Grilling a perfect steak – the kind your neighbors wish they could – is all about basics. As you’ll soon see, “less is more” really applies to your summer grill.
This post examines five simple steps professional chefs use to grill (and get that oh-so-elusive char).
Ready to get started? Then roll up your sleeves – things are about to heat up in here.
Step #1. Choose the Right Meat
This is by far the most important step. Even the greatest chefs can’t turn dog food into delicacy. When choosing your steak, use the USDA ratings:
Select: The lowest quality found in supermarkets. Select is better used for roasts than grilled steaks.
Choice: A quality cut with tenderness and marbling. A perfectly acceptable (and popular) grade of meat for grilling.
Prime: The highest quality possible. Only 2% of beef meets this USDA grade. Prime steaks have the most marbling, texture and flavor.
If you’re looking to grill the perfect steak, nothing less than Prime grade beef will do.
Of course, there are different cuts of meat, too.
Filet: The most tender cut. Due to less marbling, it doesn’t have the flavor as other cuts, but it’s still regarded as a quality cut.
Ribeye: The most flavorful cut. However, all that marbling puts the ribeye on the fatty side.
NY Strip: Is a compromise between a filet and ribeye. It’s more flavorful than a filet and more tender than a ribeye.
As you can see, there’s no wrong answer here. Just make sure whatever cut you choose is Prime grade!
A final word on selecting meat: you will almost always get the best quality steaks at a butcher’s shop instead of a supermarket.
Step #2. Keep it Simple
You only need four items to season: salt, pepper, olive oil and butter. That’s it. Don’t overthink this: you want the natural flavor of the meat to stand out, not the seasoning.
In order to get a good char, melt unsalted butter in a pan. Remove any milk solids and let cool. Then add olive oil and coat the steaks with them (be sure to let excess oil drip off; too much will cause flare-ups on the grill).
Then season liberally with salt and pepper. You really cannot add too much salt to steak – it creates a delicious outside crust and helps the steak retain its natural juices.
Step #3. Stoke the Fire
Professional steakhouses have insanely hot broilers – some burn up to 1,700 degrees Farenheit – in order to sear the outside of the steak.
Your backyard grill is nowhere near that hot, so get it as hot as possible before you put the steaks on. The more sear you put on the steak, the better.
Higher quality steaks stand up to this heat better, and are less likely to burn over an open flame. Keep an eye on it, though, so you don’t overcook it!
Which leads us to…
Step #4. Monitor the Temperature
Great steaks should be cooked, not overcooked. Rare to medium is acceptable; anything beyond that is a sin against steak.
Pros check temperature by feel – if the steak feels like the skin between your index finger and thumb, it’s ready. Of course, meat thermometers are the easiest way to tell (125 – 135 degrees Farenheit is ideal).
And of course…
Step #5. Let. It. Rest.
Do not skip this step! Many backyard BBQs have been ruined by over-eager grillers. When your steak is on the grill, the proteins constrict and squeeze the juice out. By letting your steak rest for five minutes – either on a plate or cutting board – it allows the juices to be reabsorbed by the meat (which makes it taste a whole lot better, too!).
You can also cover the steak with tin foil to help keep it warm.
As you can see, grilling the perfect steak is quite easy to do. All you need to do is follow these tips and make sure you have the right tools for the job. Perfect your grill gear collection with BBQ tools you can find on HomeWetBar.com and GreatGiftsForMen.com. What tips do you have for cooking steak? Let us know in the comments below!