How to Grill the Perfect Steak

Let me start off as I always do by saying this how to grill the perfect steak article is just an outline. Your results will vary, due to grill temperature and other variables.

I prefer to purchase steaks and most of our meat from a butcher. The quality is much better then the meat found in the grocery store. If you must purchase frozen steaks (or receive them as a gift) always thaw them on a plate in your refrigerator, 24 hours will typically get the job done. This will help keep in the juices and juice means flavor. Do not thaw at room temperature or under water! Bigger is better here, the larger the cut of meat the more margin for error you have when grilling it.

Remove steaks from the refrigerator at least one hour before cooking, cover with a paper towel if leaving them out uncovered freaks you out(they need to breathe). You are bringing the meat up to room temperature before placing on the grill so the thicker your steak the more time this will require.

The new rule of thumb for seasoning your steak is to season them 40 minutes before you grill. When adding salt it will first draw moisture out of the steak then break down and within 40 minutes absorb back into the meat moisture and all (thank you Alton Brown). When seasoning good steaks all that is required is a dusting of salt and pepper, for lesser quality meats we like to use Lawry’s Seasoned Salt to add a little flavor.

Some people (I am not one of them) will tell you to brush a light coat of cooking oil onto the steak before grilling. Don’t do it.

Pre-heat your grill to get it as hot as possible and sear those suckers. It should only take about a minute or two to achieve good grill marks. Rotate your steaks a quarter turn to and move to an unused part of the grates for another minute to achieve cross-hatch grill marks.

Flip and repeat. I suggest you close the grill hood each time to retain as much heat as possible during this process. Any cut with good marbling (fat content) throughout needs to be watched closely foe flare-ups.

Now move your steaks to finish them with indirect heat. If this is not possible turn the flames down to a medium-low heat. How long to cook them now depends on thickness and cut of your steaks.

I will begin checking the internal temperature on smaller steaks after 5 minutes of indirect heat and thicker cuts I will check after about 8 minutes. It is very important to use a thermometer if you want the perfect steak. My experience it that the temperature will begin to rise rapidly once the internal temperature gets above 105 degrees.

Remove your steaks from the grill 5 to 8 degrees short of them reaching your ideal temperature. A rare steak is between 120 and 130 degrees, medium-rare is 130 to 140 and medium is 140 to 150 degrees. If you like your steak well done you most likely are not interested reading this.

A quick story about well-done steaks: The in-laws were over for dinner and before I began cooking the steaks I received specific instructions to grill their steaks to 160 degrees. After a 5-minute argument I gave in and told them fine I’d do it. Their steaks were served to them at the mid range temperature of medium well 155 degrees. Did I hear these are not cooked enough? No. What they actually said was that it was the best that they had ever eaten and until they read this they do not know how those steaks were cooked.

After you remove the steaks from the grill tent (place foil on top but allow both ends to be open so that air can get in) with tin foil. If you are going to add a pat of herb-seasoned butter do so before you tent. The butter is a matter of personal preference; I do enjoy it on Filet Mignon.

Let the steaks sit for 5-minutes before serving.

Two cuts of steak that deserve some special attention are the Filet and the Porterhouse. The filet will have little to no fat so it will dry out if overcooked. It is also the cut that will benefit the most from a pat of herb-seasoned butter placed on the top when it is finished cooking. The Porterhouse is a combination strip steak and filet. It is best to attempt to keep the filet side away from the heat because it will cook much faster than the strip side.

This guide should help you get the most out of your steaks, just remember all of these little touches make all the difference when grilling.

We have detailed guides on selecting which cut of steak you should be grilling as well as full how to articles on grilling the more popular cuts of steaks.

About the author: Mike is the owner of 4thegrill.com, a Certified Food Safety Professional and KCBS member.
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