the Perfect Steak
Fundamentally, there are only two things you need to posses in order
to cook the perfect steak - ample prep-time and abundant patience.
A little known fact is that
the pre-grill preparation is as important as the grilling process itself.
To begin with, your steaks should be at room temperature before you even
look at your barbeque. Here’s a
useful (and convenient) way of timing: If you remove your steak from the
fridge, replacing it with a room temperature six-pack, you’ll be
ready to start prepping your meat at about the same time that your beer’s
cold enough to drink.
The clock doesn’t really start ticking though, until you’ve
fired up the barbeque. If you’re cooking with coals, you’ll
have about half an hour from when you touch flame to briquette and a little
less if you’re cooking with gas. While there’s merit in both
methods, charcoal is the flavorful choice for the true aficionado so we’re
going to move forward under the presupposition that you agree…
Start with a basic seasoning.
However you eventually choose to coat, cover or otherwise accent your
steak, it’s imperative that you begin
with a liberal dose of salt and pepper. Sprinkle each side of your meat
generously with both and rub with garlic clove halves for a little extra
zing. Now here’s the important part: crack into one of those icy
cold beers. The seasoning needs time to dissipate across the steak and
you need an exercise in patience. Problem solved.
Once you’ve tossed that first can into the recycling bin, your
coals should be ash white and ready to cook with. Disperse them evenly
across the bottom of your barbeque, place the grill on top and reward yourself
with a second can of beer. By the time you’ve finished this one,
the grill will have heated up sufficiently. Having a hot grill is of great
importance because it stops your steak from sticking and assists in the
creation of that mouthwatering crust the meat will eventually possess.
Before beginning, pay your grill some attention. A wire brush followed
by a rag lightly dampened with cooking oil will ensure that the surface
is clean and lubricated. And lastly, brush your steak with oil and season
a second time with salt and pepper.
Finally, it’s go-time! Place your steak on the grill at a 45 degree
angle. To illustrate, if the back of the grill is your hypothetical north,
aim the top end of the steak northwest. Don’t make the amateur mistake
of playing with your food once it’s sizzling. Relax. Your steak doesn’t
need flipping, poking, prodding or reassuring. It needs space and you should
respect that. This is when the sugars in the meat begin to caramelize to
produce that flavorful crust… and nothing you can do will make it
any tastier. Go tell your guests an amusing anecdote. By the time you’re
through (providing your storytelling takes approximately 3-4 minutes),
it’s time to turn the steak. Don’t confuse this with flipping.
Turning your steak is how you’re going to produce those menu photo-quality
diamond grill marks. Just take the steak and aim the top end northeast.
After another 3-4 minutes, flip and repeat from the top.
It’s important to note that while the occasional flame-up is an
impressive way of reminding your guests that you’re indeed barbequing,
it will invariably cause carbon deposits on your meat that translate to
a charred crust and bitter flavor. Barbeque modestly with a small spray
bottle of water on-hand to douse excessive flame. You’ll impress
them more once the meat hits the plate.
For the precision grill-master, the exact iGrill temperatures for each
grilling preference are listed below:
If your iGrill reads:
120ºF - 125ºF (49ºC - 52ºC)
steak is RARE
If your iGrill reads: 130ºF - 135ºF (54ºC - 57ºC) steak
is MEDIUM RARE
If your iGrill reads: 140ºF - 145ºF (60ºC - 63ºC) steak
If your iGrill reads: 150ºF - 155ºF (66ºC - 68ºC) steak
is MEDIUM WELL
If your iGrill reads: 160ºF and above (71ºC and above) steak
is WELL DONE
And as a final test of your
patience, remove the steak from the grill and let sit for five minutes.
Why is this so important? Because meat is muscle. During grilling, the
fibers tighten, pushing the juice to the center of the meat. If you dig
in too early, you’ll be left with a dry steak
swimming in a plate of juices. Take the time to let the meat relax and
you’ll be serving gorgeous, juicy cuts every time.
Have another beer.
You’ve earned it.