Summer is synonymous with steaks, fresh and sizzling on the barbecue.
But with beef prices skyrocketing, there’s more reason than ever to ensure you’re grilling that meat right. Beef up on your steak know-how with these tips from master griller Michael Vignola, executive chef at NYC’s Strip House.
STEAK YOUR CLAIM
If you want to grill the most delicious steak, start with the best meat you can afford, says Chef Vignola. Look for bright red flesh and lots of marbling throughout — think mottled, not streaky. Rib eye and bone-in rib eye steaks are good bets. Always choose the thickest cut you can find, and try for at least one or one-and-a-half inches. Chef Vignola recommends buying large steaks, then carving them into individual portions after cooking. (Alternatively, we’ve amassed some tips and tricks to make the most out of less expensive cuts of meat.)
OIL IS THE ICING ON THE STEAK
A well-oiled steak will sear faster, ensuring a juicier interior and improving exterior charring. “Save your expensive olive oils for salads,” says Chef Vignola, and use an 80/20 or 90/10 blend of canola and olive oil.
STEAK IT EASY ON THE SEASONINGS
A well-marbled, good quality steak needs little adornment. Let the meat take centre stage by sticking to simple salt and pepper, but be sure to season your steak a little more than you would a sautéed item, reminds Chef Vignola.
ALL SIZZLE AND LOTS OF STEAK
A juicy, nicely charred steak requires heat, and lots of it. Keep your grill closed for 5 – 10 minutes, until your coals are white hot and the BBQ has reached 600-800 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll know the grill’s ready when you can’t hold your hand comfortably near it, says Vignola.
STEAK IT OR LEAVE IT
Once you lay your steak in the right spot, leave it there — don’t flip out, and don’t be a drag. For a one-and-a-half or two-inch steak at high heat, grill the first side uncovered for about six minutes or until well-charred. Then flip and grill for about two minutes, or until the other side has seared. Next, move it to an indirect heat spot, or a lower charcoal pile, cover and grill for approximately four minutes. And that, beef fans, is how you grill a perfect medium-rare steak. (Obviously, if you’re going for medium-well or a browner steak, you’ll want to leave it on the heat for a minute or two longer.)
STEAK A BREAK
“Cutting too soon will allow the juices to spill out, turning a medium-rare steak into a medium-plus steak,” says Chef Vignola. “I have done this and I was sad.” Always give your steak at least five minutes’ rest time before cutting. A grate over a pan is the best resting spot, as you want to ensure air flow all around the meat to stop the cooking process.
STEAK IT WITH A GRAIN OF SALT
After the steak has rested, return it to the grill for about 30 seconds per side, just to get a little surface sizzle going. A final sprinkle of sea salt will add depth — Chef Vignola recommends sel gris.
So there you go! We’ve raised the steaks. Now, run with it.