Hey there, welcome to another installment of our Grilling 101 blogs. This week, I’d like to talk to you about the absolute quintessential barbeque food: steaks.
Steaks are classified as any meat that falls under the category of fast-cooking cuts. This means that the connective tissues that connect the muscle to the bone have mostly dissolved, which allows the food items to cook much quicker than those with more connective tissues, which require long cooking times to properly dissolve. This is because the beef is allowed to age naturally while in storage. On average, steaks come in thicknesses ranging from ¼ inches thick to 2 inches.
Steaks come in two different types: Grilling steaks and Marinating/Simmering steaks. Grilling steaks take less time to cook, and are more often the ones used for barbequing. Notable examples are tenderloin, strip loin, T-bone, and top sirloin. Marinating/Simmering steaks tend to be larger cuts of meat and require longer cooking times. These include flank, round, and sirloin tip. It is possible to grill a Marinating/Simmering steak, but they should only be grilled to medium-rare. Anything longer will result in the meat toughening and become difficult to chew.
Glossary of Steak Cuts
Grill-worthy steaks, and how to serve them.
Boneless cut from the plate and flank. Though it can be tough, the long, flat cut is wonderful when marinated and thinly sliced against the grain.
2. Rib eye
Well-marbled boneless steak cut from the rib. The cut is prized for its rich flavor. Delicious served whole.
Boneless cut from the loin, just in front of the round, near the hip. Rich, meaty, and tasty, but can be a bit tough. Best thinly sliced.
A porterhouse is actually two steaks in one, divided by a bone: The large side is the flavorful New York strip, the small side is the melt-in-your-mouth tenderloin. Great served whole.
5.New York strip
Boneless cut from the upper part of the short loin. Has a beefy flavor and a firm texture. Suited to being served whole or sliced.
From the part of the diaphragm that extends between the last rib and the loin. Has a grainy texture and intense flavor that benefits from a marinade. Slice against the grain.
Popular and expensive cut also known as tenderloin or tournedos. Boneless, tender, and without a lot of visible marbling; to retain the steak’s succulence, grill only until medium-rare.
Long, thin cut from the underbelly. While highly flavorful, the steak can be tough. Marinates nicely; cook until medium-rare, then slice against the grain.
When done up right, there is nothing better than the taste of barbequed steak. A proper steak comes in five varieties, and each one is different depending on the cut and size of the meat. Rare steaks are when the meat has been cooked no longer than 2-8 minutes on both sides, depending on the thickness, and are categorized by being red coloured and very soft and chewy. Medium-rare steaks are primarily pink coloured and feel soft while offering up some resistance when touched. They tend to be cooked at around 4-10 minutes on both sides. Medium steaks are the middle ground; not too soft but also not too thick, with the meat being a mix of pink and brown, and take around 6-12 minutes on both sides. Medium-well steaks have a dark brown surface with slight charring, and usually take around 8-14 minutes to cook on both sides. Finally a Well done steak is brown all the way through, solid to the touch, and takes around 10-12 minutes on both sides to cook.
Because of these varying degrees of doneness, steaks are among both the most rewarding grilling item and the most difficult to pull off properly. Beef is highly susceptible to food-related bacteria and must be stored in an air tight packaging free of any liquids, which can allow bacteria colonies to grow. For this reason, it is also recommended that you don’t take your beef out of refrigeration until you are absolutely ready to cook it.
The size of the steak will also affect how quickly the meat will grill. Larger cuts take a longer time to grill, and should be grilled on medium or low heat depending on the size. High temperatures cause the outside of the steak to finish grilling faster than the interior. Thicker cuts are also less likely to burn due to their slower cooking time. In contrast, smaller steaks should be grilled on higher temperatures to ensure that the interior and exterior are cooked properly.
No matter the thickness of the cut, steaks should be taken off the grill a good 5-10 degrees before doneness, depending on the thickness of the steak. This is because the meat will continue to cook for up to for around five minutes after being removed from the heat source. The juices will retreat back into the meat during this time, which gives you less to clean up when you bite or cut into your food. All too often this is the step overlooked by most grillers, and the final straw that can ruin a perfectly cooked steak. Remember, practice makes perfect, you are best to perfect your steak cooking by undercooking and finishing it either on the top rack or by finishing in the oven. Both of these practices are perfectly fine and are used in restaurants all of the time. Happy Grilling!!!