With my first recipe in our grilling series, I thought I would dive right into the kingpin of grilling. The almighty steak is on the menu today and we are going to our best to learn how to be great at grilling steak. A great grilled steak is a pinnacle of backyard heroism and today we are going to try and make the best grilled steak we can. So, get your grill stoked up, plan a trip to your local butcher, and follow along as we spend our time grilling steak the best we can. Go straight to the recipe.
Equipment is important in grilling steak and can change how you need to cook. With a little mindfulness, the same instructions in this post can translate to any number of grills, but the grill I use is a Weber Genesis that has a sear station. I love my grill and having a gas grill makes getting set up quick, fast, and easy. I will say that I have often considered getting a secondary charcoal grill, as there is a certain something about those charcoal flavors that is hard to replace. While I don’t have a smoker, I do have a smoke box for my Genesis, so that can help a bit with the aroma and flavor. Sometimes it would be nice to have that charcoal grill.
I did consider just purchasing a charcoal Weber instead of the Genesis but ultimately decided that the ease of a gas grill was worth it for me. I mean, if it were up to me I would have a gas grill, charcoal grill, pellet grill/smoker, and probably an electric smoker. Do I need to get to a point where I have 10 grills and can’t afford the steak? Ha! Today, we are going to be grilling steak on my Weber Genesis!
In addition to the grill, I use tongs and tend to use a thermometer when I want a steak done exactly. I have been known to just throw on a steak and estimate using the touch system, but I am not a pro and sometimes that can end poorly. If I am spending good money on a great steak, I will always use a thermometer.
Cut of Steak
Up until doing research (aka eating lots of steaks) for this series, I was a T-Bone fan. Still am a T-Bone fan. There is something about that big ol’ hunk of meat with that bone sitting in there that is special. Serious Eats has listed the four high-end steaks everybody should know as Ribeye, Strip, T-Bone (or Porterhouse), and Tenderloin. I still am a fan of the T-bone, but my research for this thread has led me down a bit of a rabbit hole that has expanded my tastes! RIBEYE is where it is at. There are some very good reasons to choose a ribeye for your steak grilling and here are some reasons:
- The cut of meat is very uniform compared to T-Bones and Porterhouses. I said I liked T-Bones (which is actually two cuts of meat), but I have learned that a ribeye gives me a bit more control over temperature and doneness. So, the chances you are going to maximize the appropriate doneness are less in a T-Bone or Porterhouse, but you are more likely going to hit it appropriately with an even steak.
- It tends to have more fat and flavor than other cuts of meat. The tenderloin tends to be more… um… tender, but it also misses a bit of the flavor. The ribeye is a great cut that has tenderness and flavor. On the other end of the spectrum, the strip has flavor, but tends to be less tender than a ribeye.
- Part of the reason I like the T-Bone is that you have this nice big bone to gnaw on. With a ribeye, you might not always get that, but you can buy it with a bone attached.
Buying A Ribeye
So beef is graded. The grades we grill are Prime, Choice, and Select, with the quality being respectively lower in the order I listed them. Most grocery stores will tend to have choice and select, while you can order prime cuts or your local butcher may stock them. Here in my city, prime steak does show up, but generally during special times like 4th of July or Memorial Day.
For this post, I tried to find a cut of prime ribeye in the entire city, with no luck. That shouldn’t keep you from finding a great steak. You can do this by just looking at it. Look for nice marbling of fat within the meat. Here is a bit of an intro.
Thickness of Your Steak
Leave that 1-incher in the meat case. A quality steak should be at least 1.5 inches and maybe up to 2 inches.
Grilling Steak Basics
Before I start, I have to give props to a cooking blog that I continually find inspiration from. Serious Eats has a great post on steaks that I used as a source of inspiration and want to make sure to give them credit for their food awesomeness.
In terms of steak basics, we want a sear on the outside and have a nice red to pink (I like my steak medium rare) center.
Preheat that Grill and Know Your Zones
To grill a great steak, you have to understand what a sear is and how to get it to your optimal temperature. Your grill should be broken up into zones. One portion of your grill will be extra hot. This is where you will be searing your steak. Then, you will have a part of the grill that does not have so much heat. If you are using charcoal, this could mean having more coal on one side that is at a hotter temperature. For those of us with gas grills with multiple burners, it means having one side on high and the other side set very low. In fact, my Weber comes with a ‘Sear Station’ that allows for a little extra heat on one side of the grill. The sear station isn’t necessary, but it does help when grilling steak to get a little extra oomph on that sear.
The Steak Sear
The nice, brown, crusty outside of the steak is created through the sear and the Maillard reaction. This is what gives off that awesome smell I always get when I pass by a neighbor’s yard when I KNOW they are grilling. The sear creates flavor and texture to the outside of the meat. While the meat itself will have a distinct flavor that hopefully, you will taste, the sear can be shared by all cuts of meat in different capacities.
The Steak Cooking
My preferred method for searing the steak to start with and then grilling at a lower temperature to finish out the cooking process. Perhaps it is not quite baking, but it is time after the searing that brings your meat to the doneness that you prefer. There are many people who reverse sear steak. That is, they perform the cooking to bring it to doneness first and then quickly sear it at the end. This is a perfectly reasonable way to cook a steak, but not how I prefer to do this.
Grilling Steaks and Thermometers
If you know how to gauge doneness by touch, that is great. I have been to known to do this on occasion as well, but I also have had moments when I have messed up my steak. Because of that, I like to use my thermometer most of the time. If you are spending good money on a nice ribeye, there is no shame in using a thermometer to get your desired level of doneness. I absolutely promote the use of thermometers. The level of doneness I recommend is rare to medium rare and here is a chart.
Why Do People Hate Well Done Steaks?
First, I say grill your damn steak however you want. Don’t let other people tell you how to like your food. I am guessing that 95% of the people who make fun of people for eating well-done steak don’t even really have a great reason. They are just saying it because they heard someone else say it. I do think there are legitimate opinions that people have on the subject, but I just don’t think most people have thought about it enough and just like to be opinionated about grilling steak for the sake of it.
I did see a great thread on reddit where a chef explained it as eloquently as I have seen. He basically explains that the entire process of a great cut of meat is designed around putting a rare to medium-rare steak on your plate. From the raising of the cattle, to the purchasing from the chef, to the recipe that shows up on your plate… it is all designed around a less-than-medium steak. If you order it well done, this chef explains that you are not going to get the meat how he means it to be served. Maybe you will be happy, but maybe not.
So, I do see that logic and there is more in that comment thread that is interesting to read. Still, at the end of the day, I like my meat red, but if you like it burnt to hell, good on you. Now, I’m not gonna lie that I probably would say something smart alecy if I bought your steak and it was a spendy slab of beef that you wanted well done. Your grill… your rules. Eat your steak how you want!
Nah. I am not going to say I will never use a marinade when grilling steak, but it really isn’t my thing. I feel that a great steak does not need a marinade. About an hour or so before I grill my steak, I do lightly coat it with olive oil and then generously rub salt and pepper on it. These seasonings are meant to enhance the sear and the flavor of the crust.
We have really covered quite a bit in our deep dive of steak grilling. I hope you learned something, as I sure did in this exploration! It was a really fun and tasty way to spend some time with these steaks. If you like what I am doing here, please subscribe to get updates by email and follow me on Instagram!
Products I Use For This Recipe
The BEST SteakPrint
There is no reason you can’t make a killer steak and this post has all the information you need to make a wonderful steak. While this recipe says the steak is four servings… and it is… it really is one serving to me. On special occasions when I am grilling steak, I want it to be awesome and I will indulge a bit!
- 1 lb Ribeye
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- salt and pepper, to taste, but be generous
- The night before, unwrap steak and put on plate in the refrigerator (optional)
- About 30 minutes before starting grill, take steak out of refrigerator and coat with olive oil.
- Rub Ribeye with salt and pepper
- Allow to sit outside of refrigerator
- Preheat grill so that you will have one zone at 500 and another with indirect heat. The hot zone will be your sear side and the other will be where you cook to doneness.
- Once preheated and grates allowed to become hot, add steak to sear side for 90 seconds.
- Flip and sear the other side for 90 seconds.
- Move to the other side.
- Allow to cook for 3 more minutes on each side. The thickness of your steak will impact how quickly it cooks. Do not be afraid to measure the temps.
- Use your thermometer to get your temp. When it reaches 125 for rare, 135 for medium-rare, or 140 for medium, remove from grill.
- Allow to sit for 5 minutes