How to Cook the Best Steak Ever

(Today, Marie shares some ideas for the next time that you grill.)

We don’t eat a lot of steak, so when we do I want it to be really good. Some years ago, my brother won a really nice grill in a raffle but couldn’t keep it due to rules at his apartment complex, so we got it. And somewhere along the line, while looking for ideas on how to make that grill do its duty, I found this story at Steamy Kitchen.

Essentially, using this technique made me an instant expert steak griller overnight. I’m not kidding. I’d done okay to meh before, but every. single. steak. since (even the one I accidentally allowed to overcook to medium well) was tender and delicious! I cannot emphasize how much of a difference this made.

In short, you cover the meat with salt and wait for an hour per inch of meat (half an hour for 1/2 inch thick steak, two hours for 2-inch thick steak, etc.), then slap that puppy on the grill and enjoy. I had two premium varieties of non-iodized salt on hand, Himalayan pink salt and Hawaiian black salt, so I covered two with each kind just to see what would happen (there was a barely detectable difference, so apparently the rule is to go with what you have on hand). Make sure you are NOT using regular iodized salt from a shaker or a can. First of all, this a job for good-quality stuff, and second, the iodine doesn’t play well with flavor in this process. An absolutely vital part of the process is rinsing off the salt and then patting down each piece of meat very thoroughly to dry it out completely.

Add other flavors to the meat by putting the pepper, herbs, garlic or whatever else you choose to use onto the meat under the layer of salt. You can add them afterward too, but read the labels – if your seasoning has salt in it, put that back in the cupboard and use something else. The meat is already salted and you should not add more.

The other thing that I started using at the same time which has made all the difference in getting a steak done to the right level of doneness each time is the thumb test. I love this because grills are temperamental, heat up less predictably than ovens, etc. and this lets me check for doneness without the delay of a thermometer. It’s much faster just to press a (clean) finger on the meat and tell immediately how it’s doing than poke something into the meat, letting out vital juices, and wait for a reading. This is especially useful if your group or family wants different doneness levels.

What you do is compare the give in the meat to how the base of your thumb feels when you press it against a target finger. Put your thumb together with each finger in turn, forefinger to pinky, and touch the pad at the base of your thumb for resistance with each one to give you a gauge for comparison. Index is rare, middle is medium rare, and so forth; if you need a visual check this link. This, in combination with a chart for number of minutes per side per inch for an idea of when to open the grill cover to check, works very well.

This may not be the best time for a post more designed for grilling season, though with the mildness of the weather this winter I am a good bit more willing to go outside to cook. Both techniques work for broiling too, though it’s harder to use the touch test in an oven safely – make sure you don’t test too often and let out all the heat, but don’t rush and brush your hand on anything hot either. The meat is not hot enough to burn you. Let us know if and when you do try this out and tell us how it worked for you!

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