There comes a time in every young, grill-using person’s life when they fish their steaks off the rack only to find that what they’ve created is no longer food. It’s a horrible, charred, shoe-leather disaster and it’s not even deserving of the cheapest paper plate, let alone the stomachs of people you care about enough to feed.
Tragically, statistics* show that this awful meat catastrophe happens with increased frequency during the summer months — the months citizens of Las Vegas are enduring right this very moment.
But, there’s hope. In addition to broiling temperatures, slot machines in grocery stores and Criss Angel, Las Vegas also has a lot of great chefs. Chefs that aren’t content to let would-be grillmasters toil alone. One such chef — Strip House’s Executive Chef John Schenk — took to action, issuing eight steps to help people with their meat endeavors.
Rather than try and reword these steps (a risky exercise in semantics), here they are in their entirety:
1. Make it Marbled
The best steaks for home grilling are perfectly marbled beef rib eye steaks or bone-in rib eye steaks (often called Cowboy Steaks). The marbling, flecks of fat shot through the meat, enhances the flavor of the steak while basting the meat to ensure a juicy end result.
2. Oil it
Use a canola/olive blended oil to coat the steak before seasoning it. By lightly coating the meat, you’ll get a quick sear, ensuring a juicier final product as well as greatly aiding the charring. Save expensive olive oils for salads, where their subtle flavors will shine brightest.
3. Season Simply
A well-marbled steak needs only coarsely ground black pepper and kosher salt to bring flavor perfection. It really is a case of the sum being greater than the parts. Be sure to season a bit more than you might regularly season a sautéed item, as some of the steak’s seasoning will be lost in the grilling process. You want to be sure to have enough on the steak to get the job done.
4. It’s All About Heat
High heat sears the cooking surface of the meat, allowing for the perfect combination of charred outside and juicy inside. Keep two sides of the grill hot and move the steak to the second hot spot if the first grilling area is aggressively flaming up. Dousing with water is a last resort; you want to keep the grill as hot as possible, while keeping safety in mind.
5. Don’t Flip Out
Flipping the steak too often can sabotage the charring of the meat and eliminate most of the seasoning on the steak. Don’t drag the steak over the grill when turning. Pick it up in one motion and place it back with the same motion.
6. Rest and Relax
Once you have achieved the desired temperature, remove the steak from the heat and allow it to rest for at least five minutes on a grate over a pan before cutting it. Make sure there is air all around the steak to stop the cooking process. The internal juices will redistribute throughout the steak, which will relax and become tender. Cutting it too soon will allow the juices to spill out turning a medium rare steak into a medium plus steak.
7. Sizzle and Salt
After the steak has rested, return it to the grill for about 30 seconds on each side just before serving to get a surface sizzle going. A little sprinkle of a grey sea salt on the steak allows for a gentle and focused re-seasoning of the steak.
8. Spread the Magic
With the above tips, you’ll quickly become known as a grill master. Buy a couple of steaks (make sure they are marbled), invite some friends over and impress them with your newly found grill skills. It’s up to you if you want to share your secrets.
If you still can’t figure things out, even with the help of an award-winning chef, well, maybe it’s time to hang up the tongs. You can check out Schenk’s handiwork at Strip House at Planet Hollywood or take a look at the steakhouse round-up here. (It’s a PDF.)
*In this instance, “statistics” means “an educated guess.”