Grilling the perfect steak is as much a science as an art. No lab coat required.
- Seasoned salt
- Garlic salt
- Dry rub
- Charcoal starter
- Vegetable oil
- Paper towel
- Grill brush
- Grill stone
- Instant-read meat thermometer
- Aluminum foil
- Minced rosemary
- Chimichurri sauce
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
Select the steakGrilling the perfect steak starts with selecting the right cut of beef. Grilling is considered a “dry” method of cooking beef — as opposed to “wet” methods that involve cooking beef in liquid, such as braising or stewing. Because dry methods don’t tenderize the meat, you’ll want to choose tender cuts such as New York strip steaks, T-bones, filet mignon, sirloin, Porterhouse or rib-eyes about 1 inch thick. The best quality beef is grass-fed and free of antibiotics or hormones. Select steaks that have some “marbling” of fat, which makes them juicy and flavorful. When in doubt, ask your butcher for guidance.
Prepare the steakBefore hitting the grill, the steak should be room temperature. Make sure the surface of the meat is dry. The goal is to develop a nice brown sear on the meat, sealing all the juices inside. If the surface is wet, the meat will steam over the coals and turn gray. Dry the surface by pressing a paper towel on the meat. Season the steak generously, on both sides, with salt and fresh ground pepper. To take your steak to the next level, use a seasoned salt or garlic salt to draw out more flavor. Marinades tenderize and boost flavor. Dry rubs, which are combinations of spices rubbed on the surface of the steak, are another great way to add flavor.
Prepare the grillFor grilling steak, you want a hot, clean and well-oiled grill. If you are working with a charcoal grill, you’ll know the coals are ready when they are glowing and covered in gray ash. Use a grill brush or grill stone to scrape the grate clean. Put the grate on the grill and give it a minute to heat up before oiling it. One way to oil a hot grill is to douse paper towels with vegetable oil and use a long set of tongs to hold the towels, rubbing the oil directly on the grill. Make sure all vents are open on the grill, allowing oxygen to circulate with the cover on.
The goal is to sear the steak so you seal in all the juices without overcooking the meat. And since you’re grilling the perfect steak, you’ll want your meat to have “cross-hatch” or diamond-like marks that signal professional grilling. Start by placing the steaks on the grill angled toward “10 o’clock.” Close the cover and wait about two minutes. Using a set of tongs or a spatula (never a fork), keep the steaks on the same side and turn them so they point toward “2 o’clock.” Close the cover and wait another two minutes. Repeat on the other side of the steak, with the same “10 o’clock” and “2 o’clock” rotation every two minutes.
Cooking time will vary depending on the temperature of your coals and the thickness of your steak. This is where an instant-read meat thermometer comes in handy. To measure the temperature of your steak, stick the end of the thermometer into the middle of the steak, away from any bones. For medium rare, aim for 130 degrees F; medium, 140 degrees F; and well-done, 160 degrees F. It’s a good idea to take your steak off the grill 5-10 degrees shy of your target temperature, as it will continue to cook as it rests.
Let it restInstead of serving steak hot off the grill, let it rest 3 to 5 minutes, in a warm place, covered loosely with aluminum foil. This important step allows the steak’s natural juices to redistribute throughout the meat. If you cut into the steak too early, the juices run out.
Boost the flavor
Toppings are a nice way to garnish grilled steak while enhancing the flavor. Make a simple herbed butter topping by mixing room temperature butter with minced rosemary or chives. You can also top your steak with a chimichurri sauce made from fresh herbs, onions, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
Or, top your steak with grilled onions. Slice large onions into thick rings and brush each side with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Grill onion slices about 20 minutes or until soft and caramelized.