You’ve sent out invitations and are planning to grill up some steaks for your friends. You got a brand new grill for Christmas or your birthday or you bought it for yourself and you’re determined to be crowned King of the Grill by your friends! Now you just need to know how to grill up a perfect steak, after all you don’t want your guests to be struggling to slice the steak or have it be so lacking in flavor that they cover it in steak sauce!
We’ve put together what we think is the comprehensive guide for selecting the perfect cut, grilling tips and ultimately serving your crowning glory — the perfectly grilled steak. You WILL be the King of the Grill!
How To Grill Up A Perfect Steak
It begins with the best meat
If you’re starting your grilling experience with an inferior cut of meat, you won’t be the grill master because you’re starting at a disadvantage. To grill the perfect steak you need to choose the perfect cut. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive cut of meat, but it need to be of a quality that lends itself to cooking on a grill.
- Filet mignon. This is a lean, cylinidrical-shaped muscle found under the ribcage that is taken from the tenderloin. It is one of the most expensive cuts and the reason for that is because it’s so tender. There is very little fat in this cut which makes it not as flavorful as other cuts. You may need to marinate the filet mignon to enhance its flavor profile.
- Flank steak. The cut is taken from the abdominal area, and it has a rich flavor. It is also fibrous and doesn’t lend itself to a more than medium rare grilling. If it’s cooked more than medium, it will be tough.
- Flat iron steak. This is a popular cut among steak lovers because it’s marbled, flavorful, inexpensive and very tender. It’s a great alternative to filet mignon.
- Porterhouse steak. This is taken from the rear of the cow, is often mistaken for a t-bone because of the t-shaped bone in the center of the cut. It is an alternative for budget conscious shoppers who love t-bone steaks.
- Rib eye steak. This is a well-marbled, juicy steak taken from the upper ribcage. It is perfect for beginning grill masters to cook.
- Sirloin steak. This is a steak very rich in flavor. If you’re going to grill your sirloin, ask for a cut that is called top sirloin as it will be slightly more tender. Sirloin is typically used in burgers.
- Strip steak. This cut is also called: Kansas City steak, shell steak, First Cut, New York Strip. It is a flavorful cut of meat because of the marbling. It does have a bit fo sinew and can be tricky for beginning grill masters.
- T-bone steak. This is a highly popular cut for grilling. It is named because of the large “t” shaped bone that is in the center of the steak.
Where should you shop for your steak?
To grill the perfect steak you need to start with the perfect steak. Sure you can buy a “good” steak at the local grocery store, but if you’re looking for a GREAT steak, go to the butcher and ask for a thick cut of beef. The thicker cut allows the grillmaster to get those prized grill char marks without overcooking the steak. For those who like their steaks well done (noooo!) a thick cut allows it to be well done without being overcooked.
Ask the butcher to cut the steaks between one and a half and two inches thick. Ask him for his advice on the best cut for your grilling menu.
Prepping the steak
Let the steaks sit at room temperature before you grill. This allows it to cook more evenly than will a cold steak. A refrigerator-temperature steak will cook more quickly on the inside leaving the outside undercooked. The result: an unevenly cooked steak and your chance of gaining the crown diminished!
Steaks benefit from dry rubs that include:
Dry rubs adhere to the meat and don’t cover the flavor of the steak — they enhance it.
A dry rub enhance the flavor AND tenderizes the meat by drawing out the steak’s moisture; the moisture has no where to go so it is resorbed back into the meat and that just makes it taste so much better!
Put on the dry rub about thirty minutes prior to grilling. It can be on longer, just not much shorter of a time. A dry rub marinade is especially useful to tenderize the tougher cuts like flank or sirloin steaks.
Get the grill steak-ready
Don’t be so eager to serve the steaks that you rush the grill prep. One of the biggest mistakes beginning grillmasters make it to pile the charcoal in the center of the grill. This leads to hot spots and doesn’t leave much room for indirect heating cooking.
Divide the grill into two zones
- Zone one is the hot area of the grill. This is where you put the charcoal and where you sear the steak to get the crusty grill marks
- Zone two is the cold zone. This is where the steaks will rest to allow the inside to cook to the preferred doneness
Grilling Rules of Three
What is the Rule of Three? It means you flip the steak every three minutes.
- Put the steak on the grill. Place it in the hot zone and cover it.
- Grill for three minutes.
- Flip it over. Keep it on the hot zone and cover it.
- Grill for three minutes. This gives a beautiful charred crust.
- Flip the steak again. Put t in the cold zone and cook without the cover.
- Grill for three minutes.
- Flip and repeat from step 5.
Because each grill is different, you need to check the steak using a digital thermometer. Many thermometers will offer temperature and doneness ratings to let you know where the steak you’re cooking is on the medium to well-done and everything in between scale
Remember, steaks continue to cook even after they’re off the grill. It’s recommended that you remove the steak from the grill when it’s a few degrees before the temperature/doneness you’re seeking. If you don’t, you risk overcooking the steak.
Let it rest
We know you’re hungry! But don’t make a beginning grillmaster mistake by takign the steak off and immediately cutting into it. Let it rest!
If you cut into it immediately, the juices run out and you’re left with a dry steak. Let the steak rest for five minutes to let it reabsorb its juices so you get a tender and juicy steak. Use the time the steak is resting to finish setting the table and topping off your guests’ drinks!
To assure the steaks are up to the proper temp (if you’ve taken them off the grill at a lower temperature) cover them with foil to let the residual heat continue cooking it.
Enjoy, but first…
You’ve purchased and grilled the perfect steak. Don’t stop now by cutting it “incorrectly!” After the steak is on your plate, carve it across the grain. This will help the steak remain tender and delicious.
Wear your King of the Grill crown with pride!