Grilling the Perfect Steak

by Brett & Kate McKay on March 12, 2008 · 81 comments

in Manly Skills

steak.jpg

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from AoM reader and friend Cameron Ming. Cameron is an award-winning barbequer and griller here in Oklahoma.

One of the closest links between man and beast is our love for meat. But what should separate us from mere animals is the manner in which that meat is cooked. Sadly, just because you’re human doesn’t mean you’re eating your meat any better than a beast.
Grilling a steak truly is like art: lots of people can draw, but not everyone is Michelangelo. Most of us will never make masterpieces at home, but getting close is much more simple than you think. Properly grilling a steak will separate you from the majority of the guys on the block and might even impress the ladies. But more important than showing up the fellas, you owe it to yourself to prepare the meat in the best way possible. It’s a matter of respect, I’d say.

Here are 5 simple tips to get you on track to painting your Meaty Sistine Chapel.

1. Choose your meat wisely. The meat is absolutely the most important part of the process. And knowing what cut you like will open your eyes to endless possibilities. Most people think the filet or tenderloin is the best cut. It is probably the most tender, but “best” is up for debate. Filets sacrifice flavor for tenderness and usually rely on some outside agent to give them a stronger flavor. Ribeyes have killer flavor but tend to be on the fatty side. The New York Strip falls somewhere in between.

So try different cuts to see what works for your taste. I love Ribeyes, but when I can’t shell out the cash, I’ll get a good chuck steak. It has good marbling (fat content), but has enough meat that I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time.

No matter which cut you favor, freshness is the key. If you have a little extra money, buy your meat at a true butcher’s shop. Chain stores like Walmart only carry “case-ready, pre-packaged” meat. This meat, sitting in styrofoam and covered in cellophane, is far less fresh than meat bought at a shop that actually cuts it themselves.

2. Let the flavor of the beef come through. Now matter how much make-up you put on an ugly woman, at the end of the day, she’s still ugly. By this I mean use only salt and peppe0r for seasoning. If you are using quality meat then you shouldn’t need anything else as a marinade. Minimalism is the key. Too many flavors and you mask the true beef flavor. This concept applies to BBQ and sauce as well.

Depending on the cut, I use a little olive oil, Kosher Salt, and fresh, coarse ground pepper. That’s really all you need.

3. Get the fire hot. Most prime steak restaurants have their grills going ridiculously hot — close to 1000°. Now, you probably won’t be able to get your home grill that hot, but you need to get it as hot as you possibly can. The more sear you can get on the meat, the more flavor you will lock in. The higher quality the meat, the more time you have before the meat really burns. It should just sizzle and sear, but keep an eye on it so you don’t lose your $30 steak to the flames.

4. Check the temp. There is nothing more destructive to a steak than overcooking it. A good steak should be cooked to medium rare (130° – 135° Fahrenheit, 55° – 60° Celsius). Anything over medium is pushing it. Cooking it to “well done” is a punishable crime in 39 states and basically ruins the steak.

With practice you can tell the “done-ness” of your steak by touch. But most of us aren’t that skilled. Get yourself a good meat thermometer. You can get a hardcore digital instant read thermometers that will run you $95. They are definitely worth the investment if you are doing a lot of cooking. For the regular guy, you can get a good thermometer for $6-$20 that will do just fine at keeping your meat “in the red.”

5. Let the meat rest. During the cooking process, the meat proteins constrict and essentially squeeze out their juices. Letting meat sit and rest after cooking partially reverses this process. If you let your steak rest for 5 minutes on a separate plate, the liquid should redistribute throughout the meat. It ends up retaining more flavor and will be juicier. Cover it with some tin foil to keep it warm.

6. Dig in. And pity your poor vegetarian friends.

 

{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

1 grapfx March 12, 2008 at 6:18 am

My secret is to getting a great steak is to lay the steaks out on some saran wrap or something similar that is long enough to cover the steaks, apply a bit of A1, salt pepper and Ol’Bay, cover the meat with the saran wrap and and pound the steaks a bit. I do this for both sides. I heat the grill up real hot. I actually do this in the house with a cast iron grill on top of my stove, and sear the meat for 2 minutes on both sides. They I reduce the heat and cook the meat evenly to whatever I feel like. I never get to go out to a steak restaurant anymore because my family likes my steaks better.

2 researcher March 12, 2008 at 6:41 am

“The more recently your meat mooed, the better.”

That is just crap. Beef gets better over time. If you think it smells funny, but your dog still wants to eat it, THEN and ONLY THEN it is ready to be cooked. If even your dog doesn’t want to take a bite – it is too late. There are some microbiological processes going on during the time it “matures”, that make its flavor more intense and the structure soft.

3 teplex March 12, 2008 at 6:51 am

Good post mate. Its also wise to pat the salt and pepper into the meat on both sides. This will ensure that the flavor stays in the meat and that the fire doesn’t lick it off. Searing it and then dropping the temp to someting around 140 is also crucial to a juicy steak.

4 Jack March 12, 2008 at 7:01 am

I have to agree with Researcher. My old boss showed me the light on that; steaks are best when they’re a little bit brown with age, as opposed to the bright red. Red meat is basically in the final stages of rigor mortis, so it’s going to be tougher. Let it age a bit, and the proteins will start to break down and soften up.

The rest is good advice. I like to add a little bit of garlic powder and cayenne pepper for a bit of zing, but otherwise I stick to the basics.

5 iamsofaking March 12, 2008 at 7:21 am

Aging meat is a trick to soften tough meat. Get a good piece of grass-fed beef and you will have no need of it. See tip #1 above.

6 Dan March 12, 2008 at 7:31 am

If you don’t have a grill, try this:

(optional steps to make meat more tender)
Put a lot of kosher salt on one side of the steak. let it sit for 15min.
Flip over, repeat.
Rinse of remaining salt.
(mandatory steps)
Preheat oven to 350.
Get your cast iron skillet hot enough that it starts to smoke.
Add some oil, toss in your steak. count to 30.
Turn it over. count to 30 again.
Take the whole pan and put it in the oven. Egg time 2 min.
Open the door, turn over the steak, shut the door. Another 2 min.
Meat will be golden seared outside, pink and juicy inside.
Best pan fried steak I’ve ever eaten.
Enjoy!

7 Brett McKay March 12, 2008 at 9:00 am

@Researcher and Jack-You are quite right. By “fresh” Cameron meant that you should buy meat that has never be frozen and is not stinky and spoiled. Wal-Mart sometimes freezes its meat and defrosts it.

Admittedly I actually threw in the mooing line because we thought it was funny. But you’re right, it’s not very accurate. We’ll take it out.

8 Seth March 12, 2008 at 9:33 am

If you have a really good piece of beef you shouldn’t salt it before cooking. Salt tends to draw the moisture out during the cooking process. Also, let it come to room temperature before cooking it if it’s been in the fridge. I like to eat mine with just salt which I apply to each bite. But then I get mine from my parents who own a ranch and feed about a dozen each year.

9 Adam Herbst March 12, 2008 at 9:50 am

If you want to blacken your steak in a pan, it is good to heat up an iron skillet very, very, hot. (You can purchase a thermometer to actually put on the skillet – I don’t know the temperature, though – but the item will cost $20).

10 Kevin March 12, 2008 at 10:31 am

I use a no-name $79.99 charcoal grill and natural charcoal which gets ridiculously hot as noted in the post – I’ve had it over 1100 F a couple of times, which burns knuckles and incinerated little finger hairs.

The key with prime and select cuts is to first roast them on a side of the grill – not over direct heat – for 5-7 minutes per side FIRST, then at the rare or sub rare stage pop those bad boys over direct heat for a good mallard reaction. The mallard reaction brings out the beefiness in good beef and helps to mask gaminess in poor cuts.

11 Researcher March 12, 2008 at 11:17 am

Okay,

without the “mooing” line, I have to agree. I’m sorry if I sounded a little harsh, but the meat is the first and most important step in preparing a good steak, and I love steaks :-) I have the luck to live in a region, where I can meet my steaks while they have four legs and tell them they will land on my plate in some weeks, while they chew their grass ;-)

Salt: if you cook the meat right after you salted it, osmosis doesn’t matter. This is a process that needs time. And during the cooking, the meat naturally looses some water. The little bit more caused by osmosis doesn’t really count. But Seth is right, if you doesn’t cook your steaks right after salting it – the outer regions of your steak will suffer. But you should be very careful with all “powdery” spices like chili, paprika, curry etc. – they tend to burn while the minutes your steak needs to get medium rare.

My only problem preparing steaks: while my steak gets perfect, the fat in the pan burns, causing a lot of smoke, and I don’t know what to do.

12 amy March 12, 2008 at 11:22 am

“No matter how much makeup you put on an ugly woman, at the end of the day, she’s still ugly”?

Sorry, gents, but I think this sort of sentiment is beneath you. I have come to expect more than misogyny from AoM. This comment would fit in better on The Man Show (which, I believe, is a misnomer anyway).

One other thought…male=carnivore is a paradigm that needs shifting. This site does such a fabulous job of encouraging men to be their wise, responsible best but I think lauding meat consumption falls short. Eating meat is an indulgence that is seldom, if ever, wise or responsible. It has been adequately confirmed that eating meat is neither wise nor responsible for one’s health, being strongly implicated in increased risk of heart disease and cancer, the number one and two killers of Americans, often tragically early. It also demonstrates lack of responsibility for care of the environment, resulting in deforestation, mass water overuse and heavy, heavy use of petroleum based pesticides contributing to problems of pollution etc. Furthermore, I am certain that any person of gentle soul would look upon the suffering of creatures in horrific feedlots, followed by (often) inhumane slaughter is nothing to be heralded. Iti is truly a sad shame and one need not be extreme to perceive it. The reasons to avoid meat go on, but I have hopefully made my point.

I understand that, for many, meat is the tastiest thing around. I hope it is clear that I do not condemn those who eat meat- perhaps they lack information or willpower; don’t we all! But to equate such behavior with masculinity is, I believe, erroneous.

Let’s all do whatever we can to learn how to be powerful people, male or female, and to make choices based on the integrity of our conscience rather than the cravings of our palate. Self-restraint might better be the marker of a True Man than the ability to thoughtlessly consume what is most gratifying (look at Spitzer, for example). Thanks for all who read this with an open mind- I don’t want to be the bane of AoM. I only comment because I think so highly of the site!

13 amy March 12, 2008 at 11:23 am

Why is there a link to “The International Babe Edition” from Just a Guy Thing above the comments section? I am horrified.

14 Dezmovous March 12, 2008 at 11:36 am

I pity your colon as much as you pity your “vegetarian friends”. Why is it that you feel entitled to eating steak even when you can’t afford what you want? Our “closest link” to animals is eating them?!? What about befriending them and providing for them? Anyway, you must be Christian because you think people are not animals.

As well, I suggest you revisit your gender ethics. You might as well buy a prosthetic female organ if all you want in a mate is someone who is good looking and impressed that you know how to waste a lot of resources in order to degrade yours or others’ health.

Alas, because this post is mainly geared toward selling those thermometers you linked to, I am sure you won’t read this comment.

15 Kate McKay March 12, 2008 at 11:53 am

Amy-

We don’t control the links that come in. If someone links to us, it automatically shows up under the “Trackbacks.”

On the ugly women and make-up thing. Well, Brett said we should take it out, and I actually said, nah, leave it in. I’m no slouch in the feminist department, but I still thought Cameron was doing it in good fun and I didn’t think it was too offensive. Part of the blog will be about moving away from overly-sensitive PC stuff. Ugly women in make-up are still ugly. This is a true statement. Ugly men in snappy clothes are still ugly. I don’t think it is a big deal.

16 MIKE T March 12, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Nice article.
Cooking the perfect steak is definitely a talent worth refining. Since I eat a variation of the Paleo-diet, (www.goals-to-gold.com/paleo-diet.html) ,I do eat lots of red meat and strip sirloin and rib eyes are high on my list of favorites. Nothing satisfies a man sized appetite like a perfectly cooked hunk ‘a meat.

making me hungry just thinking about it,

17 Matt March 12, 2008 at 12:09 pm

If God didn’t want me to eat cows, he wouldn’t have made them so tasty! Great article and comments.

18 Cameron March 12, 2008 at 12:24 pm

i am the author of the post and just wanted to address some of the comments.

@amy

I’m sorry about the “ugly woman” comment. it is a variation on a colloquialism that floats around bbq competitions and i’ve sort of just picked it up. I will be more aware in the future.

As far as the health concerns, beef is not that bad. Beef is one of, if not the best sources of protein, vitamin B12, and zinc and is a great source for iron. Beef is also a good source of riboflavin, thiamin, selenium, and B6.

The key is to eat the beef in moderation. A correct portion size is about the size of a fist or some say a deck of cards. Anything more than that is overboard. The problem is most people indulge in almost every aspect of eating – very little understanding of portions and less self control.

For athletes, eating red meat is an important part of a healthy diet. It is a great source of natural protein that helps in muscle recovery and growth.

I think you make some jumps by claiming that I might not be a gentle soul because I eat meat. The simple fact that I eat steak doesn’t mean that I am heartless and disregard the rights of animals. I think people can eat meat while still being respectful of the live given. But I do appreciate your thoughts.

@ dezmovous – other than the paragraph that talks about the importance of knowing the temperature of your steak, what part of the post did you perceive as being geared toward selling thermometers?

19 Jaime March 12, 2008 at 7:05 pm

Dezmovous: Oh, quit whining. Cows exist to be eaten by people, they are domesticated creatures that have been shaped into a food source over much time. Frankly, barring horrendous factory farm methods (which don’t constitute great steaks, and where I come from we simply order a half beef at a time from a reputable, local farmer), a farm raised cow lives a pretty good life as far as a cow’s life goes: they eat, perhaps breed, get shelter from the elements, are kept more or less free of disease, and then die quickly and rather painlessly (stunned then killed). Better that situation than having some predator chomp onto its throat until it asphyxiates, or succumb to various lethal and wasting diseases and parasites. Also, if you’re so worried about some “wasted” resources, why don’t you recycle that computer of your and stop using electricity in your selfish pursuit of online entertainment? Save the whales, man, save the whales.

Oh, by the by, “gender ethics”? I’m glad to see your parents money got their value with that women’s study minor of yours–learning new words and all. How’s that working out for you?

20 amy March 12, 2008 at 7:37 pm

oh dear, i was afraid i would offend. cameron, i do not protest that you are a gentle soul because you eat meat, i just meant that any gentle soul would be offended to see the way the vast majority (though not all, and it sounds like some of your readers may be eating meat raised in finer conditions than most which is great!) of animals on their way to becoming meat are treated. i have eaten enough meat in my life that i am in NO position to pass judgment on those who indulge. really my concern was the fact that, although a well-prepared steak is an icon of masculinity, perhaps it should not be. what if the baddest dudes ate salad instead? the world would probably benefit by departing from what i think you correctly identified as an excessive approach to meat consumption (and most everything else).

in other response, i have done hours and hours and hours of research on nutrition, and i see no end in sight. the way food is marketed makes it necessary to practically have a phd in nutrition before feeling comfortable going to the grocery store and getting something to feed kids without landing them with cancer or heart disease. i know that meat is not supremely poisonous and does contain the nutrients you referenced, and i agree that it is unlikely very small portions will land you in the ER anytime soon. you might want to read The China Study; i think it is the best and most academic resource i have seen so far that explains why i think eating meat is deleterious to health while plant foods are actually protective. also some of what you said made me think you would enjoy reading Michael Pollan’s new book, In Defense of Food.

and, as an aside, it seems like you really know your stuff. if i decide it’s time for a steak anytime soon, i may have to come to oklahoma and ask you to grill one up for me.

kate, i wondered what you would think of my little (over)reaction :). i certainly agree that to have a website that is accessible and appealing it is impossible to remove any and all potential offense. i mentioned the bit about the ugly woman simply because i thought, although it was in good fun, it was also in somewhat poor taste. i wanted to make present another voice for those who choose to read the comments. while a person can be maniacally pc, i do think that it is important, especially on a site where the topic lends itself to being perceived as chauvanistic, to be sensitive. but i don’t think the world’s gonna end over it.

too bad about that link, boy oh boy, did i get an eyeful! but, hey, that’s life in the fast lane when you’re blogging. i should have known better than to click on it, but i thought it might just be a pun. it was not.

thanks for the responses, kate and cameron. i appreciate how thoughtfully and deftly you all approach blogging. it is refreshing!

21 Jon March 13, 2008 at 2:37 am

For many years, I was employed at a steak house in my hometown. One can learn many an interesting thing when constantly around meat. For a Marinade, salt, pepper, and olive oil (extra virgin) is the best combination to get a real taste of the meat. Don’t buy poor quality meat. You can also add a dash of Worcester sauce for flavor. If you have time, I also recommend seasoning with salt, lemon peppeer, oil, and allowing the steak to sit for the day. Prepare the steaks in the morning to be eaten that night.

As far as cooking a steak goes, different levels are acceptable for different steaks.

Filet: Rare-MedRare
New York: Rare-MedRare
Ribeye: MedRare-MedWell (if eaten once in a long while)

Ok, I know that last one is considered treason in most places of the world, but here me out. ribeye’s have the heaviest marbling (fat through the steak). The longer the steak is allowed to cook, the more that fat will cook into the steak. This is what gives a ribeye it’s robust beefy flavor.

On the health side. I agree that people who eat steak frequently and in large portions are at a higher risk of cholesterol related diseases. Many steak induced illnesses come from how the meat is cooked. If a steak is cooked to well done, the actual chemical structure of the steak has changed. The cooking alters the proteins in the steak. This protein is not readily usable by people. Another problem arising from over-cooked steak is carbon content. Carbon doesn’t do anything for the human body. It’s charcoal, the residue from energy release. Avoid it if possible.

Now that that is all out of the way, let’s get back to the cooking! If you have the option, heat your grill to two separate temperature zones. One being of a medium heat, the other being as hot as possible. I personally like to align the steaks at an angle of 30-45 degrees. It is important to use tongs when cooking your steak. This allows for better control of the steak and doesn’t create any holes for tasty juices to fall through. Allow the steak to cook for about 2-3 minutes on one side. Using your lovely tongs, flip the steak and cook another 2-3 minutes. Now for the hardest part (which really isn’t difficult) that will mark you as king of the grill. Move the steaks over to the searing hot part of the grill. There should be lines on the steak from the first round of cooking. Align the grill marks with the grill lay it down. This step made easier by your tongs. let that sit for around a minute (Until there are blackened lines) Shift the steak a few degrees and repeat. Flip steak and repeat. Nothing looks better than that diamond grill pattern on a steak.

Oh and as a side note on not putting any holes in your steak. Put your thumb and forefinger together and feel the fleshy part of your hand below the thumb. If the steak feels like this, then it is Rare. Middle finger= MedRare-Med, Ring finger=MedWell, Pinky=Well.

Happy Grills!

22 Cameron March 13, 2008 at 8:52 am

@ Jon

thanks for the comment. i agree with doing two sections on the grill. i usually throw some vegetables and fruit on the medium heat side while i’m working with the meat. this is a no-brainer, but i have found that grill marks are more prominent the cleaner your grill is. a grill should be cleaned before and after use, but i have a tendency to let it slip sometimes. when its clean the grill marks come through easier.

i’ve noticed that with ribeyes, the longer you cook them the more the marbling renders. i’ve always debated on whether to keep the meat rare or to let the fat melt. now i know.

@amy

i am a seriously “bad dude” and i eat salad for almost two meals a day. sadly, it’s just not catching on.

i’ll have to check out the study and the book you suggested. thanks.

23 Rupert March 13, 2008 at 9:05 am

Here’s a quick tip for you (or y’all if you’re American).

There’s no need to buy a thermometer to see how well a steak is done. All you need is a finger and a face!

Press your index finger against the tip of your nose.. This is how a rare steak should feel to the touch. Press your finger against your chin for medium and forehead for well done.

Pressing the steak and comparing it to the different parts of your face will tell you if it’s done to your liking.

You’ll be amazed how well this works, and it won’t cost you a penny.

24 Jon March 13, 2008 at 4:02 pm

Sorry Rupert,
My nose and chin honestly feel about the same. The forhead thing works well enough, I suppose. However, I would personally find it distasteful to be touching my face (given the touch the steak, touch face, double check steak for accuracy nature of the methon) in comparison to discreetly(if you feel like it) touching your hand. In any case, you’re absolutely right in got purchasing a thermometer. Unless you’re into some hard-core cooking, probably won’t need it. Moreover, use the method that is personally most comfortable.

25 Santa March 15, 2008 at 3:10 pm

For years I’ve used the same salt, pepper, and olive oil ingredients mentioned in the article. I do sometimes add A1, and steaks have always tasted great. I usually go with ribeye, porterhouse, or NY strips. I should also mention that if you don’t have access to a grill you should get a good George Foreman grill. I’ve done steaks on that when the weather outside is too severe and they come out just as nice and usually grilled faster too.

26 Mike March 17, 2008 at 2:19 pm

I don’t think the mooing line is inaccurate or should be removed but I also disagree with the comment that aging meat is of no use with quality beef. It’s just two different types of steak and both are good. In general the more recently it mooed the better- a steak that was cut ages ago and has been either frozen or sitting in saran wrap in walmart’s meat section isn’t aged- it’s just old.

I like the bottom sirloin as a cheap steak option better than the chuck steak- chuck cooked medium-rare seems to still have too much connective tissue that hasn’t really dissolved. I do, however, really like chuck roast. The bottom sirloin is obviously much less tender than top sirloin and tenderloin- but I think it’s much more flavorful as well.

I agree about cooking the Ribeye to medium- with a quality steak it’s still tender and the flavor is great. Of course- a prime rib can give you the best of both worlds. The amazing flavor that comes from the fat breaking down and the tenderness you get from more tender cuts of steak.

(oh, and there’s a typo in there with a “now matter” where it should be “no matter”

27 Evan Leon April 8, 2008 at 8:22 am

The best steaks (and the most costly) are aged beef. When we buy a half a steer, it takes 30 days for the butcher to cut it up. A little over half that time is spent aging the beef. It is an important process to get the best tasting meat.

Nothing is bad for you in moderation. Don’t over do it with the steak and forget about the potatoes, carrots and onions! Gotta have the vegies to balance out the meal, properly. Washing it down with a good cold one isn’t all bad (once again — all things in moderation) either.

We have nothing against vegetarians (or vegans), but this is about the preparation and consumation of the bovine. We don’t want to hear about living in harmony with the animal. We do, in fact, live in harmony with the animals. We breed them and feed them the best grain to get the most meat out of them!

28 Logick Bomb April 18, 2008 at 11:31 pm

Oversimplification.

Know your herbs, and use them in moderation, and you can make a good steak.

High heat?

Has the author ever heard of braising? Stewing? How about slow roasting? All are possible on a bbq. Grilling a perfect steak is just as much of an art as painting a portrait. Personally, I find a very quick high-heat flash, then a low roast to bring out the juices to be the best way to go. Once you get a bit of blackening going on the outside, you drop the temp to give an even cook to the internal fibers of the meat. High heat can quickly turn a steak into rubber if you’re not skilled. Salt, also, makes the outside of the steak hard and flavorless. Some of us prefer even texture.

How to cook a perfect steak? Simple. Experiment and don’t listen to anyone else except those you are serving. Fine tune your recipe. Take nothing as gospel.

29 ChrisJ April 25, 2008 at 11:23 am

Getting the right steak is half the battle; sure, you could probably find some cheap steak buried in the back of the freezer at your local supermarket, but nothing beats a really fresh steak. In all honesty, I was a bit skeptical the first time I ordered prime steak online, but I was really pleasantly surprised with the excellent quality. It’s also packaged really well to retain freshness.

30 Seth May 21, 2008 at 8:34 am

Great article and great site. Thanks for your emphasis on manliness. Maybe for the sake of health and all that (eyes roll) we should eat less meat. However, I have never met a man that I respected that is a vegetarian.

One of the very thoughtful comments on this post suggested that red meat’s association with masculinity was simply cultural and could be altered without any real loss to masculinity. I cringe to think of the alternate universe where the toughest men are vegans. Maybe I don’t have a good reason but that doesn’t resonate as respectable.

However, history’s more masculine heroes ate red meat by the bucket load and there is evidence to suggest that they needed to consume as much as they did.

For example, in Undaunted Courage Lewis and Clark’s party of men were eating several pounds of meat per person per day. Even though they had little choice in supplementing their diet with other food options, meat served as probably their best option if others were available. The high amount of protein the strenuous adventure demanded could have only been adequately met by their dependence on meat.

I suppose this example only reinforces the previous comment of our cultural respect for meat consumption as a masculine characteristic. I just don’t think it started that way. The fact that real men were eating meat in order to do the tough stuff that guys today respect is reason enough to find meat appetizing.

31 Marcus May 21, 2008 at 9:20 am

@seth – case in point – Hitler. Vegetarian. Not respectable as a real man.

On the other hand you’ve got Emerson… is he just the exception to the rule? :)

32 Seth May 21, 2008 at 9:25 am

Poets don’t count. Plus Emerson wasn’t that manly…He didn’t have the guts to kick that freeloading Thoreau off his land!

33 Hugh June 10, 2008 at 9:46 am

I’m late to the party, but let me add that there is compelling evidence that heart disease is not caused by a diet high in meat. The more likely source of heart disease is refined carbohydrates and unhealthy vegetable oils, although it probably doesn’t help that most beef these days is raised on unnatural diets of grain which disrupts the otherwise incredibly nutritious properties of beef.

34 bill August 9, 2008 at 1:59 pm

Thank you amy for your nauseating ultra-liberal I-am-woman-hear-me-bore silliness. Shall we all go kiss a hippie and watch Steel Magnolias now?

Spare us the whine about the terrible un-PC-ness on a site about griling steaks, of all things. It was just a joke (and a true one at that). You don’t see us going to Lifetime-channel.com and crying about the white male bashing. sniffle

Anyway –

A truly good steak should have nothing added either for grilling or afterwards. If it’s only a “pretty good” steak, then yeah a little salt/pepper (I have found “Montreal steak seasoning” to reliable) can be a nice complement.

(PS re the first comment: Old Bay on a steak?? what the – ??)

35 Mark August 20, 2008 at 6:38 am

Geeez! See what happens when certain women start posting their comments on an obviously male-geared website?…They immediately want to change us! And, of course, change the content of the articles to be more sensitive to their opinions about what constitutes proper content. When will they learn? I understand that it’s in a woman’s nature to always be trying to “improve” things. But “improve” is a relative term. Ladies, this article was about grilling steaks! Nothing more, nothing less. I’d like to suggest that you read this website and comments section and try to learn about men, rather than always attempting to change the very fundamental things about us that make us men. Stop wishing we would think, act,and behave more like you. You would find that your relationships with men would be a lot more successful and fun!

36 deecee August 20, 2008 at 9:03 am

AMY get lost!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

37 rarfuls October 7, 2008 at 4:39 pm

Just 2 things I would like to add to this article….

1st – take the steak out of the fridge before grilling and SALT IT. The let it sit for 1 hr. This way the salt doesn’t just sit on the top of the steak but gives it real flavor. Season with black pepper and a few drops of olive oil before grilling, not too much oil or it will burn and the steak will taste smokey.

2nd – about half way through I use a little Black Truffle Oil and a little sprinkle of Herbs de Provance. This will give your steak that little something something. Again, not too much since you don’t want to mask the flavor of your steak.

Oh, and for future reference, rare feels like the fleshy base of your thumb, medium feels like the tip of your nose. Enjoy those steaks!!

38 Will December 15, 2008 at 2:45 pm

To address the bit about animal cruelty…

It all comes down to where you get it from.

Plant-based foods can be the same way. Did they chop down acres and acres of forest for the farm land? Did they spray the fields with thousands of gallons of pesticides that are now in our groundwater?

Meat doesn’t have a corner on the irresponsibility market.

I get my meat from either local family farmers or from hunting (and if you have an issue with that, I’ll be happy to address the issue). The meat is fresh and healthy, and I can age it as I wish.

39 jacoba May 19, 2009 at 2:36 am

Do you guys use the rump of the beef for steaks over there?

40 Sean May 19, 2009 at 2:10 pm

The only thing I’d add to this grill article is to get, and trust, a meat thermometer. It doesn’t seem very manly, but unless you are a god on the grill (and wouldn’t need the article), it’s advisable to just go out and buy a thermometer with a meat probe on it.

Or do what Gordon Ramsay does.

If the meat gives like when you push your finger with your cheek, it’s rare. Chin, medium. Forehead, well done.

41 Richard Bull May 25, 2009 at 11:53 am

Cholesterol Molesterol! WHat a bunch of hooie. LDL levels are more determined by your parents than eating beef. Enjoy a good steak with only lemon pepper and olive oil applied prior to grilling and you are doing yourself a favor and lessening the stress of your regular day (which can cause other health problems) Eat some veggies with your steak and everything will be fine. THen don’t forget a cup of coffe and a piece of pie for dessert! If only Grandpa JOnes had thought of that!

As stated previously – the slaughter of beef is terribly humane.

I want to know more about hunting beef. I go cow hunting but it is on our ranch and we are looking for cattle to go to market, not like hunting deer(rifle) or pigs(dogs). Do you use dogs or a rifle to hunt cattle?

42 babyback rib mom June 24, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Excellent and easy advice on how to cook a steak. I made the mistake of buying a huge 5 burner gas grill only to figure out that I could not get the temperature up without burning through a tank every week. Now, I have a small 3 burner grill and I can achieve temps of around 800 degrees. When the fire melts the grate cleaner brush, you know it is hot enough:)

43 Justin August 4, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Just a note, for all the health concerns. Forage-fed (aka grass-fed) beef has been shown to have fat ratios (omega-3 vs omega-6) similar to fish, and close to ideal for current knowledge of human dietary requirements. All the (possibly overblown) concern about the fats of red meat is a result of grain-fed beef.

44 JamesGardner August 5, 2009 at 2:21 pm

I hate self-righteous vegetarians. My wife went vegan and started into me with that crap. I decided I liked steak more than her and split a year ago. Good riddance.

45 Alain August 10, 2009 at 10:01 pm

For Amy and other vegetarians: the science supporting the claim that red meat is either unnecessary or bad for us is flimsy at best. Dr. Michael Eades and Prof. Loren Cordan, among many others, have provided plenty of evidence that a diet based on plant foods, animal protein, fruits, nuts, and seeds has an extremely beneficial effect on our health. It all boils down to this: for thousands of years, did we not eat most animals that came our way? Is this what we are “designed” to eat, instead of man-made breads and pastas and sugary products?

46 Alain August 10, 2009 at 10:02 pm

My mistake: it’s Prof. Cordain.

47 Josh September 1, 2009 at 9:32 am

Hey amy…go back to your softball game and your socialist cronies and leave us alone…I bet you need alot of makeup too…

48 DuBach September 28, 2009 at 1:44 am

“You don’t win friends with salad” – Homer J. Simpson
“The West wasn’t won on salad” – The Nevada Cattlemen’s Assoc.

And another friendly tip. Talk to your butcher and/or carefully look at the labeling for a processing date. Many chain markets routinely DYE the meat red. Another good reason why a butcher is best and why using red as an indicator is misleading. Meat that should already be brown may look red from dye and by the time the red disapates it has turned GREEN. I have bought several of those from Walmart when I was in college. NEVER AGAIN!

49 Abe November 3, 2009 at 11:47 am

The best meat I’ve ever tasted:

I was at my parents for the weekend, and my old man had just gotten a deer with his bow a few days earlier. He cut out the tenderloin and sat it aside. When it was time for dinner, I rolled the tenderloins in salt, pepper, and crushed rosemary while he fired up the grill to full heat. When I took the meat out to the grill, he turned the heat down to medium-low on one side, and turned the oher side completely off as he placed the meat on the “off” side and on the second tier of the grill. We let it roast for 15 or 20 minutes, then enjoyed the juiciest, tenderest, most delicious piece of meat that I’ve ever eaten.

50 Mike November 9, 2009 at 2:06 am

Here’s one I learned from my Oupa (Grandfather) while he taught me how to cook an african buffalo steak on an open fire:

Rare: Touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your index finger. Between the very base of your thumb and your wrist on the inside of your hand is a group of muscles. If you want it rare, cook the meet until it’s as soft as that pad of flesh.

Medium Rare: Touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your middle finger, etc. etc. etc.

Well done: Touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your ring finger.

Get it? Works great in my opinion. Although, I only cook and eat rare steaks.

51 Ben January 9, 2010 at 12:04 am

This article made me hungry. I love steak. It’s one of my life’s dreams to raise my own cow for consumption.

52 Ryan March 13, 2010 at 11:41 am

Random comment I know, but does anyone have some good tips for using leftover grill heat? I get done with my steak for the wife and I and always regret all of that charcoal just sitting there with no plans to take advantage. Any tips?

53 Roger Imhada March 13, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Amy, go away!

54 Karl March 13, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Buy a whole beef tenderloin and cut into 3 in thick steaks. Salt and Pepper and a little Olive Oil. Grill 8 min on each side to med rare. Cameron is right. Use a wicked hot fire. Hot as you can get. My gas grill will get to 1000 degrees but I love the flavor I get from cooking over real wood. If you want good flavor, cook it over wood. 125 internal temp. Then baste in purified butter and serve on a hot plate. AWESOME!! Try it!!

55 Karl March 13, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Ryan,

For the leftover grill heat try grilling some bread that has been lightly buttered or even some vegetables. For a little surf and turf you can throw some shrimp skewers on for a good compliment to your steak.

Another thing I do while my steak is resting is to parboil some new potatoes about 1/2 way through and finish on the grill for some good extra flavor and color. Hope this helps.

KE

56 Aaron March 13, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Amy – “really my concern was the fact that, although a well-prepared steak is an icon of masculinity, perhaps it should not be. what if the baddest dudes ate salad instead?”

Yes, because soooo many women have come up to me while eating a salad and said, “man your such a bad dude, ravish me now!”

Maybe women should change and realize that men would rather enjoy life than to live the longest, blandest life possible.

57 Will March 13, 2010 at 6:25 pm

This is an ‘Art of Manliness’ article is it not. Can we not keep the self congratulatory lip flapping to a minimum? The world is full of easily offended sanctimonious over educated lip flappers. This is not the space for them.

Get off my lawn.

58 gcb March 22, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Overall, very good, but I would add that you should never flip your steak by stabbing it with a meat fork or anything like that – use tongs. Puncturing the meat just lets the juice out prematurely (same as the reason you let it rest after cooking).

Oh, and for the record, the most recent research indicates that the dangers from meat eating are vastly over-rated – no discernible link between consumption of animal fat and cardiovascular disease, according to the most recent meta-study. You should be more concerned with the long-term effects of consuming grains, rather than a good grass-fed steak!

59 Jarbs April 13, 2010 at 10:33 am

Just got a new grill/smoker and am looking forward to rib-eyes this weekend. I’ve grilled a lot of steaks but really don’t know what I’m doing. They all taste great to me. So this site is a good one and maybe I’ll learn to grill a great steak eventually. Oh, while I think that Amy is probably a very nice person I agree that the comment about the ugly girl & makeup is harmless and a good analogy. We shouldn’t have to tippy-toe through life 24/7 afraid we’re going to hurt other’s feelings . Pass the beer.

60 Matt Reed April 13, 2010 at 5:20 pm

I saw a chef from Ruth’s Chris on my local news one night showing how he cooks his steaks with a perfect pink center. He got his grill blazin hot, probably like 600 degrees or something, and then threw his steaks on with the lid closed for 1 minute to sear one side. Then did the same to the other side, 1 minute. Next he changed it to medium/low and and did both sides again except 4 minutes per side. So, after 10 minutes you’ve seared both sides and cooked both sides. Then you’re just supposed to let it rest 5 minutes and that’s it. Per-fect-o!

This process has worked great for me because before I really sucked at steaks and got scared every time I had to cook for a bunch of peeps. I use it so much I made myself an iPhone app with those exact times preset so I just go down the list. http://itunes.com/apps/steakulator

You can prepare it however you want, this is a really good list of Tips to start with.

61 TugBoat April 26, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Great post! Naturally, people differ in opinions when it comes to cooking the best steak. There are many times when I just simply salt and peppered it, other times with olive oil and S&P, then there are other times when I will have BBQed seasoned steak. All fine ways to go! To me, steak—-ahhh, it’s hard to beat! Regardless of what some people think, when eating steak–you cannot help but feel like a man! Then again, my girl loves her steak as well. So, rather…it’s more like you cannot help but enjoy a good quality steak! My girl likes hers well done, I like mine medium rare–extra bloody. So good. *shakes head*

As far as health benefits/concerns go–here is my opinion. I have lost about 120 pounds of fat and now weigh about 190. I was a large fella. But I am also bad to the bone, when it comes to lifting heavy..seriously weights. Not just in the gym, but barrels, logs, kegs, tractor tires. whatever! My point that I want to make is—I do not follow any ridiculous diet. I listen to what my body tells me to eat. I eat whole, natural food. None of that refined shit. Over the years of lifting heavy weights, my body always craves for red meat. Trust me, i opted to eat chicken and fish…but it never fils me up. Sometimes, an hr or 2 later…I’m hungry again. However, when I eat red meat, hamburgers, steaks, ribs—whatever…my body feels nutritionally satisfied and I always get stronger. That is not the case with chicken or fish, except chicken livers maybe. If eaten in moderation….and as long as you’re seriously physically active…i actually think it is imperative that you eat red meat! Then again, everybody’s body is different.

But seriously….what is better than a grilled steak, people?? That’s it, I am going to cook one now. Ha!!

62 Chris June 2, 2010 at 1:06 am

Amy, perhaps if you spend a few year trying to earn a living on a cow/calf operation with months of hard, dirty, and cold work. you appreciate us meat eaters a bit more. Have you ever pulled a calf, ever doctored on for pink eye or rot foot? Ever seen the vet bills you get and supply bills you get to keep them healthy? Ever get up long before the sun does and sweat through the day and not stop until after nightfall, and do that day in an day out to keep cattle? Ever head out in a blizzard to check on them, see if they are in sheltered place while you are standing on the knolls keeping an eye on them? Ever been kicked by one, stompped on by one or just plaing run over by one?

I’ve done all those things, perhaps if you had, you’d appreciate a good steak too.!

63 Cat June 13, 2010 at 8:11 pm

As a female and a vegetarian, I’d like to say that this article did not offend me at all. I gave up meat solely because I object to dirty and inhumane factory farming, not meat-eating in general, which can be both healthy and humane. What offends me is people like Dezmovous, who seem hell-bent on making all women and all vegetarians look like self-righteous psychos.

64 LT July 29, 2010 at 6:34 pm

bought t-bone steak at the store, packaged, 5.99 per pound
brought it home, opened it, put a lot of sea salt on each side and covered it with clear plastic
after about 45 minutes i rinsed the steak well under the faucet with cool water, rinsed all the salt off
i patted it dry with paper towels, i guess it wasn’t super dry but i did it a few times as well as possible
i rubbed a little olive oil on both sides
i put a cast-iron grill skillet on high heat for about 10 min
i dropped the steak in for about 4 minutes, flipped it for about another 4 minutes… it had nice grill marks but was gray everywhere else, i don’t know what happened.

65 Vego December 13, 2012 at 5:08 am

“6. Dig in. And pity your poor vegetarian friends.”

As a vegetarian I can tell you my mouth is watering at this article.

66 Richie December 13, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I like to add a pat of butter to the frying pan at the end. Let it sit in the sizzling butter for about thirty seconds on each side.

67 James Pleasant March 12, 2013 at 1:34 pm

As a lover of rare beef, it pains me that my wife prefers hers medium-well to well done. I mean, I have offered to let her have some of the charcoal and I’ll eat the meat, but she does not find this amusing. Inside, I prefer to pan fry…I have a cast iron skillet and a cast iron griddle and a gas stove. I put a little olive oil spray on the griddle and on the BOTTOM of the skillet, then I put the griddle on one burner and the skillet UPSIDE-DOWN on another and let them both heat. When both are smoking hot, I put the steak on the griddle, season it with a little salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder (quickly), then flip it and do the same to the other side, flip it back, and put the skillet on top to sear both sides. Let it cook for a couple of minutes, max. If you prefer your meat a little more well done, like my wife, use a thinner cut or put the griddle with the meat on it in the oven after searing until it’s as done as you like it. Be sure to let it rest, though, or it might be a bit on the tough side with that much cooking! :)

68 Jay March 12, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Wait, people sear steaks still? If you want to chew on dry carbon, why not skip the meat and just eat the charcoal? Joking some, but I HATE it when I get my steak seared. I prefer them juicy.
For refrence
http://www.cookthink.com/reference/7/Does_searing_meat_really_seal_in_moisture
http://www.foodnetwork.com/videos/to-sear-or-not-to-sear/24511.html

69 Jarrod March 12, 2013 at 1:50 pm

There are several key things missing from this article. Just a few things.
As background I am a chef.cook by trade. I have been cooking steaks since I was about 10 years old. My old man turned over the spatula and tongs to me when I was 13. Told me I would be grilling from then on. After high school I went to culinary school. I now work as a sous chef.

1.) NEVER poke your steak. WITH ANYTHING! Even a thermometer. As soon as you pull out the thermometer, the juices simply run out of the meat. That is a worse crime than overcooking it.

2.) If you spend more than $10 dollars on a meat thermometer you are getting ripped off! There is NO need, whatsoever, for an $80 thermometer.

3.) NEVER flip your steak with anything other than spatulas or tongs. I have seen guys desecrate a perfectly good steak with a meat fork. I have cooked many different type of cuisines in my life, and I have only once found a meat fork useful; when carving a large roast. BUT NEVER FOR FLIPPING A STEAK. Only tongs or spatulas.

4.) Let the steak rest on the counter before cooking. Time will vary on thickness, but it needs to get as close to room temperature as possible. This prevents the cells and protein structures in the meat from “shocking”. The temperature change won’t be as drastic.

5.) Always let the steak rest before serving/eating. Otherwise the juices will all run out (just like with the thermometer). The protein cell structures need time to relax.

Follow those (and some from the article) simple steps, and you can cook a wonderful steak!

Oh, and one more thing, NEVER cook a steak past medium rare! If you are going to do that, just eat your shoes. Don’t waste perfectly good steak by killing it again. It’s already dead!

70 Patrick Downs March 12, 2013 at 1:53 pm

I learned this from cook and author Mark Bittman, and it’s great. I take the sirloins and rub them slightly with olive oil, put salt/pepper of Montreal Steak on them and rub in, and put them in a pyrex dish in the oven at 400-450f. when the meat is about 90-100f (7-10 mins), i throw them on a very hot grill for the sear, to about 135f. This gives me a very even medium rare through the inside, sealed by a very nice thin sear on just the exterior. Try it! (You can do stage 1 and cook only to 90f for more rare).

71 Kevin March 12, 2013 at 2:09 pm

No discussion about the role a meat tenderizer like a Jaccard can do to make a good steak great, but that’s OK!

72 Joshua Streeter March 12, 2013 at 2:35 pm

What Dan said in comment #6 is spot on, and sometimes a preferable way to cook a steak. One addition (or three), if I may be so bold…

I buy a much thicker than average cut, to either share with a special lady friend, or have leftovers for steak and egg breakfast. I believe this allows for a MUCH juicier steak. I adjust the cooking time to 2 minutes per side in the pan, and 2 minutes per side in the oven.

Oh, yeah, a HIGH quality olive oil (not supermarket junk) is essential. Don’t believe the hype about not cooking with olive oil. If it’s good, it can take the heat. Also, get the pan HOT first, and then add the olive oil to the pan. In this case, get the oven to 500 or as high as it can go.

And one last, and the MOST IMPORTANT STEP. Either find a lid to cover the pan for 10 mintues, or throw that sucker in tin foil, and DO NOT open for 10 minutes. Or more. You’ve already flipped it enough, keep your hands off it for a while! Saute’ some asparagus real quick during this time, or light some candles, or whatever…just don’t open your little “oven.”

The key in this, or on the grill, is what I’ve told guys a million times: “Do not over handle your meat!”

73 Eric March 12, 2013 at 2:40 pm

I cook at an Italian char house for a living and I concur. Our beef (a mix of USDA Select and Choice) has been wet-aged for 2 weeks before we receive it. It doesn’t have to be off-colored to be considered well-aged and best for consumption. In fact, the discoloring (caused by a process of oxidation) can negatively impact the flavor, giving what I can only describe as a ‘metallic’ flavor to the beef. Professionally dry-aged beef actually has a significant percentage of it’s surface cut away from the steak before it’s sold to a restaurant. On the topic of seasoning, customers frequently ask us what we use and they’re always surprised to hear it: salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder. The garlic plays well with the beef flavor, give it a try. Lastly, if you’re thinking USDA Prime (top 1% of harvest,) try a Certified Black Angus cut instead. It comprises the top 8% of beef harvested (from the top two tiers of Choice to Prime) and is nearly impossible to distinguish from Prime in flavor and tenderness, but is much less expensive. Hope that helps, cheers!

74 matt c March 12, 2013 at 4:27 pm

If this article has any bearing on how steaks are “butchered” (and I don’t mean cut up) in the States, I for one will be taking the vegetarian option.

Fillet does not need a flavour enhancer other than maybe a little salt/pepper, if they do maybe it’s due to your uneducated pallette. Maybe you should try them cooked “blue”, you’ll find they have a wonderful flavour, for that matter cook a thick slice of rib-eye blue too and try that.

For a country that thinks of itself as a nation of meat eaters, you really are letting yourselves down.

75 Eric March 12, 2013 at 5:45 pm

@matt c

Sorry you had a bad experience here. If you ever find yourself in Minnesota, come in to Mancini’s Char House, St. Paul. I’ll cook you one of the greatest steaks you ever tasted. If you never actually tried a real American steak however, then you really ought to troll somewhere else. You are way out of your league here.

76 passerby March 12, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Great post! I will try it out this weekend.

“If even your dog doesn’t want to take a bite – it is too late.”

Love that comment. So true

77 Silviu March 12, 2013 at 9:32 pm

I liked the article!

I don’t understand why everyone has to make such a big deal about it…politically and socially. People have been eating meat for millennia.

Also, I don’t believe for a minute that meat is bad for you: it is not exercising, playing XBOX instead of chopping wood that is your problem!

Again, thank you Cameron for your work!

78 Steve March 13, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Ok you have grilled the perfect steak now DO NOT serve it on a COLD plate.
I heat the serving plate so it is at least very warm before I put the steak on it. It can rest and still be nice and warm. If you have ever eaten at a Ruth’s Chris you will know what I am speaking about.

79 Smo April 20, 2013 at 10:34 pm

I liked the article, hated most of the off comments. I do wish they would have addressed finishing a steak in the oven.

I tried a bourbon recipe recently …. huge god-awful. Ruined it.

80 Joe February 23, 2014 at 10:39 am

Eric, I’ve had your steak down at Mancini’s. Loved it! Great place there. Anyone who has eaten the steak and danced in that bar could not possibly leave dissatisfied. St. Paul’s finest.

81 Ali Qasim April 5, 2014 at 11:58 pm

is there any difference in cow and buffalo meat regarding steak recepie,

do i need to change cooking method for each one

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Site Meter