While it may be fall, according to the calendar, if you’re like us here you are going to be outside grilling until you literally cannot (like if the path from your door to the grill is covered in four feet of snow). Until that time, though, we’re going to grill everything we can. From vegetables to pork chops, we love it all. What we love the most, though, is a perfectly grilled steak.
If you’re a seasoned grill master, then you probably have your steak-cooking skills down pat. But if you just bought your first grill or are looking for some red meat pointers, we’re here to help.
We enlisted the expertise of Dusmane Tandia, executive chef at Mastro’s Steakhouse in New York City, for some tips on how to grill the perfect steak. Tandia cranks out delicious steaks on the reg, so we asked him for his best tips and tricks, which he thankfully supplied to us.
Check out the quick and handy list, then keep reading for more explanation of each point.
Tips for Grilling the Perfect Steak
- Seasoning is important.
- Make sure the meat is dry.
- Keep the grill hot.
- Don’t cut to check doneness.
- Cast iron is your steak’s best friend.
- Let the meat rest before enjoying.
Season, Season, Season
Be sure to generously salt your steak in advance and let it sit, uncovered, for a few hours or (if possible) overnight in your fridge. This helps to season the meat all the way through. It also draws out some of the moisture in the meat, which will result in an even better sear. You could use pre-made seasonings, but if you’re cooking up a high-quality steak, it’s always best to let the flavor of the steak shine through. You can have some steak sauce handy for after, but let the salt (and maybe some pepper) do its thing during the actual cooking process.
Make Sure the Meat is Dry
After salting the meat and letting it sit, pat it dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Some salt on a steak is a good thing, but a ton of salt on a steak will send you to the nearest gas station looking to buy all of the cheap beer in an attempt to quench your thirst.
Preheat your grill to medium-high or high to make it hot! The heat helps you avoid sticking and achieve the perfect sear. Here’s a quick guide to temperature based on your preferred level of doneness:
- Rare: 125 degrees Fahrenheit
- Medium rare: 135 degrees Fahrenheit
- Medium well: 150 degrees Fahrenheit
- Well-done: 160 degrees Fahrenheit
How to Tell When the Steak is Done
To see if a steak is finished, many chefs use the age-old trick of touching themselves. Not like that (get your mind out of the gutter — it’s grilling time!). Understanding how different parts of one’s hand feels is a quick and easy way to judge the relative doneness of one’s steak.
To do the hand trick, first make an OK sign.
- Rare: Using the original okay sign, touch the pad at the base of your thumb. It should feel spongy with very little resistance.
- Medium Rare: Press your middle finger to your thumb and again touch the pad below your thumb. Search for the same sponginess.
- Medium Well: Press your ring finger to your thumb, then feel the area below your thumb.
- Well-Done: Press your pinky to your thumb. It should feel firm with no give. (Note: Please don’t ruin your steaks by cooking them this long.)
The skin you’ve just been pressing gets progressively firmer with each finger tap. A medium steak (140 degrees Fahrenheit) would fall, obviously, between the firmness of medium rare and medium well. If all else fails, don’t be afraid to use a meat thermometer.
Cast Iron is Steak’s Best Friend
If you aren’t confident in your grilling skills or don’t have an outdoor space and you want that fool-proof steak, cook your meat in a cast iron skillet. It’s one of the best surfaces for getting a perfect sear and crust. As a bonus, you can transfer the cast iron from stovetop to oven seamlessly, leading to quick and easy cooking without having to dirty more than one pan. (If you’re using cast iron, remember to clean it properly when you’re done.)
Let it Rest
After cooking, let the meat rest before cutting and serving. This lets all of the juices to settle so the beef stays moist. Ideally, you want to let the steak rest for about five minutes for each inch of thickness. Most steaks you will get from the market are around 1.5 inches thick, so you’ll be looking at a seven- to eight-minute rest time.
And now, with all of this fresh steak knowledge, it’s time to put it to work by cooking up this bone-in ribeye recipe.
Mastro’s Bone-In Ribeye
- 2 bone-in ribeye steaks, 22 oz each
- 1 oz butter, melted
- 1 tsp parsley, chopped
- Steak rub of choice (Mastro’s uses a blend of fine sea salt, spices, starch, and papain extract)
- Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and let them rest at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes. (Tip: since you want an evenly-cooked steak, the closer you can get your steak to its final cooked temperature, the better.)
- Prepare a charcoal or gas grill (or preheat the broiler and position a rack 4 inches from the element). Lightly spray the grill rack with vegetable oil cooking spray. The coals should be medium-hot for the charcoal grill. The burners should be on high for the gas grill.
- Season the steaks by dredging them on both sides in the steak rub. Shake off the excess.
- If using a charcoal grill, cook on one side for 10 minutes. Turn using tongs and grill the other side for 10-12 minutes for medium-rare, or until the desired degree of doneness. If using a gas grill, grill for 7-8 minutes. Turn using tongs and grill the other side for 6-7 minutes for medium-rare, or until the desired degree of doneness. If using the broiler, broil 4 inches from the heat source for 8 minutes. Turn using tongs, and broil the other side for 6-7 minutes for medium-rare or until the desired degree of doneness.
- Remove the steaks from the heat and let sit for 8-10 minutes.
- To serve, slice the steaks into .75-inch-thick slices, place on a hot plate, and drizzle with melted butter and fresh chopped parsley if desired.
- Eat that perfectly-cooked masterpiece and give yourself a pat on the back.