Basic steak on the grill


Steve Petrone

TVWBB Diamond Member
It has been a while since I have done a steak on the grill. I used a rub and let it rest while I prepped the charcoal. Used 1/2 Kingsford and 1/2 lump with pecan for extra flavor. The 1 1/2 inch thick strip steaks were seared for 4 to 5 minutes per side then cooked till 135*. Allow to rest 5 minutes.

#1,My charcoal ended up being too hot-I should have spread the coals more and/or allowed them to burn for 15 to 20 minutes to ashe over.
#2 I prefer med rare-should have cooked to about 130*.

How do you all who take pride in your steaks prefer to do it?
I prefer steaks on the thick side, 1.5-inch minimum. I know lots of people like salt and pepper only but I like to rub steaks. Not heavy, but rubbed ne'ertheless.

I like very hot coals, well-ashed but piled high on one side--straight lump, often with walnut or mesquite or oak--and usually sear 4 min/side. I cook lid-on during searing as well as when I move them to indirect. I don't use a therm but cook to rare (poked with a finger); they'll hit just shy of medium-rare after a rest. That's my two cents.
Kevin, I would expect a finger poke to check doneness from you. I suppose those themo pokes are allowing the good stuff to leak out!
This fire was so hot/close that it tended to burn quickly. I should have piled the coals up one one end and spread the coals on the other...
Before my smoking days, I used garlic salt and black pepper. I find myself using rub 'everywhere'.
I'm with you. I'm just too into spices, herbs, and aromatics to forego their use. Yes, I can appreciate that excellent beef needs nothing but salt but, to me, well--I like the added flavor layers too much.

Do you mean when you say "it tended to burn quickly" that the steak burned or was it, perhaps, a component in the rub? Some stuff doesn't take high heat well, and for some paste rub mixes I increase the distance between the meat and the coals.
For what it's worth...

I went from using nothing to using S&P, and now I'm a big fan of using different rubs. I don't have a favorite rub so I'm always trying new ones and like Kevin wrote, I have noticed that some don't handle high heat too well.
After I spread out the Kingsford, I place 3 foil-wrapped baking potatoes and 1 foil-wrapped sweet potato(I'm not too fond of the reg. potatoes)on top of the coals farthest from me.
When it comes time to cook the steaks I sear them on each side for about 2-3 mins. and then moved them over the potaoes to finish them off and if I have something else to cook I start that.
Originally posted by S Petrone:
Kevin, I would expect a finger poke to check doneness from you. I suppose those themo pokes are allowing the good stuff to leak out!

I recall the venerable Kevin Taylor, a/k/a, Stogie, posting that only individual cells are affected by the sticking and therefore very little juice is lost by checking the temp with a probe.

Kevin, you are right about the potential for the rub to burn-could well have been a factor. A low sugar rub would certainly be indicated.

Paul, yep-I remember that too. I just trying to pick at Kevin a little. Raichlen does a good job of describing the touch or poke method of determining doneness in How TO Grill. I have appreciated what an instant read thermo has done for me in terms of knowing whats going on with the meat. It has really helped with chicken and thick boneless pork chops. I have fewer hockey pucks now.
Hi all:

Just wanted to share my experience with one of my favorite meals of all, Steak.

I'd like to offer a few tips, which have helped me to making a great steak.

- I have'nt found a grill steak I like better than a nice Porterhouse/T-Bone

- I don't usually season with anything other than S&P (use kosher salt, it stands up better to the heat), most other spices can overpower, since the quick cooking time does not allow them to mellow

- Season both sides, and what I have found is that one of most important steps is to let the Steak sit out of refrig at least 1 hour(since you're cooking it so quickly, this promotes more even cooking without over-charring exterior) and will make a difference in tenderness

- I have experimented with just about every type of wood and fuel imagineable, and in my opinion, good lump is all you need, because since you are searing the Steak, this seals it quickly, and once it is properly seared, it really won't take on the flavors of any woods (which I really would'nt want anyway, I want my Steak to have maximum beef flavor, accented with a little S&P, and a nice little char)

- Sear each side quickly over the highest possible heat, to seal the surface and lock in the juices.

- I do about 2 minutes per side, real close to the coals about 2 inches (my charcoal grate is adjustable) then I lower it. If yours does not then build a 2 level fire, piled for searing then a lower pile to finish cooking. I like mine M/R also, so I usually go with about another 2 minutes per side.

- And like you guys were saying, never ever pierce with anything, once you've done quite a few, you'll learn to go by feel. Just remember, you are going to finish the Steak with a small rest period, so take that into account. The Steak will continue to cook a little during rest.

- Extremely important is to allow a 5 minute rest, so the juices can redistribute, cutting into it too quickly will run alot of juice out of the meat.

- Now sit down and enjoy!!

Strip Steaks are also excellent done in a cast iron skillet, this way you can make any of a number of different pan sauces, eg. Au Poivre. I put my skillet right on the grill over the hot coals (saves a mess on the stovetop) and make a nice pan sauce using whatever I have or whatever I feel like using.

Hope any of this helps!!

Ron, you reinforce the beauty of the adjustable grate. Maybe one of the engineers will figure a mod....I grew up eating strip steaks. Ithought they were the best. My wife was weaned on ribeyes. I hate to admit it but I am partial to any choice steak on sale. Yea, I am sure the super prime meats are special but I have not gone there. Some dry aged meat at better restaurants are mighty fine too.

I like Strips also, I've just always been partial to a Porterhouse, which is really just a Strip on a bone with a filet mignon on the other side of the bone. So, it's 2 steaks in one
that strikes a perfect balance. And as long as we don't have Company for dinner, I can pick up and gnaw on the bone for a while....YUM!!

Have you tried pan frying them with a nice sauce? so easy and soooooo delicious!!

I like doing strips in my cast iron skillet on the grill. I cook them in a little bit of oil, remove them, toss in a bit of minced shallots, sautee, then put about 1/4 C. of Cognac (careful with it on a hot grill, as flammable as Gasoline), reduce that a tad, and add about 1/2 C. beef broth and 1/2 C. Heavy Cream, reduce a bit and pour over steaks. Absolutely Heavenly Flavor!!! But, play with it create your own sauce, Enjoy!!
give it a try, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how good a pan fried steak can be.

That is kind of a basic Au Poivre recipe, which is French for "with pepper", and like many other recipes, is wide open to interpretation.

Oh, I should have said, that traditionally the steaks are pretty well coated with coarsely crushed black or green peppercorns or a combination. Remove them a little earlier than medium rare and tent with foil. Reduce that sauce by about 1/2, so it thickens.

I hope you'll try it, I'm anxious to hear your thoughts on it.

Me, I'm a rib-eye guy. Dry-aged preferably. And something more than S & P only if I'm grilling them.

Steve-- Low sugar and low sugar item as well, in other words be careful of your fresh garlic and fresh onion or shallot (and the like) inclusions in particular, but even dry stuff (and certainly actual sugar) can caramelize then burn quickly. I often use all or some of the aromatics in some paste rubs but that's one of the times I increase my coal-steak distance a bit for the sear. (And I knew you were picking on me.)

Paul is right (as is Stogie), little juice is lost. But a finger is quicker! Do both and you'll pick up the feel in no time.

Ron-- I do Steak au Poivre several times a year. If you're doing it on a gas burner or in a pan over coals, dump the cognac quickly, pull the pan toward you (still flat on the burner or grate), then tip it away from you by lifting the handle. This puts the alcohol fumes over the heat (and aimed away from you) so they can ignite. Btw, try a blend from Child/Pepin on your next Poivre go-around: Mix equal parts black, white, green, red peppercorns and whole allspice. Crush as usual. Instead of mounting with cream, mount with butter. Quite tasty.

Since you mentioned it I hope you don't mind: Searing does not seal the surface nor lock in the juices. I know that this is thought to be true and is still seen in books (and all over the Net) but it is not the case. Hardly matters, what it does do is valuable: The heat interacts with natural sugars (along with some proteins and some moisture--there is actually a slight loss of juice) to caramelize them which, as you know, adds much in the way of flavor (and texture) to the meat.
Sorry Kevin, just can't agree with all those spices going on my steak, when I eat a nice steak, I want max beef flavor, accentuated and hinted with a little s&p. I'll reserve the spice combos for a roast.

I did not explain the flambe' technique because reducing by boiling will attain the same basic goal. If you're not familiar with it or uncomfortable about doing it, it becomes unnecessary.

The benefit of flambe' is carmelization of the sugars in the cognac, which may become important in more delicate sauces, eg. desserts. However, when poured over a peppercorn crusted steak, the taste difference would not be discernable. The real goal is to deglaze the pan and incorporate the fond into the sauce.

And I sometimes finish my sauce with a little butter on top of the cream, but I could'nt live without the richness of my Heavy Cream.

And, no I don't mind at all. After all that's what discussions are for. When I say seal the surface, carmelization is which I speak of. "locking in juices" is a matter of debate, however I'll never agree that there is not more moisture loss without
quick searing.
I am like some others here, I like a very basic slab of steak. I usually buy the whole top loin strip and cut my own steaks 2+ inches thick. Coat with black papper then start the fire (lump for steaks) total time on the counter about 45 minutes. Right before cooking I add the salt, sear both sides with the PCI grates and then cook slowly over indirect heat. Interneal temp about 125 on the Thermapen. Final product in Med Rare after a 10 minute foiled rest. All this steak talk makes me want to grill me up some meat for breakfast....
Originally posted by Ron Ta:
Sorry Kevin, just can't agree with all those spices going on my steak...

...The benefit of flambe' is carmelization of the sugars in the cognac, which may become important in more delicate sauces...And I sometimes finish my sauce with a little butter on top of the cream,...

"locking in juices" is a matter of debate, however I'll never agree that there is not more moisture loss without
quick searing.

I would not ask you to agree. A rub on a grilled steak is--for me--the 'sauce'. I don't make a sauce for a rubbed, grilled, steak.

I think the caramelization of sugars in the cognac is important for any use, but especially in sauces which do not include sugar, which was why I mentioned it but you're right, it doesn't have to be done.

I'd say the 'locking in the juices' has not been moot for some time; I completely agree that quick searing and fairly quick cooking contribute to a steak being juicy. And an un-seared steak just doesn't have the flavor we all know and love.

And Chris-- I had just finished a nice fruit salad and was about to order an entrecôte with a poached egg when a phone call forced me to leave the restaurant. Hope you had yours!
Just read this thread. Steaks last night with the sons (19, 20). We did ribeyes (or was it NY Strips) out of the freezer, 1.5-2" thick, except for a thin piece off of the end that was cooked about MR for the bride. The steaks were barely warm in the middle. WONDERFUL!!! We seasoned the steaks with a little Lowery's, lots of black pepper and even more garlic. Covered the steaks in a Dale's and Teriyaki (to cut the Dale's) marinade.
The Mallard effect does apply when searing a steak which does cause one to salivate giving the impression of locking in juices but you can't poke or cut the moisture out the meat, you can cook it out.
Vernon, I have had more than a few steaks with that combo, Lawrys,pepper and garlic.

I am pleased to have gotten so many responses from so many who enjoy their steak.