When it comes to perfect steaks, simplicity is good

The arrival of summer is also that time of year when anyone who knows anything about barbecue seems to want to tell everyone everything they know.

Once YouTube tutorials and morning TV guest chefs have had a chance to get you to buy that home smoker, charcoal fireplace, or eight-burner propane grill, you can safely stick to your little one. charcoal bowl or gas grill. .

For the most part, those whose “perfect” steak and burger grilling techniques consist of a dozen or more steps and ingredients can be safely skipped.

Grilling well is also grilling simply, and the best grilled or broiled steak you’ll ever taste will only require three of the simplest ingredients – salt, pepper and a little oil – after you choose the actual steak cut.

It’s this selection of steaks that will ultimately make or break your chance of grilling to perfection. You can execute everything to the letter and end up with the proverbial shoe leather if you don’t start with the right cut of beef.

The only advice here is to pay the price that quality demands. Get a choice New York-style strip or rib eye steak, well marbled with fat (especially the rib eye) and about an inch thick and about 12 ounces in weight.

Talk about encouraging good cooking. Perfectly grilled steaks for six can mean a wonderfully memorable meal with friends. Ruined steaks, on the other hand, make for a miserable dinner and occasion, not to mention over $100 worth of meat that’s only good for compost.

Perhaps ironically, two of the most important steps in cooking this wonderful meat involve no cooking at all.

The first step is to take the steaks out of the fridge and bring them to room temperature. A cold steak will take longer to reach the ideal temperature, resulting in uneven cooking, a tougher texture and less moisture.

This attention to temperature is extremely important. Until you become a master griller – someone who can judge a steak’s perfect doneness by a glance at the char and juices and a flick of the tongs – it’s all about temperatures: the room temperature to start cooking, the appropriate temperature for finishing, and a temperature. cool before eating to ensure ideal texture and juiciness.

You will also start cooking at a higher temperature than the finish, and this will require your BBQ to have a hood/cover, so you can maintain a hot oven-like heat after moving your steak from cooking to high, direct heat. source to an indirect source after the initial seizure. This will ensure even and thorough cooking without burning. You can turn off the gas burner(s) on the other side of your grill to get that “cooler” area, or you can push your charcoal to one side of the bowl to get the same thing.

You’ll need an instant-read thermometer before you gain the experience to produce great steaks every time. A decent thermometer can be purchased for $15 to $50 (don’t be tempted, say, by four-probe Bluetooth remote thermometers for hundreds of dollars; simple is better).

So let the steak rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Pat the meat dry (pat the meat with a paper towel before seasoning can mean better browning by reducing the flash of steaming that occurs when the steak touches a hot surface), rub lightly with oil (canola or extra virgin olive), then add lots (lots!) of freshly cracked black pepper. Sprinkle kosher salt liberally over the meat just before you begin cooking on the preheated grill. (If you salt the steak too soon, it will start to draw out moisture which will “build up” and, again, steam the surface of the meat as you try to get that flavorful doneness.)

If you’re cooking on a gas or charcoal grill, it’s best to sear both sides of the steak over high heat early in the cooking process. And that first flip should be the only time you touch the meat again during cooking, except for moving it to the cooler, indirect-heat side after searing and finally placing it on the serving platter.

Using only tongs, place the steak on the cooking surface. (And be aware that piercing the meat in any way during cooking with barbecue forks or while cutting it to check for doneness are capital crimes, even for beginners.) Sear about 1 1/2 to two minutes of each side before moving the steaks over to the indirect heat side of the grill. Close the hood and cook for another five to seven minutes, depending on the thickness of the steaks and what your instant-read thermometer is telling you.

Most purists reject anything other than rare or medium-rare in terms of sublime steak flavor. The internal temperature should be between 130°F and 140°F for medium-rare to medium-rare doneness, with around 130° providing the desired red to pink finish of a perfect medium-rare steak.

And that’s all. Almost.

Now comes another very important step in the “cooking” process: allowing the meat to sit and cool gently on a tray, covered with aluminum foil, for five to 10 minutes while the juices redistribute throughout the steak from of its surface.

Cutting the meat without this happening first will drain the juices from the steak, ruining all your good work up to this point.


Dino S. Williams