It took me many trips to different butcher shops, and several iterations in the kitchen, until I got to a level of satisfaction with my grilled steak; a level that would be compared to when visiting famous steakhouses.
The formula for grilling the perfect steak involves three parameters: steak cut, seasoning, and cooking process.
Knowing your cut of steak
There are many criteria that must be taken into account when choosing the cut of steak; one of them is the origin of the steak (for example, Brazilian beef, Australian beef, or so-called “local” beef here in the United Arab Emirates). Once again, choosing a steak from a certain origin is subject to personal taste.
The type of steak cut is the main contributor to a satisfying steak grilling experience at home. Depending on the amount of fat and the way it is distributed, the cut of steak will have variable tenderness and a special flavor. There are four common types of steak cuts on any steakhouse menu.
Often referred to as “Filet mignon,” it is the most expansive cut of steak, due to its mild flavor and the least amount of fat included. It is my favorite choice.
new york strip
Often referred to as “top sirloin.” This cut is less tender compared to the tenderloin, with some fat marbling throughout, giving it a nice meaty flavor.
I consider it as the best option for the hardcore “Carnivore”. It is sold bone-in in the shape of a T, with meat on both sides. This cut has plenty of marbled fat all over it, making it super tender and juicy, with a meaty flavor.
Often referred to as “Entrecôte”. This cut is basically a prime rib cut into individual steaks. It has a lot of marbled fat in the meat and large pockets of fat interspersed, making it extra juicy with a savory meat flavor.
When it comes to seasoning, a true meat aficionado would prefer his steak to taste exceptional, which is why I recommend using just a pinch of pepper and sea salt to season a piece of meat, leaving it for fifteen minutes before grilling. Once your steak is ready to eat, you can enjoy the variety of sauces and dressings available in the market and in any steak house, but for grilling use only pepper and sea salt.
When it comes to the cooking process, there are two main styles: charcoal grilling and grilling. Grilling requires fewer parameters to control and is therefore easier to master. In this article I will focus on what I have actual experience with, which is grilling.
There are three main things you need for grilling (plus a good piece of steak): a frying pan, greasing material, and a pair of steak tongs.
I recommend using a non-stick skillet, sized appropriately to allow enough room around the steak piece. To grease you can use normal frying oil, or better use grill spray, which is easier to spread throughout the pan. When it comes to steak tongs, it is recommended to choose one that is large enough to hold the piece of steak steadily, but not too large that it makes it difficult to turn the piece of steak while grilling.
One important thing to learn is steak cooking styles. The style of cooking, known as a “Doneness” steak, affects the color and tenderness of the piece of steak, and also its flavor. As a general rule, leaving a piece of steak longer on the fire makes it darker in color and tougher to the touch. There are five common styles of cooking steak
I consider this to be the cooking style for a true “carnivore”. The piece of steak is almost raw. A rare steak is browned on the sides and bright red in the middle.
Most of the center of the steak piece should be pink with a hint of red. The sides should be nicely browned, the top and bottom caramelized to a deep brown with good grill marks.
This is the common level of doneness often acceptable to everyone. I recommend grilling this style when cooking for a party or family gathering. The piece of steak will have a thick light pink band down the middle, but more golden than pink. The sides should be a deep brown and the top and bottom darkly charred, but not black.
This is my preferred level of doneness, with just a hint of pink in the center of the steak. The surface should be dark brown with good charring on top and bottom. This steak will be very stiff but still have a slightly spongy feel in the center.
For true meat fans, this is the least popular level of doneness. On the other hand, this is the most popular option for people who eat steak occasionally and are more comfortable with the “Safe” option. This level of doneness is achieved only by slowly cooking the piece of steak at a relatively low temperature until no trace of red or pint color remains, while the exterior is browned with no trace of burns (Easy to mention, hard to achieve)
Test with your fingers to determine the doneness of the steak
To keep things simple, I won’t give hints as to how long to grill each side of the piece of steak, at what temperature for a given thickness or specific cut of steak. I’ll walk you through a simpler method, called the “Finger Test” which is used while a piece of steak is cooking, to see if it has reached a certain level of doneness.
With your hand open, press your finger into the meat of your hand (under your thumb), use the feel of the meat under your finger as a comparison when you touch the piece of steak while grilling:
Press with your index finger, the sensation is compared to the rare cooking style of the steak.
Press with your middle finger, the sensation compares to the steak’s medium rare cooking style.
Press with your ring finger, the sensation compares to medium-done steak style.
Press down with your little finger, the sensation is compared to the well-done cooking style of a steak.