6 STEPS TO GRILL THE PERFECT STEAK
What are the secrets to cooking the perfect Steak? Whilst everyone has an opinion, and many restaurants claim only they can do it, Grilling steak is easy as long as you follow a few simple steps:
Buy Good Steak
Buy the best you can afford, and know the different cuts. Many will claim Fillet is the king of steaks, but on a grill the lack of fat can often result in a dry steak. Choose a good Ribeye or Sirloin, and look for good marbling of fat through the steak - this will melt as it cooks giving you a delicious, juicy steak.
Seek out some of the more unusual cuts as well - our favourite is Bavette, a loose textured and highly flavoured cut from the flank. Half the price of the more famous cuts, Bavette is often called the Butcher's cut, as they often reserved it for their own pleasure.
Finally know where your meat comes from - we only source from Forty Hall - an organic farm, and Turner and George, who specialise in specialise in ethically and naturally reared meat.
Warm up the Steak
Throwing a fridge cold steak onto a hot grill is only going to work for the very thinnest steaks – otherwise the outside will burn before the middle even begins to heat up. Cooking a great steak starts with bringing it up to room temperature, before you cook, so take your steaks out of the fridge an hour before you plan to cook.
Season the Steak
A few drops of oil will help to prevent your steak from sticking. Use a flavourless oil with a high smoking point like vegetable or groundnut oil, but only a few drops - any more and you risk a flare up on the grill.
When it comes to seasoning, use a liberal sprinkle of sea salt to season your steak directly before you place it on the grill. Don’t add pepper until after you cook as it could burn in the heat and taste bitter.
Cook the Steak
A nice thick steak is delicious, but cooking thick steak presents a problem, as it can be very difficult to cook the inside to the level you want without burning the outside - the way to solve this is to use an Indirect Grill, which means you do not cook the steak directly over the coals for the whole cook.
To cook using this method, make 2 zones on your barbecue, with all the coals burning on 1 side to provide the heat, whilst the other side is cooler and enables you to roast slowly without burning - just like your oven, except with lots more flavour! You will need a covered BBQ to do this, with a vent to help both control and keep in the heat - a Kettle or Weber BBQ would be perfect, as would any good covered drum style barbecue.
Next, your grill needs to be hot, really hot. A simple hand test will tell you when its ready – hold your hand 20cm above the grill – you should not be able to leave it there for more than 2 seconds. A really hot grill will give your steak the perfect crust.
Start by searing your steak on the grill as normal, but once this is done on both sides, slide it over to the cooler side of the grill, pull down the cover and continue to barbecue your steak in a more controlled way.
Feel the Steak
Whilst steak cooking times can act as a guide, ultimately that is all it is. In outdoor cooking there are more variables that the cookbook does not know - how hot your grill is, how thick your steak is, and how warm it is when you put on the grill. Each one of these will impact the cooking time for your steak, so you need to learn to know exactly when it is done yourself, rather than blindly following a time.
Learning to tell if a steak is cooked is done by feel by most chefs – a soft steak will be rare and a firm one will be well done. More precisely, compare the feel of the steak to the feel of your hand:
Rare – open your palm and press the pad underneath your thumb. When your palm is open this will be soft and squishy like a rare (or blue) steak.
Well Done – bring your thumb over to touch the tip of your little finger – you’ll notice the same pad will now be much, much firmer – like a well done steak. Medium is in between and so on.
This takes a bit of time to learn, but is ultimately the best test, used by the best chefs around the world and is one of the things we teach on our BBQ Courses. While you learn, you can also use a digital meat thermometer if you have one. Once you think your steak is almost cooked insert your probe into the side of the steak (not through the top, or you will break the crust). Be careful though – every hole you make will help you test temperature, but will also be a hole for those lovely juices to escape from. Too many holes and you will have a dry steak!
Steak Temperature guide (Celsius)
Raw Steak : below 50
Rare Steak : 51-55
Medium Rare Steak : 55-60
Medium Steak : 60-65
Medium Well Steak : 65-69
Well Done Steak : 70 +
REST the Steak
Resting your steak is a crucial part of the cook - allowing the juices to redistribute through the meat, which both helps it finish cooking, and leaves it moister and more flavourful. So pre-warm your plates, and let the steaks sit for 5-10 minutes before serving or cutting them, and your will have a much tastier steak.