Grilling steaks is pretty straightforward if you want it to be good. However, if you want to grill the perfect steak, then it might take you years to master this art. Nevertheless, you can speed up the learning process by using the following 10 tips from experts.
Go to the Butcher
Although many people buy their meat at the supermarket, a far better option would be to go to the butcher whenever you get a chance. On top of that, you should put in some effort to get to really know your butcher and ask when they receive orders. This way, you will know exactly when the meat is fresh.
You should find out information on how long they usually keep their steaks if they don’t manage to sell them. Keep in mind that butchers will always help you get the best meat possible, so it’s a good idea to ask them to cut meat just for you.
Doing your research in order to find the best product is usually going to be your biggest challenge when it comes to grilling the perfect steak. The highest grade of beef available on the market today is USDA Prime beef. Unfortunately, this type of meat accounts for just 1.5 percent of the beef in the United States. In case you find out that your butcher has quality dry-aged beef, then you’ve hit the jackpot. Ideally, you should get a piece of meat that has been aged 15-30 days.
In case you don’t really have the budget for a cut of USDA Prime beef, you can always go with the USDA Choice steaks. These are also very delicious cuts of meat that are more moderately priced. The USDA Choice steaks come from the rib and loin part of the meat.
Get a Bone-In
Bone-in steaks will require more patience, but they’re the tastier option. Even though they take a longer amount of time to cook, you can always bet on the bone to enhance the flavor of the meat. After all, this is one of the reasons why T-bone steaks are so delicious.
Know Which Charcoal to Use
If you want to grill the perfect steak, you will need to get the right charcoal. There are two main varieties of charcoal. The first is lump charcoal, which is more expensive and burns faster. However, it’s also natural and produces little ash. On top of that, it lights very quickly and burns hotter than briquettes.
On the other hand, briquettes represent the cheaper option that also burns longer. But it produces a chemical smell and a lot of ash, which is definitely a bad thing. Not only that, but it takes a lot longer to light. If you have enough money to afford lump charcoal, you should definitely go with that option.
Get a Thick Steak
One of the best ways to ensure that your steak is grilled perfectly is to carefully choose the thickness. The next time you go shopping for steak, make sure to get one that is at least an inch thick. Keep in mind that some people even prefer steaks that are up to two inches thick, since it allows them to get that stunning red center.
Before you start seasoning your steaks, you should first coat it with a blend of canola and olive oil. However, it’s important that you lightly coat the steak. This is a very important step in the process of preparation because the oil will ultimately make the meat juicier. Not only that, but it will help aid the charring of the steak’s surfaces.
Season Your Steaks Early
Seasoning your steaks right before you throw them on the grill is not a good idea. Doing this will make a portion of the seasoning to get on the grill. Instead, you should do this between 15 to 20 minutes before the grilling process. This way, you will ensure that the seasoning dissolves on your meat.
Use the Right Kind of Salt
Seasoning your steak with true sea salt is always recommended. When you pair a good piece of meat with any true sel gris or fleur de sel type seas salt, you will get a wonderful steak. Avoiding iodized or table salt is a must since they have more weight to volume, which means that you may end up over seasoning your stake. Feel free to use kosher salt as well, since it’s basically the same as sea salt.
It’s worth noting that any time you are in doubt over whether you’ve seasoned your steaks properly, you should add more salt. Even when you think it’s enough, it’s still recommended that you add a bit more salt, since it’s the most important ingredient. After all, a big portion of it actually falls off during the grilling.
Have the Right Tools near You
You won’t need a lot of tools to cook the perfect steak. In fact, you should only stick to the basics. The three tools that need to be near you when you start preparing the meat include the grill itself, the grill brush, as well as the grill tongs. Once you have these basic tools at your disposal, you can be sure that you’re prepared to make a great steak.
Of course, it’s recommended that you do some research on which tools you should get. For example, when you’re buying a grill brush, you want one that is easy to clean. On the other hand, if you want to work over high temperatures without any problems then your grill tongs should come with long handles.
Make Sure Your Grill is Very Hot
You shouldn’t really throw the steak on the grill if the charcoal isn’t fully caught and heated up. Make sure that the heat is spread evenly across the grill with minimal smoke and flames. Having a very hot grill will ensure that your steak becomes caramelized on the outside and tender on the inside.
Find the Hot Spots before You Start Grilling
Even if you try your best to make sure the heat is spread evenly across the grill, there’s a good chance that it will still have hot spots. In other words, there will probably always be spots on your grill where there is a higher temperature than other areas due to the grates. If you want to find the hot spots on your grill then you should simply place a piece of white bread on it and let it cook for ten seconds. Afterwards, turn it over and place it on a different part of the grill. Locate the hot spots by determining which side of bread is darker.
Don’t Throw Cold Steaks on the Grill
By throwing cold steaks on the grill, you will have a hard time cooking the interior to be red and juicy. Remember that the cooking time for a cold steak is much longer, so you might see it turn gray and dry below the surface. In order to avoid these issues, you should keep your steaks at room temperature for a half an hour.
Don’t Cut the Steak to Determine Whether It’s Done
There are much better ways to see if a steak is done than to cut it. Depending on how you like your steaks, you should use the following methods:
- Well-Done – If you want your steak to be well-done, you can squeeze the base. If it’s firm, you have a well-done steak.
- Medium – If you like your steaks medium, then you should press on it with the middle of the palm of your hand. If it feels firm, then it’s done.
- Rare – To determine whether a steak is rare, you can squeeze it with the base of your thumb. If you notice that it feels spongy with little resistance, then it’s done.
Don’t Buy Enhanced Beef
If you want to prepare a tasty steak, then you should avoid beef with the word enhanced on the label at all costs. Know that these labels indicate that the meat was injected with additives, which can greatly impact its taste. Instead, you should search for grass-fed beef. This is not only the healthier option, but the tastier as well.
Leave the Fat
A lot of people don’t like fat and cut off all of it when preparing a steak. Although it may look gross on the sides of your uncooked steak, remember that it gives it taste. By leaving even a little fat, you will prepare a much tastier meal.
Don’t Overturn It
Overturning your steak can leave you with disastrous results. Many people make the mistake of flipping them way more often than they should. To grill the perfect steak, you should simply turn it once on each side.
Don’t Cover It with Other Flavors
If you can grill a beautiful steak, then there is really no need to cover it with different flavors. All your steak needs to be perfect is some black pepper and salt.
Use Marinade If You Have Cuts of Lesser Quality
Even though marinades should be avoided if you have a quality steak in your hands, you should use them to make steaks of lesser quality tastier. You can easily prepare a marinade at home by using some standard ingredients like olive oil, Dijon mustard, garlic, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar.
Use Your Meat Thermometer
Even pros use meat thermometers when they’re grilling steaks. Keep in mind that determining the temperature of a steak by hand is incredibly hard and you may not be able to do it even if you have a lot of experience. Depending on the temperature, you will know what to aim for. For example, if you want your steak to be rare, then you should aim somewhere between 120 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit. If medium rare is your goal, then it should be between 130 and 135 degrees.
A medium steak is 140 to 145 degrees, while you the temperature should be 160-165 degrees if you’re aiming for a well-done steak.
Make the Condiments Early
A lot of people make the mistake of trying to cook the rest of the meal when they’re grilling steaks. However, know that you will never be able to grill the perfect steak if you’re not able to focus all of your attention on it. With that being said, you should always make your condiments early. If you attempt to multitask, you may end up ruining both the meat and the side dish.
Let It Rest
Just because you’ve finished grilling the steak doesn’t mean that you should immediately devour it. After all, just because it’s off the grill doesn’t necessarily mean that it stopped cooking. If you immediately start cutting it, the juices will get squeezed to the outside. But if you let it rest for 7-10 minutes, they will disperse evenly throughout the steak.