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What’s for dinner?: How to grill an awesome steak

Categories: Food & Cooking

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For those of us who are fans of the grill, from Memorial Day to Labor Day (and in some parts of the country, all year round), dinner = grilling.  One of the finer things to throw on the grill is a tender cut of beef, a serious steak.  You can give it some special treatment with a rub, you can make  sauce to serve over or on the side, or you can simply indulge the inner carnivore in yourself and buy yourself a first-class cut of meat rub it with a little olive oil, salt and pepper it, and cook it over high heat just until it gets those gorgeous hatch marks and it cooked exactly the way you like it.  Here is a recipe, or really, some basic guidelines, for a perfectly grilled steak.

- Get a great cut of meat.  If you have a butcher in your town, or your supermarket has a good meat section where they cut meat to order, skip the styrofoam encased packages in the refrigerated section, and go there.  Of you can buy USDA Prime Aged Beef, that’s optimal, if not go for Choice.

- Some fat is good.  Look for some marbling.  Porterhouse, T-bone, and rib steaks will have a good amount of fat, which is what makes steak juicy and flavorful.  If you want to grill up a super lean dinner, then go buy yourself a chicken breast.  Buy steaks that are at least 1 inch thick to prevent them from overcooking.

- Grill over high heat; that’s how you get those awesome grill marks, and also how the outside gets nice and seared, while the inside stays juicy.  Preheat the grill on high for at least 20 minutes before you put on the meat (if you are using briquettes, allow them to get white hot and burn at their highest temperature for that least 10 minutes, then put the steaks on).  Flip them once, or twice, if they are very thick.  Leave them alone for at least 3 or 4 minutes after each flip.  Use tongs or a spatula to flip the meat; poking them with a fork lets the juices run out, and you want all those juices in your meat, where they belong.

- Give them a nice rub with olive oil before you throw them on the grill, which prevents them from sticking, and also helps keep them from drying out.

- To test for doneness, use the hand method.  This means using the feel your hand as a guide to see how well the steaks are cooked.  Steven Raichlen, author of the bestselling Barbeque Bible series, offers these guidelines:

“Check doneness by pressing a steak in the center, then use your thumb, fingers, and the varying firmness of the base of your thumb as your guide.”  What you are going to do is press the below listed fingers against your thumb, and then while your fingers are together, poke the fleshy part as the base of your hand, just below your thumb, to see how your steak should feel.

  • Index finger: Rare.  Soft and squishy, like a sponge.  Internal temperature 125° F.
  • Middle finger: Medium Rare.  Firm but yielding, like a Nerf football.    Internal temperature 145° F.
  • Ring finger: Medium.  Barely yielding like a racquetball.   Internal temperature 160° F.
  • Pinky finger: Well done.  Hard yet springy, like a tennis ball.  Internal temperature 170° F.

- Let the meat sit for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting, to allow the juices to redistribute themselves into the meat.

A salad, some corn, and a better summer dinner would be hard to find.

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