them about 10-15 minutes before grilling.
2. Clean and oil your grill.
Turn your charcoal or gas grill to high and heat it for about 10-15 minutes before you start cooking. If you have a temperature gauge on your grill, look for it to reach about 450-500ºF. Otherwise, observe the coals or gas heat level to see if the coals are barely covered with ash or hold your hand over the heat and you shouldnt be able to handle it for more than about 3-4 seconds.
Use a grill brush to brush away any chunks of charred meat and drippings. To prevent the steak from sticking to the grill, soak a paper towel with some vegetable oil and use tongs to rub it gently over the grill rack.
3. Sear and cook: only flip once!
The cook time of your steak will largely depend on the thickness of the steak. Heres a rough guide but use a thermometer for more accurate internal temperatures.
- 1 inch thick : grill 3-7 minutes per side depending on desired doneness.
- 1 ¼ inch thick : grill 8-10 minutes per side depending on desired doneness.
Only flip steaks one time during cooking.
4. Use a thermometer to check for doneness.
5. Let it rest.
How To Choose A Steak
Before the fun grilling part, we need to choose the meat. First of all, you can throw pretty much anything on a grill but whether it will taste the best, thats not exactly true. There are some cuts that just perform better on the grill.
When choosing a cut, go for loins like sirloins and rib eye steaks. The pretty piece of meat that you see in the picture above is Wagyu strip steak from a T-bone steak.
The main thing that I look for to make the steak extra special is lots of fine marbling. Marbling is an intramuscular fat that you see throughout the meat, not on the outside of it. You want to look for those fine lines of fat within the meat.
The finer the fat, the better. Fine marbling is what will give your steak juiciness, tenderness, and lots of flavor. You dont want to have lots of thick fat in the middle of your meat.
You also dont want the steaks to be too fat or too thin. Its best to choose the steaks that are 1.5 inches thick, with 2 inches being absolute thickest.
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Salting Early Pays Off
You might have heard the warning that you shouldnt salt meat too far in advance of cooking because it can draw out moisture. Its true that salt draws moisture towards itself, but over the course of 20 to 30 minutes thats a good thing, because the salt begins to dissolve into that little bit of moisture.
When the steak hits the hot cooking grate, the sugars and proteins in the moisture combine with the salt and other seasonings to create a delicious crust. Any moisture you might lose is well worth the flavor of that crust.
Use A Meat Thermometer
Professional chefs cook so many steaks in their career that they know the level of doneness just by touching the meat. You might feel pretty comfortable with this technique on thinner steaks, too, but its harder to estimate the temperature of a really thick steak. Take the mystery out of it by investing in an instant-read meat thermometer .
Your meat thermometer doesnt care how thick the steak is, so take advantage of its precision. Youre aiming for 130° F for rare, 140° F for medium-rare, 150° F for medium, and 160° F for well done. The steaks temperature will continue to rise the additional 5 degrees as it rests.
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Tips For Grilling Steaks:
- Choose the cut thats right for you. There are many good cuts of steak to choose from, depending on your preference. I love rib-eyes, strip steaks and T-bone steaks. If you prefer a thin steak they cook faster and youre not dealing with a big thick piece of meat when you eat. If you cant find the thin cut youre looking for, purchase a thicker cut of meat and ask the butcher at the store to slice it in half, horizontally.
- Choose high quality steak. The quality of the meat you purchase plays a huge factor in how good your steaks will turn out! Steaks are given different grades based on the marbling and the age the animal was at slaughter. The highest quality meat is younger beef that has the most marbling. At most grocery stores, youll have your choice of the following three grades:
- Select: cheaper, or sale priced meat.
- Choice: The best choice for your local grocery store. Higher quality and widely available.
- Prime: the best of the best. Not found at most supermarkets but you can find prime cuts of meat at Costco!
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 The Perfect Steak
1: Fire up the grill, let it get it nice and hot. Good heat means there will be a beautiful strong charred color on the meat, and that color means flavor.
2: Oil up the grill, or the steak a little, so that it doesnt stick, and place the steak on the grill.
3. Leave it alone. No prodding turning or poking. We are only going to turn the steak once, and do so using tongs.
4. Time it right. Of course, you are going to want to cook your perfect steak to your personal preference. Medium rare is popular and would be around 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Slightly less will give you rare, and slightly longer you will be getting into medium and well-done territory.
Another way to accurately gauge is to use a meat thermometer. Rare is around 125 degrees medium-rare is 125-130 medium, 130-135 degrees medium-well, 135 to 140 degrees and well, 140 and above.
5. Take your steak off the grill and let it sit for around 15 minutes before serving.
Serving tip: If you are going to cut your steak and plate it along with other foods, cut across the grain in even slices. Be sure to use a very sharp knife to do so.
Best of luck in your grilling endeavors! Check out Chef Pauls other grilling tips here.
When In Doubt Pick The Ribeye
The best steaks for at-home grilling are marbled beef ribeye steaks or bone-in ribeye steaks , says Michael Vignola, Corporate Executive Chef at Strip House and Bill’s Bar & Burger. “The marbling enhances the flavor of these cuts while basting the meat in the cooking process to ensure a juicy steak,” Vignola says. Not sure what marbling is? It’s the little white flecks of fat in the meat.
And before you head to the store, here’s Your Guide to Understanding the Best Cuts of Beef.
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How To Make Perfectly Grilled Steaks:
- Pat steaks dry with paper towels and place on a rimmed baking sheet or cutting board.
- Lightly coat with olive oil, kosher salt and coarse ground pepper on both sides.
- Prepare a grill fire to 400° using hickory, oak or pecan for smoke flavor.
- Sear steaks over direct fire for about 5 minutes with the grill closed, lowering grill temperature to about 350°.
- Flip the steaks and continue to cook until desired doneness is reached. A digital meat thermometer is the best way to know when to pull the steaks off of the grill. We pulled ours at about 130°.
- Remove steaks to a clean baking sheet. Tent with foil and rest 5 -10 minutes before serving.
- Top your grilled steak with homemade Steak Sauce and serve them up with fries or garlic butter baked potatoes and grilled garlic bread for a complete meal.
Best Steak Grilling Tips From The Pros
The sun is shining and you are surrounded by family and friends. The coals are turning grey and the moment is fast approaching the time to grill has almost arrived. A steak can be a beautiful thing to cook over open heat and fire, but can also be rather intimidating. In reality, cooking steaks is a very straightforward thing to do, as long as you understand some basic rules. With a few tips from the pros you can produce restaurant-quality results in your own backyard.
We consulted a couple of experts for their advice on how to achieve consistent, flavorful results every time you hit the grill with some steaks. John Schenk is the corporate executive chef at Strip House Steakhouse, with locations in Houston, New York City, and Las Vegas. Prior to his role at Strip House, he served as executive chef at Monkey Bar and Mad.61 at Barney’s New York. His simple, memorable advice will ensure juicy, tender, flavorful steaks each time.
Jan Birnbaum is a partner in San Francisco’s critically acclaimed Epic Roasthouse and was the executive chef until 2013. Birnbaum has more than 30 years of experience and currently emphasizes a “no-nonsense approach to food” making him the perfect man to ask for some “no-nonsense advice.” He has helped open a number of well-reviewed restaurants, including Sazerac in Seattle and his own Catahoula in Napa Valley, California.
Armed with the right tips and tricks, you can achieve meat nirvana every time, just like these seasoned pros.
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Prepare Your Steak For The Grill
Part of this step is the infamous allow your steak to come up to room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. While thats great when you have the time , its not strictly necessary. For example: in most restaurants, your steak is kept under refrigeration until the moment you order it. So, while this step is helpful when grilling steak, its not required
A better way to prepare your steak for the grill is to make sure the surface is very dry. If you salted it the night before, youre set. The steak sat uncovered in the refrigerator and the surface dried out really nicely. If you didnt have time for that, pat it dry with paper towels before hitting the grill.
Use A Thermometer And/or A Timer
Whether you are cooking a thick steak or a flat, thin cut of meat will determine whether you need a meat thermometer or not. For steaks that are at least 1 1/2 inches thick, you will want to use a meat thermometer to get an accurate reading. For rare, remove steaks at 120 F to 125 F, medium rare 125 F to 130 F, and medium 130 F to 135 F.
It’s nearly impossible to get an accurate temperature read on steaks thinner than 1 1/2 inches so it is best to use a timer instead. For 1-inch thick steaks cook them 3 minutes each side over high heat for quite rare, 4 minutes each side for medium rare, and 5 minutes for medium.
Try to avoid this if you can, but if you just have to take a peek, remove the steak from the grill and use the tip of a paring knife to make a cut into the center of the steak to see how things are going. Keep in mind that the steak will continue to cook as it rests after being removed from the grill. Cutting into the steak is discouraged because it will release the precious juices that help flavor and tenderize the meat.
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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.
How To Season The Steak
Put that seasoning mix down right now! The best seasoning for a good piece of steak is salt and pepper. If youre looking to enjoy a good cut of steak, the flavor will be all there in the meat, no need to add anything but salt and pepper.
If you are spending a lot of money on a good cut of beef and put a lot of effort into the preparation, you dont want to mask the natural flavor of the meat with sauces, marinades, and spice mixes. Save those for lesser cuts of meat.
Before putting it on the grill, pat the steak dry with a paper towel, rub it with some oil on all sides, and season it generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Remember, you always want to put oil on the actual meat, not on the grill.
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Skip The Fancy Marinades
In addition to oil, a well-marbled steak only needs coarsely ground black pepper and kosher salt to bring it to flavor perfection. “Be sure to season a bit more than you might regularly season a sautéed item,” Vignola says. “Some of the steak’s seasoning will be lost in the grilling process you want to be sure to have enough on the steak to get the job done.”
What Are The Best Tips For Grilling Round Steak
Some of the best tips for grilling round steak focus on marinating the meat, grilling methods and proper slicing techniques. When grilling a round steak, it is best to use a highly acidic or basting liquid on the traditionally tough beef cut. Allowing the steak to rise to room temperature prior to cooking is also a good tip. After grilling, another tip is to allow the meat to rest prior to serving in order to serve the tenderest and juiciest meat possible.
Round steak is one of the leanest cuts of beef available, therefore, after grilling round steak, the meat often tends to turn out tough and difficult to chew. This can be slightly reduced by using a highly acidic marinade on the round steak prior to placing the meat on the grill. The acid in the marinade, such as vinegar, citrus juice and other ingredients, works to break down the tissue of the beef and make the beef tenderer. The liquid in the marinade provides the required moisture to prevent to meat from drying out when cooking. Placing olive oil in the marinade helps create meat less likely to stick to the grill grate.
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