The Perfect Grilled Steak – In Detail!
It goes without saying that step one is to buy the best meat you can find. There are a number of cuts that make for great grilled steak and this is down to personal preference.
I’m cooking a couple of small 28 day dry-aged sirloins this evening. It’s a good balance of flavour and tenderness. There’s a decent amount of marbling in the meat which will melt through the cooking process and add flavour and juiciness. There’s also a good layer of fat which will do the same.
Unless you specifically request it, steaks are normally cut far too thin to grill properly. You need sufficient thickness to allow enough cooking time to develop the tasty crust on the outside whilst still being pink and tender in the centre. If your steak is too thin, then by the time the outside looks good, the middle will be well overcooked. Minimum of 1″ thick is advisable and if you can, get your butcher to cut the steaks to a 1.5″ thickness.
Next is seasoning. If you have a really great steak then you don’t want to do too much. A generous layer of sea salt flakes and ground black pepper on each side around 2 hours before you plan to cook is ample. This allows time for the salt to melt and draw out the steak juice and then get drawn back in with the salt and pepper. This seasons the meat deep inside and also starts to tenderise it.
If you don’t have 2 hours, then season the steak just before you cook it – anywhere under 2 hours does not give enough time for the juices to get drawn back in and you will end up with dry and salty meat rather than juicy, well seasoned meat.
There is a debate on whether to keep the steak in the fridge right up to the time of cooking, or allow it to come to room temp. The argument goes that if you have a thin steak then get it really cold before you cook it – this gives more time for the crust to develop whilst still having a chance at keeping the centre pink. Actually it is critical to allow the steak to come to room temperature before you cook it. Regardless of thick or thin cut – 1) you can control much easier getting to the desired done-ness and 2) a cold piece of meat will get condensation on it and prevent a proper sear – it steams instead of sears. Especially critical in pan-searing but also important on the grill.
Next step is to set your grill up so one side is as hot as you can posisbly get it, the other side medium.
Brush your grill over and then wipe it with a piece of kitchen roll dipped in sunflower oil – use tongs for this!
Once you grill is smoking hot, lay down the steaks for a 2 minute sear on each side – don’t touch apart from flipping them.
I’m using a Weber Genesis 330 tonight with a sear station especially designed for this. It’s a three burner grill with an extra burner slotted between burners 1 and 2 to create a super hot area for searing. I’ll have burners 1 & 2 on full, along with the sear station and then burner 3 on the other side set to 50%.
Then either turn down the heat or transfer to the other side of the grill for medium heat and go another minute each side depending on thickness.
Now take the steaks off, cover loosely with tin foil and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.