How to Grill Steak in 10 Easy Steps
Getting ready for summer means buying too many beach towels, trying to find a friend with a pool, and learning how to grill steak properly. (The latter is the most important, obviously.) A perfectly-cooked steak is the pinnacle of achievement in the grilling world, but it’s an easy thing to mess up if you don’t know what you’re doing. Commit these 10 rules to heart, and you won’t need to rely on your watch or even a recipe. The skill to grill will forever be in your bones.
1. Let It Warm Up
Take the steak out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature about an hour before you cook it. Skip this step and the outcome will disappoint. As Rob Levitt of Chicago’s The Butcher & Larder describes it: “The outside will be charred and the inside will be mostly gray meat with a little nugget of red in the middle.”
2. Consider the Thickness
One-and-a-half to two inches is not some arbitrary measurement when it comes to hefty cuts like rib eye or New York strip. Rather, this thickness ensures that your steak will achieve the perfect char on the outside just as the interior reaches the ideal temperature.
3. Salt, Salt, and Salt Again
A few hours before you grill, lightly sprinkle both sides of the steak with salt; put it on a wire rack set on a rimmed baking sheet. The salt helps the cells retain water, guaranteeing juicy meat. Before placing it on the grill, pat dry with paper towels, and generously salt the meat again. (Use kosher salt; the bigger grains make for a superior crust.) Finally, pass some fleur de sel at the table to sprinkle over the sliced steak for more flavor.
4. Crack Your Own Pepper
Pepper not only adds an element of spice to steak, it also adds crunch. You want a combination of fine, medium, and big pieces. To achieve this, pour whole peppercorns in a resealable plastic bag and crush them with a heavy skillet.
5. Build a Two-Zone Fire
You want a hot side to sear the meat and a not-so-hot side to finish the cooking. If you’ve got a gas grill, that’s easy: Keep one burner on low while the others go full blast. If you’re cooking over coals, use your tongs to build a ramp of embers climbing up to one side of the grill to create high-low control.
6. Feel the Heat
How do you know when the coals are ready? Once the flames have died down and the coals are glowing orange, use the 2-2 rule: Put your hand two inches above the hottest part of the coals. If you can hold it there for two seconds—no more, no less—you’re good to grill.
7. Control Flare Ups
Dripping fat + hot coals = scorched, carcinogenic steak. Don’t use a spritz bottle of water to douse the flames—you’ll kick up ash. And putting the lid on the grill won’t smother the fire fast enough. To get that rib eye out of harm’s way, gently slide it to a flare-free area with tongs until the fire subsides. (If you throw the meat around, you’ll shake out more fat and start another fire.)
8. Use Real Charcoal
Hardwood lump charcoal burns hotter and faster than manufactured briquettes. It doesn’t matter if you use oak or mesquite, as long as it looks like it came from a tree and not construction scraps. You want your steak to taste faintly of smoke, not chemicals.
9. Don’t Guess—Use a Thermometer
A temperature of 125 degrees means medium-rare. Instant-read thermometers guarantee you’ll get it right. We recommend ThermoWorks’ ChefAlarm ($59).
10. Let the Meat Rest
Ten minutes of resting does wonders for a steak—no foil tent needed. Fibers relax. Juices spread. Colors are recalibrated and flavors retained. Think of it as a disco nap for protein. Remember: Patience is a virtue. You’ve come this far; do not squander porterhouse perfection.Recipes | July 15th, 2020