How to grill a perfect steak … it’s an age old question, but does it exist and is it attainable?
Whether your preference is a warm, butter-soft filet steak, tasty ribeye or sirloin or cheaper cuts like flatiron or skirt, care and attention should be paid when grilling your perfect steak.
With only a few minutes between rare and well-done, timing is key. We’ve put together some tips to help you from start to finish.
Embrace the oils
Peanut oil, a favorite of fried food dishes, is also great for cooking steaks – it has a mild flavor and can withstand very high temperatures without burning.
Extra virgin olive oil is also a good choice of oil when grilling steaks. The olive oil has a mild flavor, and can help keep thin-cut steaks from sticking to hot grill grates during the sear.
No matter which oil is used, it’s important to be sure there is a total, thin covering of the meat before grilling.
One issue that can happen with oil is not allowing the seasonings to adhere to the steak. Many times, after the oil is rubbed into the steak, the seasoning is added and immediately placed on the hot grill. This can cause the seasonings to adhere to the grates, rather then the steak, leaving behind much of the seasoning on the grill.
To combat this, there are two options to follow: let the meat rest with the oil and seasonings for 30 minutes before grilling, or, add the seasonings after your perfect steak has made the first turn. The latter method will, however, leave quite a bit of seasoning behind.
Remember to add the oil first, then the seasoning. The oil will act as a barrier to help keep the salt from removing any moisture from your perfect steak. Salt added to meat before cooking will always remove moisture from your cuts of beef.
What’s your perfect steak?
Although we are firm believers in using instant-read thermometers, such as the Thermapen MK4, it’s always good to have the ‘feel’ for the doneness of beef when grilling. The Grillax Finger Method could be helpful in times when no thermometers are available.
- Blue: Should still be a dark color, almost purple, and just warm. It will feel spongy with no resistance.
- Rare: Dark red in color with some juice flowing. It will feel soft and spongy with slight resistance.
- Medium-rare: A more pink color with a little pink juice flowing. It will be a bit soft and spongy and slightly springy.
- Medium: Pale pink in the middle with hardly any juice flowing. It will feel firm and springy.
- Well-done (Why?!): Only a trace of pink color but not dry. It will feel spongy and soft and slightly springy.
How to grill a perfect steak
It’s very important to consider the size and weight of your steak before calculating the cooking time. If you’re unsure, take advantage of the expert eye of your butcher. They should be able to tell you how long you need to cook your meat to your liking.
We recommend the following cooking times (and temperatures) for a 1 1/2-inch thick filet steak:
- Blue: About 1½ minutes each side (80-100 degrees)
- Rare: About 2¼ minutes each side (120 to 125 degrees)
- Medium-rare: About 3¼ minutes each side (130 to 135 degrees)
- Medium: About 4½ minutes each side (140 to 145 degrees)
We also recommend the following for a 3/4-inch thick sirloin steak:
- Blue: About 1 minute each side (80-100 degrees)
- Rare: About 1½ minutes per side (120 to 125 degrees)
- Medium rare: About 2 minutes per side (130 to 135 degrees)
- Medium: About 2¼ minutes per side (140 to 145 degrees)
Check to make sure your perfect steak is cooked to the desired level.
Use your fingers to prod the cooked steak – when rare it will feel soft, medium-rare will be lightly bouncy, and well-done will be much firmer. Or, break out your instant-read thermometer and poke away.
Leave it to rest?
It is an ongoing debate in the grilling world that we should all let our steaks rest after removing from the grill. Here is one approach to the argument:
A grilled steak should rest at room temperature for at least five minutes – it will stay warm for anything up to 10 minutes. Here, pure science comes into play – the fibers of the meat will reabsorb the free-running juices resulting in a moist and tender finish to your steak. — rogersbutchers.co.uk
The other side, which also cites science, says there is no big difference in a steak being sliced immediately off the grill or after a 10-minute rest. This was done in a two-trial test, with measurements taken from each sample.
There you have it … the sought-after instructions on how to grill a perfect steak. Guard it wisely.