How to Grill a Killer Steak

how to grillAfter over a year of #beefandbeer Fridays (and the occasional Saturday), I’ve learned a thing or two about how to grill a great-tasting steak. I posted this as a series of pictures on my Instagram this weekend, but wanted to turn it into a blog post to expand on a few things.

Every Friday I treat myself (and my wife) to some fancy cuts of steak. And while I prep and grill, I always crack open one of the many delicious craft beers in my exclusive basement beer fridge. I’ll take you step-by-step how to grill a steak, from the buying process, to preparation, to grilling and plating. This might not be how the best chefs in the world do it, but it’s how I’ve learned to do it and it always tastes amazing. Here goes:

Step 1: Buy the Right Cut

A killer steak starts with buying the right cut. Ever buy a cheap piece of steak, only to have it turn out dry, chewy and gross? That’s because you probably bought the wrong cut for grilling. Don’t skimp here. Cheaper cuts tend to be less tender and less flavorful, so go big! More expensive cuts are more expensive for a reason; they’re usually tender and delicious.

My favorites for grilling: ribeye, porterhouse (that’s what I made in the pics for the post), New York strip and sirloin. Here’s a great chart to help you make the right choice (click to zoom in).

Source: angus.org

A few more things to remember:

  • Buy Bone-In: Cuts of steak that still have the bone in it tend to be more flavorful, as grilling will render flavors out of the bone as you cook.
  • Steak Grading: There’s a grading system for beef that goes from less expensive and less marbling to more expensive and more marbling. It goes from no grading at all (just your generic grocery store brand) to Angus, USDA Choice and USDA Prime (this is the grade you’d get in most steak houses).
  • Cheaper = Cook Slower: In general, a cheaper cut (such as London broil, brisket or chuck roast) is tougher and benefits from slower cooking techniques (like braising or BBQ) and flavoring techniques (like marinading). High-heat grilling is a fast technique, so a pricier cut fits the bill here.

Step 2: Get Your Steak Dry

Moisture is the enemy when it comes to grilling. Get your steak to room temperature, arrange it on a large plate/pan and pat it dry on all sides with a paper towel. This ensures that you get a better char on the outside for proper grill marks and texture.

Step 3: Season Liberally

Great steak starts with great seasoning. You can usually spot someone who doesn’t know how to grill steak properly if the steak in under-seasoned. Don’t be that guy.

Keep it simple here. I like salt, pepper and sometimes garlic powder. Use a LOT of it. Mix your seasonings together in a small bowl instead of shaking each individual ingredient onto the meat. Use one hand to sprinkle and the other hand to pat the seasoning into the steak. That way you always have a non-contaminated hand to grab stuff in the kitchen and you don’t have to wash your hands a million times.

Step 4: Get Your Grill Hot!

You need high heat to get those perfect steakhouse grill marks with a crispy outside and juicy medium rare inside. Aim to get your grill between 350-375 degrees before you open the lid. Put the steaks over direct heat, close the lid and let the magic begin.

Step 5: Timing is Everything

For medium rare, cook the steak 3-4 minutes per side. Thicker cuts need more cooking time. Use a timer to keep you on task, and if you have one, an internal meat thermometer is helpful (150 degrees for medium rare).

Anything over medium rare is ruined, so if you like your steak well done, we can’t be friends.

Be patient and only flip your steaks once! It’s tempting to open the lid frequently to check the doneness, but that’s another sign of someone who doesn’t know how to grill. Trust the process. Don’t fart around with the lid open or you’ll lose precious heat and make the steak cook unevenly.

Step 6: Let ’em Rest

After 6-8 minutes total, transfer your steaks to a plate and cover them in an aluminum foil “tent” to rest. This keeps the heat in and lets them keep cooking as they rest, so always grab ’em off the grill sooner rather than later. You’ll be sorry if you wait too long and you end up with sad, grey well-done steak.

Why do steaks need to rest? Because if you slice a steak right after cooking, it bleeds out some of the juices and therefore loses flavor. It’s also visually unappealing to serve a steak that’s sitting in a pool of blood. Give it 8-10 minutes before cutting into it.

Step 7: Make a Sauce

While the steaks are resting, whip up a tasty sauce. Do you NEED a sauce? No, especially if you’ve got a great cut which will taste delicious with just salt and pepper. But we’re getting fancy here.

I like to go with a butter herb sauce, usually with garlic and a savor herb like rosemary.

  • Melt some butter in a sauce pan over medium heat (no higher or it may burn)
  • Mince some garlic and cook until golden brown
  • Sprinkle in your herbs just as the garlic is finishing cooking
  • Spoon your sauce over the resting steak

Step 8: Plate the Steak

Plate the steak with a veggie and a starch (or in you’re drinking beer like me, you can skip the starch). If you’re going to pre-slice the steak, make sure you slice along the grain (i.e. in the direction of the muscle fibers).

If you got it right, the steak should be bright pink on the inside with nice grill marks on the outside. Like this:

Step 9: Enjoy and Share with Friends!

My wife typically works late on Fridays, so I try to have a plate ready for her to eat as soon as she gets home. And of course, I give my bones to Eddie, who waits ever so patiently at the edge of the table.

How to Grill like a Boss

I hope that was helpful and that you now have the confidence to commandeer the grill with even the fanciest cuts of steak. So go pick yourself up some fresh cuts, crack open a cold one and get to work!

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