Grilling Series #3: How To Grill Steaks

How To Grill Steaks

Now that you’ve got your grill ready, it’s time to make you the Grill Master. 

One: Only Flip Once

Keep away from overturning your steak, Let the Maillard reaction do its thing. That’s the technical name for the chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars, that gives browned and caramelized food its distinctive flavor. Ideally, you should turn the steak once on each side to get those cross-hatch grill marks, and only flip it once.

Two: Avoid Individual Steaks for a Crowd

For groups, don’t be afraid to go with one large steak, like a 32-ounce rib eye or a 36-ounce porterhouse. One large steak is easier to manage and monitor on a grill than multiple smaller ones, and armed with a good thermometer, any cook can nail a perfect medium-rare every time. Because of the internal variation of cooking times within one steak, you can accommodate diners who prefer medium rare and medium well.

Three: A Meat Thermometer is your Best Friend (even for pros!)

Temping a steak by hand can be tricky. It takes a ton of practice and a ton of experience. What happens when you hit a muscle knot? 

Don’t have a meat thermometer on hand? Try using metal cake testers. Metal cake testers are the best tool you can use for finding the perfect steak doneness. Insert the metal tester into the steak, leave it for five seconds, then pull it out and touch it to your lips or inner wrist. The internal temp of the steak will tell you how done it is. If it’s cold, your steak is rare; if it’s just warm, medium-rare; slightly hot, medium, etc. Plus, cake testers are less than a dollar, and you can get them in the baking section at your local store.

Here’s our steak doneness guideline:

Rare: 120-130°F 
Medium Rare: 130-135°F
Medium: 140-145°F
Medium Well: 150-155°F
Well: 160-165°F

Four: Let it Rest

Cooking the steak to 10 degrees below your desired temp and then resting it allows for the collagen in the meat to thicken the juices as it cools slightly. This results in a juicier steak than simply cooking it to temperature.

Just because the steak is removed from the pan does not mean it has finished cooking. Keep it in a warm place; you don’t want a cold steak, and rest it for about as long as you cook it. Most chefs suggest allowing the steak to rest for half the cooking time before serving. So if your steak takes 10 minutes to cook, let it rest for five minutes.

If you’re not able to keep the steak warm while it rests, or you want to eat it quite hot, return the steak to the grill after it’s rested and bring it up to the internal temperature of your preference before eating.

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