Guide to Grilling the Perfect Steak

There’s something primal about cooking a large piece of meat over an open fire that appeals to all men. On top of that, it just seems like anything cooked outside tastes better. Grilling is something that every man loves to do, but that not everyone does well. Grilling a juicy steak might seem like an easy task, and in truth it is, but there are several pitfalls that you have to avoid along the way to keep from ruining your expensive steak.

First of all, let’s talk about steaks and how your choice in cuts will influence your final result. Have you ever wondered why restaurant steaks taste better than anything you have ever made at home? Is it some secret seasoning or grill that they are using? No. The difference between the steak that you get in a restaurant and the ones you cook at home have more to do with the quality of the meat than anything else. High end restaurants and steak houses use cuts of meat that are graded “Prime” under government regulations. Also, most steak houses age their meats, a technique that essentially rots the meat in a controlled way so that the proteins are broken down, allowing the steak to be mouthwateringly tender. Unfortunately, the average home cook cannot age meat at home. Prime meats have the most fat and marbling, which means flavorful, juicy meat. In comparison, what you are likely to find at your local supermarket is “choice” meat. While not horrible, choice meats are one step down from prime cuts. They will not be as juicy or as flavorful as prime meats, but are the most readily available steaks that you will find. So, when it comes to picking a good steak, you have two options, you can go to an expensive butcher or mail order a prime cut of meat, or you can make do with what is at the supermarket.

When you’re at the supermarket, you’ll want to look for cuts of meat that have a lot of marbling. TO recognize these pieces, look for steaks that have a lot of white streaks of fat that run through the center of the meat. These pieces will be juicy, tender, and flavorful. Next, you want to consider the cut of beef that you are buying. Rib eyes, New York Strips, T-Bones, and Porterhouse steaks make the best steaks for grilling. Beef tenderloin can also be grilled, but requires more attention since it is so lean.

To grill your steaks, begin by seasoning them. The best way to season your steaks is to coat them with a little bit of olive oil and then season liberally with salt and pepper. You want to keep the seasoning very simple so the flavor of the meat can shine. Don’t be afraid to salt the meat, because a lot of it will fall off when the steak hits the grill. Typically, home cooks under salt their foods, which is one of the big reasons that restaurant food tastes better than home cooking many times. Place your steaks into the refrigerator until you’re ready to grill. 30 minutes before grilling, bring out the steaks and leave them on the counter so that they can come to room temperature. This will help to promote even cooking.

Prepare your grill while the steaks are marinating. If you’re grilling over a charcoal fire, make sure your coals are up to temperature before putting the meat on. To know if your grill is hot, hover your hand over the grill grates. If you can only hold it there for less than 5 seconds, your grill is ready. If you’re using a gas grill, set the burners on high and heat the grill until you only hold your hand over the grates for the same period of time as on a charcoal grill.

Place your steaks on the grill and resist the urge to move them. You’ll want them to sit on the grates untouched for a few minutes so that a crust can develop. This is where all the flavor is. If you have a flare up, spray the flame with a little bit of water. For a thinner steak, grill for 2-3 minutes per side. If your steak is thicker, adjust accordingly. It is also helpful to have a meat thermometer on hand. For a perfect medium rare, cook your steaks until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 125 degrees. Remove the steaks from the grill and allow them to sit for 10-15 minutes. This will allow the juices in the meat to redistribute, creating a succulent, perfect steak.