Making a perfectly cooked steak can be daunting for many of us. Regularly, if we are in the mood for a good steak, we seek out fancy restaurants to provide that for us. Once you cut into a good steak, your knife should slide through the meat like butter. You will see evenness of pink throughout, with a crunchy and salty exterior, and it will taste like that of good-quality beef. Inside will be perfectly marbled with a beefy, unctuous flavor.
Now, what if I told you that the perfect steak was achievable right from the comfort of your own grill? In this post, I will teach you 7 steps to achieve the most delicious and flavorful steak that you have ever made. Fancy restaurants beware, the home cook is the new Steak Master.
Step 1: Choosing a Quality Cut of Steak
The type of meat that you choose is the foundation of grilling the perfect steak. You can’t build a house on a bad foundation; it would crumble to the ground. The same principle goes for grilling steaks. If you are going out to eat for a perfect steak (and pay big bucks for it), you should apply that same notion when shopping at the grocery store.
The less you pay for your meat, the lower the quality will be. For our purposes today, we will be focusing on Sirloin steaks, which is the section of the animal that T-Bone, Porterhouse, and Filet Mignon come from.
There are different levels of meat quality. Where you live in the world will depend on the type of meat quality classifications in your area. In the US, the most common levels of beef quality are Prime, Choice, and Select in order from best to least-best. In Europe, the acronym EUROP is used to classify the qualities of meat cuts. E is the highest quality, followed by U, then R, following O, and the lowest quality of meat, P. Mid-quality beef is most commonly found in major grocery stores.
Typically for the higher grade of beef, you may need to look outside the grocer and try an independent butcher or farmer. Some specialty grocery stores now sell high quality cuts, so keep an eye on what is available in your area. The higher the quality, the more expensive the cut will be.
No matter where you are, you get what you pay for. The more expensive the steak, the more flavorful and delicious it will be. A very expensive steak will have more marbling, meaning there will be more intramuscular fat intertwined throughout the steak. When cooking a quality steak, fat equals flavor.
Step 2: Allow to Come to Temperature Before Grilling
Temperature is extremely important when grilling a perfect steak. Ideally, a steak should never be frozen prior to cooking because some chefs believe that the freezing process compromises the texture in the final dish. If you must freeze your steak prior to cooking it, be sure that it defrosts slowly in the refrigerator for 48 hours until completely thawed.
If you are working with a steak that has not been frozen, you will still want to allow your steak to come to room temperature before grilling. Remove your cold steak from the fridge 30 minutes before grilling. The reason we do this is to ensure evenness of cooking when tossing the steak on the grill. A cold steak will take longer to cook than a room temperature steak will.
If part of your steak is thicker than another part, the thicker part will stay colder for longer. All in all, 30 minutes should be plenty of time for your steak to come to temperature. Do not allow for more time than that, as raw meat should not sit out for very long at room temperature.
Step 3: Season Lightly and Simply
There are many steak seasonings out there, chuck full of sodium, onion granules, garlic powder, sesame seeds, etc. Throw them all away! There is no need for all that extra stuff on a good steak, and all of those dried spices will burn up on the grill. Those seasonings merely cover the meatiness and uniqueness of a good steak. Let the steak do the talking.
All a perfect steak needs before hitting the grill is a good amount of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. That’s it. Any other flavors on top of that only cover up the deliciousness of the steak and do not accentuate the final product. Be sure to evenly coat both sides in salt and pepper before grilling.
Step 4: Ready the Grill
This step to a perfect steak is crucial. Grills are widely known for having some sticking problems, depending on what you are grilling. Make sure you lightly oil your grill grates as well as the steak. Using olive oil will lend a nice mild flavor and has a high smoke point, so olive oil can handle the heat of the grill. Using something like butter has a low smoke point, and would burn immediately as it hits the heat, so olive oil is best.
Also, ensure that you have a hot side on the grill, and a cooler side. When readying your coals, using a charcoal chimney is a perfect way to heat up the coals without any fuss. When the coals are ready, keep the majority of the coals on one side of the grill while you have fewer coals on the cooler side of the grill. Perfect steak grilling works best when you can play with the temperature between the hot and cold side. An infrared grill is perfect for getting that perfect steak, however I am more of a fan of the flame grilled style steaks!
Step 5: Sear in Juices
This step, aside from step 1, is the most crucial step. It is imperative that your perfect steak is seared at very high heat on both sides, 1-2 minutes per side. This method will ensure that you have a beautiful, crispy crust on the outside of the steak. This is also where those beautiful grill marks happen on the grill. This step is visually appealing as well as extremely delicious.
After the searing is complete and you are happy with the level of browning you have achieved, it’s time to move the steak to the cooler side of the grill. We are not looking to get much more color on the steak since we already achieved that previously. Now we are looking for level of doneness. For a medium-rare steak, you will need to continue cooking for 4-5 minutes depending on thickness.
To determine doneness, the most popular way is “the touch test”, however, this test takes years to master. The touch test is simply touching the center of the steak and knowing its level of pinkness by feel. Instead, having an instant-read thermometer is the perfect beginner’s way to ensure that your steak is perfectly cooked without cutting into the hot steak and losing juices. It is crucial to not overcook your steak.
Step 6: Resting time
Allowing your steak to rest after grilling is simply non-negotiable. Resting any meat after cooking is the best way to ensure a lovely, sliceable texture. If you cut your meat immediately after it leaves the grill, you will notice a lot of juices running all over your cutting board. This is due to the heat changing the proteins in meat; heat allows those proteins to “set up”, which is why a firmer piece of steak indicates more doneness than a “squishier” piece does.
Heat draws juices to the center of the steak while cooking, so when cutting into the hot steak, those juices leak right out onto your cutting board. Allowing the steak to rest, away from the heat, lets those juices redistribute back through the whole steak. As a result, you will have a juicer and more flavorful steak. Allow your steak to rest at least 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.
Step 7: Slicing time
And here we are, the last step to the perfect steak. The way your steak is sliced and served has everything to do with how tender the meat will be. When turning your steak to the side, you should see long strands of tissue that connect from the top to the bottom of the steak. That is known as the grain of the steak. Cutting against the grain of the steak ensures that the meat shreds apart in your mouth and is tender to chew.
If done correctly, the steak against the grain will shred apart easily when pulled taught with your fingers. Cutting a steak with the grain results in a ball of chewy meat that is hard to swallow. The long strands of meat never seem to masticate, no matter how long you chew for. It is easy to ruin your perfectly grilled steak if you do not cut against the grain when slicing.
Achieve the Perfect Steak: Treat Your Steak Like Art
At the end of a long day, there is nothing more satisfying than being able to cook your own perfect steak from your home grill. Many would say that it is a daunting process, but all it takes are 7 easy steps to ensure you achieve the perfect steak.
Beginning with locating a quality butcher or grocer to source your meat from, followed by allowing the steak to come to room temperature before grilling. Next, season your meat very simply with salt and pepper to accentuate the beefy flavor.
Using a charcoal chimney, heat your coals for your grill and make sure to create a hot and cold side of the grill. Sear your meat deeply to allow a delicious crust to form on both sides of the meat. Continue cooking on the cool side of the grill to your level of doneness. Remove your steak and allow to rest 10-15 minutes before serving. Finally, slice against the grain for the perfect bite of the perfect steak.
Why not check out our collection of Grill & BBQ Smoker Recipes!