If you’re going to grill steaks, don’t mess them up or take away from their juicy goodness with some of these minor mistakes that can ruin the end results of your steak. Be grill-ready for the best steak experience by keeping these tips in mind.
Choosing the Right Piece of Steak is Vital
When it comes to steaks, we want the best stuff right!? Be sure to pay attention to the grade of the beef you purchase. Not all beef will be great on the grill, especially the lower quality cuts, with less marbling (less marbling = less fat and juiciness). For the very best stuff, prime beef is what you want to invest in. While prime costs more money, it is also the tastiest and best. Your local grocery store might not sell prime beef, but you can definitely find it for sale at butcher shops and your favorite steakhouses.
Pay attention also to the type of cut that you buy. Not all cuts of beef are good when grilled! You don’t want the lean stuff for grilling (it will more likely turn out tough and chewy). You want the cut with marbling, fat, and tender meat that will result in tender juicy goodness! A cut for the grill should be at least 1.5 inches thick, and, for the best results, choose something from the short loin or rib primals. The best cuts for grilling include the tenderloin, the ribeye, the New York strip, and t-bone, and porterhouse steaks. These cuts truly are matches made in heaven for your grill.
Avoid These Preparation Bloopers
Don’t throw those babies on the grill straight from your refrigerator! Let the steaks sit on your counter for at the very minimum 30 minutes before cooking. Keep them sealed though, whether they’re in a vacuum-sealed bag or a ziplock bag! We don’t want any weird bacteria in the mix! If you skip letting your steaks reach room temperature before cooking, the outside of your steaks will cook faster than the inside, which can result in a burnt exterior and a still raw interior.
When it comes to steaks, the goal is to have a juicy and tender inside and a delicious crisp outside. Pat down your steaks before seasoning them to get rid of any excess moisture! Wet meat will steam and not become the crisp, delicious brown crust that we so crave.
Skip the extra virgin olive oil when it comes to brushing your steaks. Its smoking point is at 320°F, but the meat should reach a temperature between 450- 500°F. This means that with oils with low smoking points, the oil will emit nasty flavors and toxic chemicals when it gets too hot. Stick with lighter oils with higher smoking points, like peanut, canola, or extra light olive oil.
Do not skimp on the seasoning! For a delicious outer crust end result, we want to load up the outside of the steak with salt and pepper. After all, it’s just the outside that will be seasoned, and if the steak is at least 1.5 inches thick, we want there to be enough flavor for the whole of it! Keep in mind, the longer you season your steaks and let them sit that way, the more time the seasoning has to work its way into the meat! Season them at least 30 minutes before cooking. For even better results, season them with salt and leave them uncovered in the refrigerator (keep them cold!) overnight.
Be Grill Ready
Don’t ruin those beautiful steaks that you spent your money on and have prepared so tenderly by cooking them on a dirty grill! Clean your grill after each use. A dirty grill will become sticky, causing your steaks to stick to it and tear. Just use a wire brush to clean your grill after each use while it’s still hot, and then top it off with a small amount of oil. Make this a routine after each use to avoid build up.
A grill that’s not hot enough will cause the outside of the steak to cook faster than the inside as well, just like if you start cooking those steaks when they’re still cold! Make sure your grill is 450-500°F. For a gas grill, that’s easier to adjust. For a charcoal grill, it requires fuel and airflow, so opening up all the vents will help to heat it up. To test the grill to see if it’s hot enough, simply hold your hand three inches above the grate and start counting. You should not be able to count past two when it’s hot enough.
The Grilling Process
Over flipping your steaks will cause them not to sear correctly. We want the outsides to get brown, crispy, and tasty, and to lock in the juices. Let the steak caramelize on the hot grill, and only flip it once. This allows for the Maillard reaction, which is a chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars, and it results in browned steaks exploding with flavor.
Accuracy is key when it comes to grilling steaks, and be sure to invest in an instant-read thermometer to check your steaks. While the exterior might look amazing and brown, the inside of your steaks could still not be fully cooked. Make sure that for however you're aiming to cook your steaks (rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well, or well done) you need to constantly check them with a thermometer.
Let them rest when they are done! Give the steaks at least 5 minutes to let the juices absorb back into them, unless you’re going for the reverse sear method! Otherwise, the juices will leak out into your plate, and not stay in your steak. Cover the steaks with foil for at least 5 minutes, and let the fibers in the steak expand and reabsorb the juices! Be sure to do this last step, and don’t let those juices escape your masterpieces after all your hard work!
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Photo Credit: Ktryna