Last year at about this time, I posted something in the comments about how great I am and that I know how to grill a steak perfectly, every time. I based this on the fact that I have ruined my share of expensive meats on the grill over the past 20+ years and eventually figured out a specific detailed way to grill a steak on my grill that comes out perfect every time.
Of course, as with about anything I say on Lazy Lighting, I got called out on my comment and I agreed to share my methodology with two other comment makers here, Chad, and Chapter&Verse. I agreed to eventually share this with anyone if both of them came back to me and proclaimed that I was right. Even though Chapter&Verse does stupid things like put bleu cheese or garlic on his steaks even though they don’t need it, he has twittered the words “steak a la lefty” more than a few times. As well, Chad has had similar success as he has told me. Since that time, I have given the instructions to some other friends and co-workers and the comments are all the same. “My steak was perfect.” or something along those lines. So yeah, I am pretty awesome.
Please note that my instructions are just a cobbling together of many different “tried and true” methods that I have read about, seen on a cooking channel and as I mentioned, my own personal experience. Nothing you see here will be anything new, but I can also say that I have never seen this specific set of instructions all on the same page other than what I wrote up last year.
Yesterday, Bill sent me a message that basically said, “Where is your article?” Since I had not written a word, I went to Whole Foods on my way home and bought a nicely marbled NY Strip steak (about 12-13 oz) for right around $15 (pictured here). You can use Filet Mignon or Rib Eye as well with the same directions, but the key is the thickness of the meat as it relates to time on the grill. As with this cut, I try to stay right around 1″ thick (this one was about 1 and 1/8 thick).
If you want to cook sirloin or round or some other cheaper cut of meat, I really don’t have any experience there, so this is really about the nicer cuts you can get from the butcher. I also don’t have a problem recommending the Prime beef you can get at Byerly’s/Lund’s or the really prime stuff at Kowalski’s that runs you 39 per pound, but that is up to you and your wallet. Also, if you are lucky enough to go to the store when they have the occasional bone in Rib Eye or Filet, then get that for sure! The flavor is just that much more spectacular.
Now that you have selected your steak, here is what I need you to do:
1. Gather these items.
-Steak or steaks
-Fresh ground black pepper (from a mill if you have one)
-Tongs (never “spear” the steak)
-A stopwatch (it’s on your iPhone if you haven’t noticed)
2. Take your steak or steaks out of the refrigerator. Let it set on your counter for at least 30 minutes to bring it to room temperature. I usually let it set for about 40 because that is how long it takes me to drink one can of Furious on my deck before I get to work on dinner. By allowing it to come to room temp, you are ensuring the steak cooks evenly on your grill. Putting a cold steak on the grill will make the middle of the steak need to cook longer and it ends up losing some of the juiciness you are hoping to get out of that expensive piece of meat.
3. About 10-12 minutes before your steaks are to room temp, ignite your grill (for gas, obviously much earlier for charcoal). I have an internal thermometer on my grill, and I usually wait until it gets up to about 400 degrees and I know the grill is ready. Make sure your grates are good and clean.
4. Right before you put the steak on the grill, coat liberally with Kosher Salt and black pepper. Don’t do in advance or the salt will pull moisture out of the meat (not good). You do not need any other spices or seasonings that Chapter&Verse is compelled to waste on his food unless you don’t really like steak in the first place and then I am wondering why you are even reading this.
5. This part is fun: Place steak at a 45 degree angle to the grates on the grill. Let cook for 3 minutes. Open grill and rotate meat (using tongs, do not spear) 90 degrees pressing down lightly on the meat (don’t push out juices) to create sear marks on the steak (that now will be squares because you seared twice). This step is optional, but if you are cooking for others, it makes the steak look great and so easy to do. Close lid and let cook until it is time to flip (cooking times below).
6. Close grill and cook for remaining time regarding your preference, open up and turn steak over. Cook for equal amount per side, skipping the double sear since nobody sees the other side and keep the grill shut the whole time and remove from heat, placing the double sear marked side on top. Put steak in your unheated oven for 10 minutes to rest (or on your counter, but it stays a bit warmer in the oven). Do not pierce steak in any way during the whole process. Resting the steak allows the juices to return from the outside edges of the steak (the heat brings them to the surface) and return back to the bulk of the meat. If you were to attempt to eat immediately, you would have a plate full of juices that used to be called “flavor”, and a dry steak. If you did everything right, it should look something like this:
If you have the need to use steak sauce, buy cheaper steak and cook much longer. My general rule is, the better the quality, the less time you should cook it. Regarding timing. Do not ballpark it. Use a stopwatch for every step (including the rest time that seems like 3 hours if you are hungry). Your only variance should be the amount of time per side based on your desired amount of red or pink in the middle, and that is sort of what you learn by experience based on how you think the steak is cooking as grills don’t always act the same every day. I would recommend going shorter as you can’t “uncook” an over cooked steak, but you can put it back on if it is too rare for you on the first run. It won’t be as good if you need to resort to that, but still pretty good.
Blue: 2 minutes per side (sear once)
Med. Rare 6:00
Medium 7 to 7:30
Medium Well or higher-Get a hamburger at McDonald’s and save yourself the time and money. I was reluctant to even type medium.
Now get yourself a nice bottle of Cabernet or a hearty Pinot Noir and enjoy with some fresh sliced beefsteak tomatoes and maybe some yummy grilled veggies you cooked up while resting the completed steaks.
I hope it works as well for you as it does for me. There is not a restaurant in town that serves a better steak than I can make for myself using this method..and for a third of the price (or more if you happen to like that place called Manny’s, which is probably going to charge you 65 bucks for their crappy steak).
Have you perfected a tried and true method for cooking steaks that is even better than mine? What kind of steaks do you usually buy when you are going to grill steaks? Do you prefer charcoal or gas? Do you think Chapter&Verse is crazy to put flavors on a steak that do nothing but hide the wonderful beef flavor that you are supposed to taste when eating a steak? Whatever you would like to say about grilling and preparing steak, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks to Bill for letting me write this and congrats on the new baby!