Grilling is a favorite pastime, and although summer is the most popular season for outdoor barbecuing and grilling, many people find it enjoyable to cook steaks on the grill year round. As owner of M.R. Meat Markets, a family-run meat shop, I have learned a lot about different cuts of steak and the best way to prepare them over the years. I wanted to share some basics with you to help you learn or improve your grilling technique.
Selecting Steak Cuts
Most people haven’t learned about cuts of steaks, but it’s important to learn the basics so you have an understanding of certain cuts, their tastes and how to bbq them so you maximum taste and tenderness.
Ribeye: This steak is cut from the rib section of a beef cow or steer before it is cooked. It contains several different muscle groups, and the meat taken from closer to the front of the steer has a larger cap that surrounds the fat portion of the steak.
Prime Rib: Prime rib steaks are taken from the same part of the cow or steer as the ribeye, but they are typically cut from a standing rib roast and contain the bone. Both ribeye steaks and prime rib steaks contain tasty, marbled fat that have a fine, smooth texture, making them delicious choices for the grill.
Tenderloin: The tenderloin steak comes from the portion under the ribs and near the backbone of the cow or steer. Since these muscles do little work, the tenderloin steaks are extremely tender.
T-Bone: TboneSteaks contain a bone shaped like the letter “T” and are taken from the short loin section, which is toward the front section of the cow or steer. TboneSteaks feature a wonderful balance of tenderness and flavour.
New York Strip: Sometimes called New York Striploin steaks, these cuts are taken from the rear-end of the animal. New York Striploin steaks have a tighter texture, which makes it a somewhat tender cut. It has a nice flavour and some marbling but doesn’t have large areas of fat, which makes it simple to grill.
On To The BBQ Grill
Now that we have those definitions out of the way, I can get to the fun part: the best way to prepare and grill those delicious steaks.
Select a thick cut. I generally suggest that my customers select a thicker cut of steak for grilling, which provides a little more leeway on the grill. It’s easier to obtain that crispy outside and juicy inside balance with a thicker cut. Select a width of greater than one inch, up to one-and-a-half inches, for a perfect grilling steak.
Sprinkle with salt early. About an hour before grilling, or even the night before, I always season my steaks liberally with salt. Salt pulls moisture from the meat and then returns the moisture to the steak itself, making it more tender.
Consider a marinade. Although a simple seasoning of salt and pepper can result in a delicious steak, it can be fun to experiment with marinades as well. Prepare half a cup of marinade for every pound of steak. A basic marinade should be half oil to carry the flavours and adhere to the meat. Adding some acidic-based ingredient like apple cider vinegar or lemon juice will help tenderize the meat and infuse flavour. The rest of the marinade can be made up of anything that suits the cook. Consider garlic, worcestershire sauce, hot peppers, ginger or any combination of spices and herbs.
Take it out of the refrigerator. By allowing steaks to warm up to room temperature before throwing them on the BBQ grill, I find that they cook more quickly and evenly.
Select a fuel. If I’m using a coal grill, I always select a hardwood coal like mesquite to add the smoky flavour to my steaks. If I’m using briquettes or a gas grill, I cook my steaks a little longer as they don’t get as hot as hardwood coals.
Start with a cool grill. I place my steaks on the cool side of the grill, either set lower with a gas grill or on the side without the hot coals. I prefer to grill my steaks for longer at a slower rate, which allows more control and even cooking. The crispy outside tends to develop more slowly during this process, and I can always throw them on the hot side of the grill at the end to finish them if needed. Final searing should only take a minute or two on each side.
Turn meat frequently. By flipping steaks regularly over a lower heat, I find that the meat cooks more evenly. I never use a fork to turn my steaks because the juices will leak out if the steaks are poked. A metal grilling spatula or tongs work best.
Check internal temperatures. Starting with a thicker cut of steak makes checking the internal temperature of the meat easier.
Here are guidelines:
* Rare steaks: 120° F or 48.8° C
* Medium rare steaks: 130° F or 54.4° C
* Medium steaks: 140° F or 60° C
* Medium well steaks: 150° F or 65.5° C
* Well done steaks: 160° F or 71.1° C
Remove the steak early. When my steak reaches its ideal temperature minus 5° F, I take it off the grill to allow it to rest and finish cooking with its own heat. I like to grab my side dishes and finish those last-minute meal preparations while allowing the muscles in the steak to relax and distribute the juices more evenly through the steak.
Enjoy a tasty meal. Finally, it’s time to sit down with that delicious, perfectly grilled steak and some favorite side dishes and beverages for a relaxing dinner.