How to Grill the Greatest Steak of Your Life – The Skill to Grill Series

Most of us know that grilling a perfect steak is not a guaranteed venture; not even high-end steakhouses get it right every time. Following some simple strategies, any chef or grilling enthusiast can nail it every time. This is the Skill to Grill Series by Summerset – ten rules, strategies, dare I say, life lessons, so you can make the greatest steak of your life. Commit these things to memory and live by them, and forever will greatness surround you…

Choose the right cut of meat

Some cuts of meat are better than others for grilling. Rib eyes are known for their rich marbling, whereas Top Sirloin is readily available and more affordable with little marbling. A Porterhouse is considered by some to be the best of both worlds, consisting of a New York Strip and a filet mignon united by a slender T-shaped bone. Also, don’t overlook tougher, meatier cuts, like sirloin, hanger steak, skirt steak, and flank steak – just be sure to thinly slice across the grain before serving.

Get good grades with good marbling

Nothing ruins a good steak dinner like a bad steak. Prime is the highest quality designation, followed by choice and select. Look for USDA Prime or Certified Black Angus steaks if possible. Choice-grade steak is a good, less-expensive alternative, readily used in the restaurant industry. Also, pay attention to the marbling – thin white streaks of fat throughout a steak that keep the meat juicy and adds flavor. A lot of places sell poor quality meat, so choose a reputable supplier. Most importantly, form a relationship with a local butcher asking when they receive orders, how long they keep their meat, and for special cuts.

Salt early and salt again

Salt the meat at least 15 minutes before placing on the grill, some even suggest a much as a few hours before. The salt helps the cells retain water, guaranteeing juiciness, and doing it early ensures that salt is dissolved into the meat and not left on the grill grates. Sea salt is all the rage now, or use Kosher salt, but using bigger grains make for a superior crust.

Take them out early

Take the steak out of the fridge about 20 minutes before grilling to bring it to room temperature. A freezing-cold steak won’t cook evenly. Steaks at room temperature take seasoning better and will cook faster. However, meat takes time to cook so take your time and learn to enjoy cooking your steak almost as much as eating it.

Feel and control the heat

Give the grill plenty of time to preheat. Build a three-zone fire: a hot zone for searing, a medium zone for cooking, and have a safety zone to dodge any flare-ups. Grilling over high heat gives superior color and flavor. If it’s hot enough, you shouldn’t be able to hold your hand over the grates for more than 2 seconds.

Leave it alone

One of the biggest mistakes a home cook makes is continuously checking the food to see if it is done. Let the steak develop a seared crust on the grill before moving or flipping, otherwise it will stick to the grates.

Get good marks

Use the hot grill to create “cross-hatch” grill marks. Set the steak down at a 45-degree angle from the grill lines. About a quarter of the way through cooking, give it a quarter turn. Halfway through cooking, flip it once, and then give it a final quarter turn for the last bit of cooking. Keep the grill grate hot, clean, and lubricated to prevent sticking and get killer grill marks.

Use the touch test

Use your index finger to poke the steak. A rare steak feels soft and spongy, medium springs back a bit when pressed, and well done feels firm. The only purpose served by stabbing a steak is to drain out the juices. (Tip: look for beads of blood that form on the top of the steak a few minutes after it goes on the grill. That tells you it’s time to turn.) Also, large steaks continue cooking after they come off the grill, so err on the side of undercooking a steak rather than overcooking it.

Let it rest

Three to eight minutes of calm does wonders for a steak–no foil tent needed. Fibers relax, juices spread, colors are recalibrated, and flavors retained. If sliced too soon, the juices will run all over the platter rather than remaining wear it belongs – in the steak!

Make all your condiments early

Plan the meal to get the extras done early to focus solely on the grilling, preventing overcooking or serving cold steak. A great steak is good enough on its own, but consider finalizing it with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a pat of butter or compound butter, melted beef fat, or even a slather of favorite steak sauce.

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