Last year I bought a gas barbecue and started barbecuing stakes on a regular basics. Cooking with a new bbq is a learning experience and takes some trial and error. Every bbq is different. Some get hot quicker than others, disperse heat at different rates, and each have their own “hot spots”. Once you learn the unique traits of your bbq, you can start grilling the perfect steak.
When I bought my new bbq, I had a tendency of over cooking the steaks so I started jotting down notes on the temperatures and duration I was cooking the stakes. I also noted down the final result. There are tons of articles out on the internet about grilling a good steak, but here is what worked with me:
T-bone, porterhouse, ribeye or NY Strip are my favorite choices for grilling. T-bone and porterhouse steaks can be quite large (and pricey) so if I’m just grilling for myself and I tend to get a small ribeye or NY striplion. My local grocery stores often sell sale NY strip steaks in 4 per pack sale packages which is a great buy.
Regardless of the type of steak, choose one that has as high degree of marbling. Marbling is the thin fat-lines that streak though the meat. When you cook the meat, these fat melts away infusing the meat with flavor. Try to avoid meat with a large hard clob of fat in the middle of the steak. These won’t melt away and can sometimes be very tough.
Steaks are graded based on the level of marbling within the meat. Top steaks have a grade of AAA (Prime in the United States), but only a few low percentage of steaks achieve this grade. The few AAA steaks are bought up by expensive steak houses and high-end grocery stores. Your local store probably has A and AA. My cheap “Chinatown” grocery store sells A to AA and my local Loblaws sells “AA or above”. The higher the grade, the better flavor, the higher price.
Let me meat warm up to around room temperature just before you throw it onto the grill. If your steaks are ice cold when you put it on the grill, the outside will be overcooked (perhaps even burnt) and the inside will be raw. Don’t let it warm up and put it back in the fridge.
Don’t rinse your steaks. My mom does this and I know others who do this. They believe they are “cleaning off” bacteria. By rinsing your steak, you allow bacteria sitting on the surface of your meat (which normally gets killed off during grilling) to penetrate deep inside the meat. The temperature achieved for a medium rare steak is not sufficient to kill bacteria that now resides there due to your rinsing.
Start on high heat, around 500 to 530 degrees F. This high heat will sear the outside of the meat, thus containing all the juices. A hot grill is also required to generate those perfect grill lines. If the temperature is too high however, you will char the edges of steak.
Make sure the steak is at least an inch thick. Anything between 1 to 2 inches is good. The thicker the meat, the longer you have to cook but if you cook it on high heat too long, you will burn the outside. With thinner meats, you can cook at high temp all the way because you will get a nice medium-rare inside without burning the outside. With ticker steaks, you may need to sear the outside and then move to indirect heat until you archive the desired rareness.
Don’t play with the meat too much. Let it sit and cook. Only lift to flip or reposition the steak. If you move it too much, the juices will begin to flow out of the steak and onto your grill.
There are several ways of knowing when your steak is done. I use the heel of the palm method. In this method, the resistance you feel by pushing on certain parts of your palm with the index finger of your other hand are equivalent to a particular rareness of the steak (when you push down on the steak). I don’t like poking my steak with temperature gauges because that causes the juices to flow out.
Let the meat sit for at least 5 minutes. If you cut open your steak without letting it sit, you will let all the juices run out. This is really important. Also, your steak will continue to cook for a bit after you remove it from the grill. So I take this additional “cooking time” into consideration.
After a few tries, you too will know how to grill the perfect steak.