How to Grill the Perfect Steak 101
While we no longer have to hunt down bison or dodge flying embers while balancing a brazier grill on wobbly legs, stepping up to the grill can still seem daunting. With a few tips from the Wurstmeister, you'll be serving up the perfect steak in no time!
Pick your beef. Tender cuts such as sirloin, tenderloin, porterhouse, New York Strip, Shell Steak and Flat Iron are good choices for he grill. Fibrous steaks such as skirt and flank can be thinly sliced on the diagonal to create a good eating experience. Tough cuts like the chuck and blade steak do best when cooked long and slow so they should be avoided.
Think quality. Beef grades (prime, choice, select, standard) can provide valuable insight as to how the meat will grill up. Choice steaks are widely available and are easy for even the newest griller to keep tender and juicy. Select steaks have a lesser amount of marbling, or intramuscular fat, so they dry out more quickly during cooking.
Preheat the grill. Charcoal grills should be heated to medium; at this temperature you should be able to hold the palm of your hand near cooking height for about four seconds before the heat causes discomfort. Heating times vary greatly for gas grills based on size and design, but should come with instructions.
Season the steaks. A simple, generous application of salt and pepper can provide great flavor. A course grain salt like sea salt will dissolve more slowly and hold up over the flame better than fine table salt. More elaborate rubs consist of a variety of seasonings pressed onto the meat's surface before grilling. This can include anything from dry herbs and spices to a paste of crushed garlic, mustard or soy sauce combined with dry seasonings. If a few last minute seasonings seem too simple, marinades can be utilized to prepare steaks in advance. Tender cuts can be marinated from 15 minutes to 2 hours or a tenderizing marinade can be used for at least 6 hours but not more than 24 hours before grilling. The acidic qualities of lemon, vinegar, Italian dressing or wine can penetrate and tenderize steaks in a food-safe plastic bag, glass or stainless steel container. It is important to marinate in the refrigerator and to never save and reuse a marinade.
Oil the grill. Prepare your heated grill by rubbing a piece of steak fat or an oiled rag along the surface you plan to place the steak.
Get Grilling! Steaks should be lined up in the same direction. After about 2 minutes, a 45°F rotation will create the famous crosshatch square grill marks. Small beads of blood will appear on the surface in the next few minutes indicating the steak is ready to be flipped with grill tongs (the holes of a fork would allow the steak juices to run out).
Is it done yet? To get technical, the internal temperature of a steak should reach 145°F and ground beef should reach 160°F. But, feel is also a great indicator of doneness. A rare steak will be soft and yielding when pressed, similar to the flesh at the base of your thumb and forefinger when you bring them loosely together. A medium steak will be slightly resistant to the touch, comparable to when you make a loose fist. A well done steak will be firm to the touch like the feel at the base of your thumb and forefinger when you tightly clench your hand.
Wait 2 to 3 minutes. With the tempting smell of fresh cooked beef, it's easy to get in a rush to dig in; however, letting the meat rest for 2-3 minutes will give the juices time to move from the center of the meat to the exterior making the entire steak more juicy and flavorful.
And there you have it...in under 10 steps you can be serving up delicious steaks all summer long. While we have come a long way from primitive campfires, the lure of the flame still burns bright in grills around the world.