Grilling a Steak That's Perfect.

Grilling a Steak That's Perfect.

Posted by Pat La Jeunesse

Grilling the steaks...It's one of our passions

Grilling a steak is what we do best, (most of the time).  For us grill warriors, a juicy, tender, grilled streak is the pièce de résistance.  We take great pride in turning out the most delicious, mouth-watering steaks imaginable time after time.   Name the cut of beef, porterhouse, strip, T-bone, hanger, rib eye, filet… we’ve grilled them all and never once did we see a disappointed recipient.  Errr …well not very often anyway.  Actually, to be honest, more often than we care to recall it has been our miss fortune find that this is not the case.  We ring that dinner bell,  only to discover when slicing into that piece of what appears a great steak, that the insides were still only half-cooked.  Worse yet, occasionally its overcooked and dried out.

Yes, as much as we hate to admit it, at some point we have been known to wreck a good steak to two.  Want to avoid that problem in the future?  Who doesn’t?  Here are a few simple tips to try that will take your grilling skills over the top and make you the neighborhood expert.

Skip the thaw out - Grill that steak frozen

frozen steak
Frozen t-bone

If you tend to purchase your streaks online they usually ship frozen.  Also, if stock up big when the local butcher shop has a feature on your favorite steak, chances are good that you put them in the freezer for storage and future use.  Most common sense would tell us that the first step in cooking a frozen steak would be to take it out of the freezer a day early and place it in the refrigerator to thaw out.  Well, write this down.  NO NEED TO THAW!  Actually, you’re better off not thawing your frozen steaks before grilling them.

I realize that this goes beyond common sense and is even counter to what I’ve written in another blog on the subject.  There I suggest setting the steak out for ½ hour and getting it to room temperature so that the steak is of a uniform temperature throughout when you place it in a sizzling hot grill.   In this case, however, if your steak is already frozen there are advantages when the steak goes directly from the freezer to the grill.

Grilling a frozen steak eliminates grey banding

You can indeed grill a steak that's frozen solid and end up with a perfectly cooked steak as a result. Grilling a steak when it’s frozen helps solve a common problem.  It eliminates having the chance that the steak acquires that unsightly grey interior often known in the meat world as "banding".   When steaks were grilled frozen, they consistently finish off with a nice pink interior and little to no gray banding beneath the surface. And less gray banding means a more tender, juicier steak.

Let me explain what happens.  The fact that the steak starts on the grill in a frozen state allows its interior temperature to rise more slowly as it grills, protecting it from overcooking and creating a uniform pink interior as the exterior sizzles and chars. Here is how it’s done.

Create a 2-temperature zone when grilling a steak

This technique works best with steaks that are 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. Porterhouse, ribeye, or T-bone would be great choices. It’s not recommended for thinner steaks like skirt or flank, because their interiors can overcook before the exteriors are well-browned.

grilling steak
2-temperature zone grilling

This is important.   If you are using a gas grill, have one side be your high heat and keep the gas turned low on the opposite side.  For a charcoal briquette fire, move the bulk of the charcoal to one side of the grill.  The idea is that you sear the steak until it's nicely caramelized on the direct heat side and then, move it to the cooler side to cook through to perfection.

Sear then Flip

Begin by searing the frozen steak on the direct-heat side of the grill. You want the exterior to get a nice caramelized crust, 10–14 minutes. Now flip the steak and sear the other side.   Be sure to generously season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper. Trying to season a frozen steak simply won’t work. The spices can’t stick to the steak’s surface when frozen so at the flip it’s the ideal time to season.

 

Once the steak is seared, move it to the indirect-heat side of the grill.   There it will gently cook at a low heat slowly until the interior has reached your desired doneness. This should take another ten minutes or so but IMPORTANT, do NOT rely on time …use the meat’s internal temperature as your only reliable guide.

Use a digital thermometer

A steak’s Temperature is the ONLY safe way to cook up what you and your guests want.   You learn that with an

digital thermometer
Digital thermometer

instant-read thermometer. Don’t hesitate to check this often, it only takes a couple of seconds to pierce the center of the meat and take an accurate reading. As you see the internal temperature come to within 5 °F of the desired temperature it’s time to pull it off the grill.  As you do that set the steaks on a platter to rest five minutes for every inch of thickness.

 

Why It’s Important to Give It A Rest

Meat is a muscle and it has two main parts – protein and water.  When meat is raw, it’s about 70-75% water. If you cut a piece of raw meat you will find that you lose very little liquid.  However, when a steak is cooked, the muscle fibers contract because of the increased temperature. Then, the water is squeezed out of the fibers and the liquid moves towards the center of the steak.  Cutting your steak before it rests causes those juices to escape directly on your plate. It hasn’t had a chance to be reabsorbed by the meat yet.  As your steak rests it gets a chance for the fibers of the meat to relax and widen.  This allows the juices to once again be redistributed to the entire piece of meat.

What is the correct internal temperature?

The answer to that question, of course, depends on the taste of the person who will be eating it.  When you go to a fine steakhouse, the waitress/waiter asks, “How do you want your steak prepared?” You'll want to always ask your guests their preference.  What’s delicious to your taste buds may be barely tolerable to someone else.  Here is a temperature guide to steak doneness:

Rare 115 to 120° F
Medium - Rare 120 to 125° F
Medium 130 to 135° F
Medium - Well 140 to 145° F
Well-Done 150° F

So, there you have it, so long as your steaks are at least 1” thick and even better still if they are thicker, grilling a steak that is frozen is an excellent choice.  Just remember never rely solely on timing but make your digital thermometer your best friend.  And finally, don’t be too eager to cut into that juicy delight, give it a nice rest after coming off the fire

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