If you want to become the King of the Barbecue among your friends and family, you have to be able to grill the perfect steak. After all, nothing can be more frustrating than chewing on a piece of steak that’s tough, dry, and lacking in flavor.
That’s why we’ve come up with this comprehensive guide that teaches you all the tips and tricks to be able to grill the perfect steak over the barbie each time, every time.
Getting the Right Cut
Grilling a perfect steak all starts with choosing the right cut of beef. By that, we don’t usually mean expensive. In fact, there are lots of really inexpensive cuts you could use to grill a perfect steak. Here are eight really good steak cuts that are perfect for grilling, which can fit any budget.
One of the most popular steak cuts used for grilling, this cut is taken from the front of the short loin. It gets its name because of the bone shaped liked a big letter “T” that cuts right through the center of the steak.
This steak cut is taken from the rear end of the short loin and is often mistaken for T-bone because it has a distinctive T-shaped bone along the center of the cut. That said, it’s a great alternative to using for T-bone lovers.
The Strip steak cut is also known by a variety of names like New York strip, Kansas City steak, shell steak, and even First Cut. Many people like this cut because it’s got loads of flavor, thanks to the rich marbling of fat around the meat. However, since there’s quite a bit of sinew in it as well, it can be quite a tricky cut to grill.
Filet mignon is a steak cut taken from the tenderloin—a lean, cylindrical-shaped muscle that’s found underneath the ribcage and very close to the backbone. It’s one of the most expensive steak cuts out there because it’s so tender. But because there is very little fat found here, it not as flavorful as the other cuts of beef so you need to make sure that you marinade this well before grilling.
Also called Rib steak, this is a very juicy and well-marbled piece of steak taken from the upper ribcage area. The combination of fat and the rib attached to this cut makes this a very flavorful cut that’s easy to grill, perfect for beginners to the barbecue grill.
Another very favorite steak cut, sirloin steaks are very rich in flavor. If you’re choosing a sirloin cut for grilling, make sure that you get the top sirloin. This is slightly more tender than the bottom sirloin, which is commonly used as the ground for hamburgers.
Flat iron steak
This steak cut is increasingly becoming popular among hard-core steak lovers because it’s very tender, well-marbled to give it a lot of flavors, and yet relatively inexpensive than other more traditional cuts of steak. It’s a great alternative if you love filet mignon but find it to be out of your budget.
Contrary to its name, this steak cut is taken from the abdomen region, giving it such a rich beef flavor. At the same time, it’s also very fibrous. That being said, it’s one of the steak cuts that should never be cooked more than medium rare. Otherwise, it will become tough to cut and chew.
Buy your steaks from a butcher
If want to grill the perfect steak, make sure that you use a thick cut of beef. While they do take longer to cook, especially if you like your steaks well done, thicker cuts make it easier for you to give your steaks that nice crust without overcooking the inside.
As a rule of thumb, the ideal thickness for steaks to be grilled over the barbecue is between 1 ½ inches and 2 inches. Unfortunately, most steak cuts sold in supermarkets are usually between 1 inch and one ¼ inches, so it’s advisable to go to a butcher shop and get your steak cuts directly from there.
Thaw your steaks to room temperature
Make sure that your steaks are kept at room temperature before grilling. This will make sure that you grill your steaks evenly. If you grill the steak as soon as it comes out of the freezer or refrigerator, the outer part of the steak will cook more quickly than the inner part, so you end up with an overcooked crust and an undercooked inside part of the meat.
Dry rubs work best for marinades
Dry rubs made of spices, herbs, salt, and pepper work best for grilling the perfect steak for many reasons. First, dry rubs cling onto the meat more, so you’re able to get the most of the flavor and not have to worry about it getting all over the grill.
Second, dry rubs help not only build flavor but also tenderize the meat. Dry rubs draw out moisture from the meat. But since they got nowhere to go, the moisture is reabsorbed by the meat, along with the flavors from the dry rub.
It’s recommended to marinade your steaks for at least 40 minutes in the dry rub. You can, of course, leave it longer especially for tougher cuts like sirloin and flank steaks to help make the meat much more tender.
Prep Up Your Grill
One of the biggest mistakes of most beginners when it comes to grilling steaks is to have all of the charcoal right in the center of the grill.
The best way to prepare your charcoal grill is to divide it into two zones. The first zone is the hot area of the grill. This is where you put all your charcoals and where you’ll sear your steak to get that nice crust. The second side is the cold zone. This is where you put the steak for the inside to cook to your preferred doneness without risking that you overcook the outer part of your crust.
Follow the Rule of Threes
The Rule of Three means that you allow the steak flip your steak every three minutes.
Once you put your steak on the grill, place this in the hot zone and cover this. Let this grill for three minutes. Then, flip it over to the other side, still on the hot zone, and cover this for another three minutes. This will give you an absolutely grilled crust to your steak.
After this, flip your steak again. This time put this in the cold zone without the cover. Allow this to grill for another three minutes. Do the same for the other side.
Baste using herb bunches
It is important to baste your steaks each time you flip it so that it stays moist and tender. But instead of using a pastry brush to baste your steaks, use a bunch of herbs—preferrably thyme, rosemary or sage branches—for applying the baste onto the herbs. The heat from the steaks will release the oils from the leaves of the herbs onto the meat, giving it added flavor.
Check the steak’s temp for doneness
Barbecue grills cook steaks in varying times based on their fuel and type. The best way then for you to check if your steak is done is to check its temperature using a digital thermometer. Below is a table of the temperatures (in Fahrenheit and Celsius) and its corresponding doneness:
One important thing to remember if you want to grill the perfect steak is that steaks continue cooking even after they are removed from the grill. That said, it’s recommended to remove your steak from the grilling a few degrees before reaching these temperatures to avoid them from getting overcooked.
Allow your steak to rest
Another common mistake people made when it comes to grilling steaks is to cut them up as soon as they are taken off from the grill. When you do this, it causes all the juices from your steak to come rushing out, so you’re left with a dry, chewy steak.
Giving your steak to rest for about five minutes allows your steak to reabsorb all the juices back into the meat so that you get a tender and juicy steak. The best way to do this is to take out the steak from the grill a few degrees below your desired doneness and then wrap it in an aluminum foil. The residual heat from the steak will cause it to continue cooking to your desired doneness while allowing the juices to be reabsorbed by the meat.
One Final Tip…
Once your steak is all ready to be carved, make sure that you cut this across the grain. This will contribute to making your steak more tender when you chew on it without causing a lot of the juices to be released.