MY LATEST GUIDELINES…
The Rule of Fours: Start with a fully thawed, dry, room temperature steak. Put on a HOT (and I mean HOT!!!!) grill, 4-minutes per side over direct heat, then remove and tent with aluminum foil for an additional 4 minutes. Finishes rare/medium rare. Salt and pepper. Eat. If it’s just too pink for you, then put it back on the grill, away from direct heat for 4 minutes. Finishes medium.
1) If you have a WICKED HOT grill, then you may only require 3-minutes a side. Just take a peak at this point and see if you have a good char going – if so, then flip it.
2) If you have a not-so-hot grill, the steaks are still a bit cold from the fridge, or you otherwise just want a more done steak, then it might take 5-minutes a side or more. Just be attentive through the 3-6 minutes phase.
3) No prodding. Prodding suggest insecurity and you don’t want to be insecure around your grill, family, and friends. Be confident. Go to the bathroom in between flips (don’t doddle and make sure and wash your hands). Now that would be impressive.
2) Most Sun Prairie steaks are cut thick to 1 1/4″. If you get a cut that appears a bit thin (due the vagaries of the piece it was cut from) then reduce the cooking per side to 3-minutes per side.
3) There’s nothing wrong with making a surgical incision into the beef to check for redness – but hold off doing this until after your steak has rested since it will continue to cook during this important phase. An even better, surefire way to check for doneness is to use a digital thermometer (I like 120-130 degrees – rare to medium rare)
Best Cuts for this Recipe: Tenderloin, Porterhouse, T-Bone, Bone-in Ribeye (aka Rib Steak), Delmonico, and Sirloin.
Good Cuts: Flatiron, Flank, Skirt, and Sirloin Flap. These cuts are thin. The method still works, but it’s for a much shorter time (ie less than 3mins)
Avoid: Ranch Steak, Tenderized Top Round, Sirloin Tip Kebobs, Spare Ribs, Roasts, London Broil, and Brisket.
To watch a real pro, check out Mark Bittman’s “The Basics of Grilled Steak”
Tenderloin Steak – Otherwise known as the fillet mignon, this is a very tender steak with great mouth feel. We don’t get many of these from each animal, so availability is limited. Salt, pepper, grill…don’t try to hard with this one. Light flavorful sauces are divine with this steak.
T-Bone Steak – The T-bone is really a bone-in New York strip with a bit of tenderloin on the other. Another wonderful steak with two distinct parts – don’t overcook and tread lightly with the spices – keep it simple.
New York Strip – See above. This is a boneless steak that sits well on the grill. This is a tender cut that doesn’t need a lot of additional support. Great with mushrooms.
Porterhouse Steak – The is a large steaks that is really a bone-in New York strip on one side and big chunk of tenderloin on the other. It is a favorite for many and for good reason. See above for treatment.
Rib Steak – aka Bone-in Ribeye. Classic and one of my favorites. The meat is tender with great flavor. Pairs nicely with a robust red wine and grilled broccoli.
Top Sirloin Steak – A boneless cut with a full, beefy flavor, it is somehow so positively different from a grain-fed version of the same name. While it can stand alone on the grill with little preparation, I prefer this steak with an adventurous rub – open your spice drawer and go crazy as this steak can really hold up to the challenge. Try sage, pepper corns, salt, and a few red pepper flakes.
Flatiron Steak – aka the top blade steak. This small steak’s only detractor is the unfortunate strip of gristle that runs down the center. Carve around it on your plate for one of the most tender and flavorful pieces of beef. It tends to thin, so be attentive at the grill. I favor light spice treatment.
Flank, Skirt, and Sirloin Flap Steak – These cuts, listed in order of quality, can be used interchangeably when demanded in recipes. These cuts are thin, grainy, and incredibly delicious. I prefer these as classic fajitas grilled with a dry rub and finished with a squeeze of lime during the rest. They also do well with a southwest marinade (see website for Keith’s Fajitas).
Top Round Steak – We mechanically tenderize this steak to increase its versatility. Appropriate for the grill after a marinade (store bought varieties are great for this one), this under appreciated cut can be turned into a delicious fajita or stir fry meal. Slice thin across the grain. Keith’s Fajitas recipe makes this cut sing!
Ranchers Steak – These are relatively small steaks that is best as diminutive cubes for a beef and bean stove top recipe or in an asian stir fry, though they can still be grilled. Another good candidate for store bought marinades, this steak should not be overcooked. Also known as the center cut steak.
Sirloin Tip Kebobs – aka “Tips”. This cut is the only one that I recommend cooking to and beyond medium. These pre-cut large cubes are obviously great for kebobs, but also are excellent in everything from beef stroganoff, casseroles, and buef au poivre. Incredibly versatile and popular.