The Rudiments of Excellent Steak Grilling

Oct 22, 2019 09:28 PM EDT | By Staff Reporter

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The Rudiments of Excellent Steak Grilling

(Photo : The Rudiments of Excellent Steak Grilling )

Grilling a steak to perfection is both a science and an art and there are many ways for this small miracle to horribly wrong, especially without some perspective and experience. But, by understanding the following 10 principles of perfecting the grilled steak, you too can be on the way to steak mastery. 

1. Warming Up

It is important that the steak is allowed to rise to room temperature before cooking. If you pass the steak from fridge to grill the result will be disappointing. According to Chef Rob Levitt the grill master at Chicago's The Butcher & Larder, "Forget this step, and the outsides will be burnt while the insides are mostly grey with a dab of pink".

2. Assess Thickness

The 1.5 - 2 inch rule of thumb is not merely aesthetic preference for New York strips or Rib eye. This figure represents the perfect thickness that will allow the inside to reach a perfect temperature just as the exterior reaches the perfect char.  

3. Three Stages of Salting

The first time you salt your steak will be about a couple of hours before you begin to grill. Lightly slat the steaks on either side and place them on a wire rack. The salt will allow the steak to retain water, making it extra juicy when ready. Before you grill the steak, you will want to pat them dry with a paper towel and generously salt them some more. This time you can use those coarser grains of thicker salt to create a perfect crust. Finally, at the table when the steak is sliced and served, sprinkle lightly with some fleur de sel to bring out the flavor. If you really want to add some flavour to steak then make brown butter and add a nuttier taste to the meat

4. Crack Your Own Pepper

Pepper is an essential condiment that adds a distinctive flavor and an important texture experience. You will want the whole selection of fine, medium and large grinds. How can you achieve such a versatile grind, just place the peppercorns in a plastic bag apply pressure with a large skillet

5. Build a Two-Zone Fire

When you grill you will need two cooking zones a hot zone for searing and a not-quite-so-hot-zone for finishing the meat. Gas grills are easy because you simply place one side on low, while the other is on full blast. With a coal grill, use your tongs to begin relocating constructing a ramp of hot coals climbing to one side. 

6. Feel the Heat

It can be difficult to gauge the temperature of your hot coals at first. First, allow the flames to die down and reveal only glowing coals. Then you can use the 2/2 Rule. Place your hand two inches above the hottest part of the coals, if you can keep your hand there for a full 2 seconds, then your coals are ready to grill. 

7. Manage Flare-Ups

The dripping fat from the steak on the hot coals below doesn't just scorch the steak but adds a carcinogenic quality best avoided. Water is a bad idea as this will kick up ashes. Placing the lid down will just not smother the flames fast enough, so what to do? Using the tongs, slide your steak over to the side of the grill that is not on fire, until the dancing flames subside. Be gentle with the meat as the more you agitate it, the more it will throw fats all over the place. 

8. Use Real Charcoal

For best results, use a hardwood charcoal rather than those neat little briquettes. This can come from oak, apple, or hickory as long as it looks like it was a piece of wood and not a fabricated chunk of construction scraps. This will ensure your steak tastes faintly of smoke rather than chemicals. 

9. Don't Guess-Use a Thermometer

Guesswork will leave you tripping at the finish line. Instead. Use an Instant-Read thermometer and you will be sure to get it right the first time. The ThermoWorks' ChefAlarm is a terrific option that we recommend. 

10. Let the Meat Rest

Giving the steak a full ten-minutes to rest will completely change the experience -- no need for the foil tent either. This allows the juices to spread, the fibers to relax and the colors to recalibrate to perfection. Your patience will be rewarded with this crowning touch -- don't rush this stage and risk tainting your perfectly grilled steak.

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