Head to the backyard and fire up the barbecue – it’s grilling season. Nothing says summertime quite like the enticing smells of a smoking grill. And nothing tastes quite as good as a perfectly grilled steak. But not all steaks are created equal; different cuts require different techniques. The right cut paired with the wrong cooking method can result in a charred piece of meat. Luckily, with just a few simple steps to follow and a little knowledge about cuts of beef, you’ll be grilling juicy, seared perfection every time.
Cuts of steak and how to prepare them:
Ribeye steaks are the most popular cut for grilling. Rich and buttery, with beautiful marbling throughout the meat, ribeye cuts are both flavorful and tender. For the best grilled ribeye, start with a medium-high heat on your grill – around 450 to 500 F. When seasoning, keep it simple. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a fresh herb like rosemary to pair with the rich flavor of the beef. Before tossing on the grill, start with a room temperature steak and coat it with a high-burning fat, like olive oil. For a medium-rare ribeye, cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Most butcher-cut ribeye steaks are anywhere from 1 to 1.5 inches in thickness, so bump up your cook time for a thick-cut or bone-in ribeye.
Skirt, flank and flat iron steaks are considered lower quality cuts of beef. Despite their tougher texture and lower-quality rank, these thin cuts can boast big flavor with a little preparation. All three cuts are ideal choices for marinating and are inexpensive, offering the best bang for your buck. These steaks are best served medium to medium-rare; cooked any longer, they will become tough and dry. Season these steaks with a heavy rub or marinate in bold flavors like olive oil, soy sauce and smoked paprika for 4 to 24 hours. Start with a very hot, 500 to 600 F grill. Place the meat on the grill and cook a mere 1 to 2 minutes per side for 1-inch steaks. Once off the grill, let them rest for 2 to 3 minutes and slice the beef against the grain.
T-bone steaks are essentially two steaks in one, the strip and the tenderloin, all connected by a t-shaped bone. T-bone steaks offer exceptional taste with the bone imparting a great deal of flavor and tenderness. Look for a T-bone around 2 inches thick. For seasoning, start with a room temperature steak and go unadulterated with a generous layer of only salt and pepper. A popular method for grilling a T-bone is the “sear and roast method.” First, start with a very hot grill – 500 to 600 F. Sear the steak for 4 minutes per side, then lower the temperature to 450 to 500 F, pop the lid on and cook covered for 6 to 7 more minutes for medium.
Filet mignon is by far the most tender cut of beef. Touted for its tender texture, subtle taste and delicate size, filet mignon is a popular choice for elegant meals. A typical filet mignon is a thick-cut steak, anywhere from 2 to 3 inches in thickness, so it’s essential to grill all four sides. For filet mignon cooked to medium, start with a 450 F grill. Coat your room-temperature filet with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and lay flat-side down on the grill. After 4 minutes on the first side, rotate your steak and grill the edge of the steak for 2 minutes, rotate again to the second flat side and grill for 4 minutes. Rotate once more and grill the final edge of the filet for 2 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature to adjust to your liking.
*The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that all steaks be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145 F, followed by a 3-minute rest period to ensure food safety. Color alone is not a foolproof indicator of doneness or temperature, so you’ll want to use a food thermometer to check. These steps are taken to prevent the spread of food borne illnesses than can cause vomiting, diarrhea or other serious conditions.