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
Courtesy of MARTHA STEWART LIVING, JUNE 2006
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!!!
Hey everyone, and welcome to the fourth installment in our Grilling 101 series. Seeing as how we’ve already covered most of the basics of grilling, as well as several common misconceptions about the craft, I figured that today would be a good time to talk about some of the essential tools to always have whenever you’re planning to work a grill. Many of these tools might be commonly known to you, but in many cases people aren’t using the right tool for the right job.
Tongs: THE most important piece of equipment that you will need, tongs allow you to work with food without bringing their hands too close to the heat source. Tongs are essentially an extension of your own hands; choose long-stemmed that feel comfortable and are easy to flip food. You need to have a couple of pairs of tongs with you at any given time (or at least be sure to be washing them frequently during BBQ) as you need a pair of tongs to use on raw food product (especially if chicken is being cooked) and one for cooked product. This will reduce any chance of cross-contamination and assure that you are following the best safety precautions. It is simply a good habit to have a pair of tongs for each individual job that you have on the go on your grill at any given time.
Spatula: Used to lift food off of grills and to prevent sticking. Choose a spatula that has sharp edges and enables you to easily get under the food that you wish to turn. I have a variety of spatulas in my kit and choose based on the size of the product in need of flipping. You will require a wide spatula (I often use two) when grilling fish or any other larger delicate items.
Brushes: You will need; a basting brush to baste product during cooking or to apply sauce to your food before finishing – I prefer silicone to synthetic as they are less likely to leave traces in the food when basting. Silicone is also much easier for cleaning, as it can do directly into the dishwasher, rather than the long drawn out cleaning process for natural / synthetic bristle brushes. You will also require a grill brush to clean of the grates of your grill before and after grilling. As previously mentioned, cleaning your grill will eliminate many of the problems of the food sticking and you will reduce the risk of flare-ups. I use a solid metal cleaning tool, rather than a wire bristle brush for cleaning my grill when hot and a synthetic bristled brush for cleaning my cool grill prior to heating. If you use a wire bristled BBQ brush for cleaning, please be sure to replace the brush when the bristles begin to ware down. You certainly don’t want any of the wire bristles getting into any of your beautifully grilled food now. do you?
Instant Read Thermometer: This simple tool is the one that is least used by most backyard BBQ enthusiasts. It allows you to determine the internal temperature of the food and takes the guessing away from determining whether or not you food is properly finished cooking and ready for eating. To get the most accurate reading, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and avoid touching bone (which conducts heat and will give an inaccurate temperature reading).
Mitts/Gloves: Worn on a chef’s hands to protect them from heat, which allows them to interact with food much closer to the heat source. Many people like to use oven mitts for this purpose, but I find them too cumbersome – instead, I’ve replaced my oven mitts, both at home and at the shop, with Pit Mitts that give me both dexterity and protection from heat whenever I’m cooking.
Some of the most important tools for your personal toolkit can be found in your spice rack, pantry and refrigerator, as it is here that you are going to be finding the ingredients that you are going to use to flavouring your creations. The most common flavouring methods are dry-rubbing, marinating and saucing.
A dry-rub is a combination of dried herbs and spices crushed together and applied to the meat prior to cooking. The rub creates a flavour packed outer layer (crust or bark) on the meat and although it is called a rub, it’s best applied by sprinkling over meat or by rolling meat into the mixture after being slightly oiled to ensure that the rub adheres to the meat and the oil reduces potential for sticking to the grates.
Marinades are blend of oil, acid and herbs used to infuse flavour and tenderize meat before grilling. They can be simple or complex, the choice is yours. Many people use beer, wine, lemon, lime, cider vinegar, rice vinegar or any other acid as the base of the marinade to help break down and tenderize the meat. From here there are numerous combinations that you can come up with to make your marinade work (herbs, spices, honey, teriyaki, soy, sugar, etc.). This is your chance to play around with flavour profiling to give your food that special signature that makes it yours.
Everyone is familiar with BBQ Sauce, no doubt we’ve all got a number of them in our fridge / pantry at the moment. BBQ sauce is the quickest and easiest way to apply flavour to our meat while grilling. The key is to apply the sauce at the end of the cooking process (or after the food has been removed from the grill altogether and tossed in a bowl like you do with chicken wings). The reason for the late application of the sauce is simple – the sugars caramelize on the grill; if you sauce too soon, the sauce ends up burning. Sauce at the end or off of the grill completely, you get the flavour of the sauce infused to your finished product.
As with everything, practice makes perfect. I hope that you’ve been applying some of the information that you’ve been getting from the BBQ101 blogs and have been perfecting your grilling this spring. You will be well on your way to mastering the art of grilling.
Back by popular demand – Fire Wire Chicken. This Asian inspired marinated chicken is melt in your mouth goodness. Available this week for $10 per lb or pick up a Family Sized order consisting of two pounds of chicken, grilled vegetables, basmatti rice and buns for $35.00 – this fan favourite is sure to sell out fast. Please place your order online on the Take Away Friday tab by 2 pm Thursday to guarantee your Friday pick up.
Hawley Crescent is pleased to announce that we are adding Pulled Chicken to our menu. Grilled to perfection, we then pull and sauce the chicken for melt in your mouth goodness. Available as sandwiches ($6.00), in 1.5 lb vacpacks ($15.00) and family meals to go ($40) they are sure to become a fan favourite.
Stop by 105 Consumers Drive, Whitby (in the Durham Corporate Centre) and grab yourself a delicious, healthy and convenient meal that is sure to have you wanting more!
Howdy folks. over the past two weeks we’ve touched on some basic grilling techniques and have added a couple of recipes to help develop them. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new techniques in order to hone your skills. Practice makes perfect and sometimes the best results come from mistakes…
This week, I thought that I’d answer some of the most FAQ that I’ve received over the years. I’m hoping that they’ll clear up any misconceptions or doubts you might be having, as well as reinforce some general ideas about your grilling. So let’s do this…
Q – Do I need to clean the cooking grates every time I use the grill?
Yes, you should clean your grill each and every time to remove any residue left on the grates which could cause your food to stick. Food releases much easier from clean grates, which will also lead to more impressive grill marks on the finished product. You don’t have to do a deep clean of the rest of your grill each and every time that you use it, but you should do a thorough detailing once a month.
Q – Do I need to oil the cooking grates before grilling?
This is an interesting question. I’ve often seen TV grillers tell us to use a paper towel soaked in olive oil on the grates before cooking, which is fine (so to speak) but the oil will drip through and may cause flare-ups on both charcoal and gas grills. I prefer to oil the food (add a little oil to the product during seasoning) prior to grilling. Oiling the food helps it to release more easily as well as reducing the amount of oil wasted on the grates.
Q – When should I grill with the lid on?
You should grill with the lid on as often as possible. Closing the lid helps to keep and distribute the heat evenly, cooking both the top and bottom of the food simultaneously. The bottom of the food always gets more intense heat because of the flame, but the lid helps to reflect and circulate hot air to the top. Remember, our grill is basically an oven with an open flame. We keep the oven door closed throughout cooking, so try to do the same with our BBQ. Also, remember that foods tend to dry out with the lid open.
Q – How do I know when my meat is fully cooked?
The best way to determine if your meat is fully cooked is to insert a thermometer into it. Bacteria thrive and survive in temperatures between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Farenheit (4 and 75 degrees Celsius) we have to ensure that the internal temperature of our meats exceed 145 degrees Farenheit to ensure that the meat has been fully cooked. That is the basic, however people want meats done to varying degrees of doneness (especially when it comes to beef)
As with anything else, experience will enable you to have a greater knowledge and understanding regarding the doneness of your meat. You will get to know the amount of grilling time required to properly cook your food and remember, turn your heat down after grilling the presentation side. You may need to cook food indirectly for part of the cooking process to ensure that you don’t overcook your meal. In the event that you have overcooked / burned the meat, you can try to salvage by placing into a pan of liquid and indirectly cooking for an additional 10 minutes in hopes that the liquid will work into the overcooked meat and help to infuse moisture back into it. In my opinion, undercooking beats overcooking – you can always throw it back onto the grill to finish (similar to seasoning your food – you can always add, but you can never subtract).
With summer quickly approaching, let’s grill some tomatoes
Health Benefits of Tomatoes
- Tomatoes contain vitamin C, which can help fight off cancer.
- Vitamin C also helps keep skin looking healthy.
- Tomatoes have high fiber, which is good for people with diabetes.
- Consuming tomatoes can help reduce a person’s blood pressure.
recipe provided by myrecipes.com
Grilled Tomatoes with Basil Vinaigrette
- Ingredients: 3 yellow tomatoes.
- 3 red tomatoes.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided.
- 1/4 teaspoon salt.
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar.
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil.
- Garnish: fresh basil sprigs.
- Cut tomatoes in half; thread onto skewers, alternating between colors.
- Brush tomatoes with 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Grill, covered with grill lid, over medium heat (300° to 350° Fahrenheit) for 10 minutes, turning skewers often.
- Combine remaining 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar, and basil; drizzle over kabobs. Garnish to finish.
- Makes 6 servings.
Until next week, Happy Grilling!