Sizzlin’ Steaks


The Meat

Pick USDA Choice or Prime beef. These top 2 grades will have enough marbling (thin streaks of fat in the muscle) to give you a tender, juicy, flavorful steak.

Know your cuts and what you like.  Filet mignon will be oh-so-tender, but not necessarily very flavorful. Rib-eyes have excellent flavor, but can be very rich.  Strip steaks have good flavor, but are tougher. Sirloin is tasty, but lean and can get dry. T-bones and porterhouses offer a compromise by combining the strip and the filet.

Once you pick a cut, get a nice one. Go to a butcher and have them cut your steaks right off the primal. Get them at least an inch and a half thick. Look them over. You want a nice, red, compact steak with a minimum of excess fat.

Even good meat can use a little enhancement. Give the steaks a light coating of olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar, and a dusting of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Stash these in the fridge for at least 3 hours, overnight is best.

The Cook

Take the steaks out at least an hour before you start grilling. The cook is going to happen very fast, and you want them very close to room temp so you’re not fighting a cold center.

Grilling is nothing but inverted broiling, so you want your grill HOT. We’re talking a minimum of 600°F, but the hotter the better. A loaded kettle grill can reach 700°.  Some of the infrared burners on the gassers go to 1200°. The Big Green Egg will hit 1500° with all the vents open. Once it’s hot, get the grate clean. You want nice sear marks, not a lot of sticking.

Do a final prep before putting the steaks on. Dust them again with a little more kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Shape them with your hand so that they are as tight, high, and compact as possible. You don’t want any loose bits to burn off.

Put the steaks on the grill using tongs or a spatula (no forks allowed). Put the steaks over the hottest part of the grill and close the lid. Give them 60 seconds of undisturbed searing. After a minute, flip them over. If they won’t come away from the grill easily. give them another 30 seconds. Once flipped, close the lid and give them another 60 seconds of undisturbed searing.

Now open the lip and leave it open for the rest of the cook.  Flip them again – yes this violates most “perfect steak” rules. But flipping the steaks often minimizes flareup and maximizes the amount of steak that’s done the way you like it. Keep flipping the steaks once a  minute until they are done.

When is it done? Press on the center of the steak or use an instant-read thermometer to determine doneness:

  • Rare is 125°F, warm bright red center, feels soft like a sponge
  • Medium-rare is 135°F, mostly pink with a hint of red center, yields easily to a little pressure
  • Medium is 145°F,  has a large pink center, yields only slightly
  • Medium-well is 155°F internal, has a hint of pink, and feels firm
  • Well is anything over 160°F, the meat is solid brown with no give

Most steaks are at their best at medium-rare, but will be tasty anywhere from rare to medium. Leaner steaks will start to suffer at medium-well. When in doubt, err on the side of under cooked. You can always put a steak back on the grill if it’s too rare but,  you can’t uncook a well-done steak.

When they are done to your liking, put the steaks on a warm plate and cover them gently with another one, and let them rest. Meat is muscle and muscles contract when cooked. If you want tender steaks you need to allow time for the muscle to relax and the juices to redistribute.  Let them sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Summertime Burgers & Corn

It’s Summertime and that means hamburgers and fresh sweet corn hot off the grill. This recipe takes preparation and a little coordination to get everything on and off the grill at the right time, but the results are well worth it.

Double Double Cheese Bacon Onion Burgers with Southwestern Sweet Corn

For the burgers:

  • 1lb ground beef (preferably chuck), divided into 4 thin patties
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 sweet onion, sliced into rings
  • 1/2 oz bleu cheese crumbles
  • 2 slices colby-jack or cheddar cheese
  • 2 buns, sliced and buttered

Continue reading “Summertime Burgers & Corn”

Surf & Turf

Surf & Turf

I’ve been in the mood for surf and turf, so when my dear wife picked up some nice beef filets and some truly exceptional sea scallops, I was more than happy to throw them on the grill. The only question was how to prepare them?

For the scallops, I decided that simple is best and just dusted them with a little Penzeys Northwoods Fire and grilled them directly on skewers at 400°F for just under 2 minutes per side. Perfect.

But for the steak, I went a little more exotic with chimichurri – the tangy, herb-based Argentinian sauce. Here it’s used as both a marinade and a sauce. Continue reading “Surf & Turf”

Chipotle Chicken

Chipotle Chicken

The heat of the grill does a lot to tone down the spiciness of the marinade.

Chipotle Marinade

Flat Iron Steaks

Flat iron steak is a relatively new cut of meat. It comes from the top shoulder of the chuck. It usually ends up as ground beef, but if the butcher fillets out the nasty strip of connective tissue, you end up with two decent hunks for beef that are as tender as tenderloin and as flavorful as a strip steak. Continue reading “Flat Iron Steaks”

Stuffed Pork Loin

I really enjoy grilled pork loin – it’s quick, cheap, tasty, and very versatile. It’s the first thing I reach for when we’ve got guests to feed on short notice. The only issue I have with it is that pigs have been bred to be so lean that this cut can dry out pretty easily.

The solution – stuff it.

Continue reading “Stuffed Pork Loin”

Tuna Steaks

Tuna loin is the section of prime meat that lies next to the fish’s lateral line and provides most of the tail’s propulsive power. Steaks cut from these loins really benefit from being treated more like beef than fish – sear them quick and hot and serve them no more done than medium rare.

Marinate the steaks for at least an hour (overnight is best) in a your favorite teriyaki sauce (I like Soy Vay’s Island Teriyaki Sauce). Remove from the marinade and dust both sides with sesame seeds. I also like to hit it with a little Dizzy Pig’s Tsunami Spin or a good 5-Spice powder.

Now get your grill HOT!!! On the Big Green Egg this is easy – just open up all the vents and let it roar. On a charcoal grill you might want to consider getting a chimney starter full of coals hot and placing the cooking grate right on top of it. On a gasser, look for the “Nuclear” setting on your burner knob. Continue reading “Tuna Steaks”

Asparagus

Grilled asparagus is the soul of simplicity:

First – Find the freshest, tenderest spears you can find and snap off the tough ends.

Second – Mix up a marinade of a 50/50 mix of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Add a dash of kosher sea salt (and a dab of Dijon mustard if you’re feeling extra fancy).

Third – Marinate the spears for about an hour. Remove the spears to the grill, reserving the marinade.

Fourth – Grill the spears hot and fast over a medium-high flame. Turn them a quarter of a turn every minute or so for a 4 to 5 minute total cook. Al dente is the name of the game – they should have grill marks that are dark brown, not black, and should still be tender-crisp.

Fifth – Dump the hot spears back in the marinade momentarily, toss and serve.

Sixth – Eat one-at-a-time with your fingers, enjoying every succulent bite.

Grill Fried Chicken

You’ve heard of chicken fried steak? Well this is grill fried chicken. The long cook over indirect heat renders the fat out the skin so you get the crispy goodness and a juicy inside of traditionally fried chicken plus all the smoke and spice of the grill.

Continue reading “Grill Fried Chicken”