By Twinkle VanWinkle, LIN Lifestyle Expert
Pulling a perfectly grilled steak off your backyard grill is one of the grandest feelings. The sky becomes a brighter blue; the trees are greener and the voices of angels trumpet from the heavens.
Well, maybe that’s just me.
But when you’ve had as many ups and downs as I’ve had, you might feel the same way.
Through trial and error – and many, many over-cooked steaks – here are some tips to follow that can help you grill a perfect steak.
Make sure you grill is cleaned and oiled. You’ll want to create a non-stick surface.
This is the most important advice you can follow. Clean grates keep the steak from sticking when you turn them.
To clean, heat your grill, scrub with a heavy-duty grill brush and brush with oil. Not a lot, but a light swab.
Twenty or 30 minutes prior to grilling, remove your steaks from the refrigerator and let sit, uncovered, at room temp. Once your grill is heated, brush steaks lightly with oil and season liberally with salt and pepper, your chosen rub or fresh herb marinade.
The heat is on
Don’t be afraid of the heat! Crank up your grill to at least 450-500 F. Test by holding your hand over the heat. If you can hold it there no longer than a second or two, then it should be good to go.
High heat ensures you get the best sear and crust on your steaks.
Take a turn
Like burgers, there’s ongoing controversy whether to flip once, twice or that it really doesn’t matter.
The bottom line is to make sure you get a good, crispy sear before you flip. After that, it’s really up to you.
You’ll want to avoid pressing down with your spatula or tongs, though, as this will release juices and can make your steaks less juicy.
Touching with your finger is all well and mostly overdone, but try and use a thermometer as well for accuracy. Don’t risk showing off with the touch technique. Use these temps as a loose guide:
- 120°F and below for rare (red/raw in the center)
- 130°F medium-rare (pink, warm)
- 140°F medium (totally pink, starting to dry out)
- 150°F medium-well (grayish pink, more dry)
- 160°F and above for well done (completely gray, very little moisture)
Still, if using the finger technique, softer means the steak is mostly likely more rare and denser to the touch means it is probably more on the well-done side.
It’s never too early to take the steak off. If it’s too rare, then you can always throw it back on the grill. You can also use a timer. 2-3 minutes a side is a good time to stick with.
Give it a rest
Always, always have patience after removing your steaks. I know you’ll want to dig in just like I do when you’ve pulled that perfectly grilled steak off the grill, but trust me.
Let your steak rest on the cutting board or plate for at least five minutes before slicing. You want to let the juices re-circulate throughout the steak, finishing a dab more cooking, as well.
For an exciting flair, add herbed butters, spice rubs or a pair with a side of rich, fragrant cheese.
Twinkle VanWinkle has over 20 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks. She baked apple pies for the “Oprah Winfrey Show” and has appeared on Food Network’s “The Best Of…” Along with producing dynamic lifestyle content for LIN Media, she is a mother, urban gardener, chef, musician and social media fanatic.