Chef Michael Vignola of Strip House Midtown in New York City knows his way around a steak. Today he shares his top eight steak grilling tips with Epicurious. Grab a ribeye and get grilling!
1. Make it Thick and Marbled: "The best steaks for home grilling are nature’s perfectly marbled beef ribeye steaks or bone-in ribeye steaks — often called cowboy steaks. The marbling enhances the flavor of these cuts while basting the meat in the cooking process to ensure a juicy steak. When selecting your steaks, try to get one that is at least a 1 to 1 1/2-inches thick. The thickness will help in achieving that bullseye-red center. I prefer buying a larger thicker cut steak and carving for my friends and family."
2. Choose Bone-in: “It’s better to cook with meat on the bone because the bone absorbs some of the heat and distributes the temperature throughout producing more evenly cooked steaks. At Strip House, we like to serve aged meat primarily on the bone because it really holds in the flavor, minerality, and natural umami of the meat.”
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3. Oil it: “Use a canola and olive oil blended oil to coat the steak before seasoning it. Either an 80/20 or 90/10 blended oil will get the job done. Be sure to lightly coat the steak. The oil will allow the surface temperature to get seared fast, ensuring a juicier final product as well as greatly aiding the charring of the meat’s surfaces. Save your expensive olive oils for salads where their subtle flavors will shine brightest.”
4. Season Simply: “A well-marbled steak needs only coarsely ground black pepper and kosher salt to bring out its natural flavor. It really is a case of the sum being greater than the parts. Be sure to season a bit more than you might normally season a sautéed item. Some of the steak’s seasoning will be lost in the grilling process. You want to be sure to have enough on the steak to get the job done.”
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5. Don’t Spare the BTUs: “It is all about heat. High heat sears the cooking surface of the meat, ensuring a juicier steak, and allows the charring to happen. With high heat, one can get a nicely charred rare steak. A little flame is your friend; a lot of flame is a definite concern. Keep two sides of the grill hot and move the steak to the second hot spot if the first grilling area is aggressively flaming up. Dousing with water is a last resort; you want to keep the grill as hot as possible. But if it’s between the house going up and a well charred steak, I’d give a nod to keeping the house intact.”
6. Don’t Flip Out: “Don’t drag the steak over the grill when turning. Once you have started the steak on the hot spot leave it be, allow it the meat to sear evenly and produce a beautiful char. Once the meat is charred, pick it up and flip it onto the cooler spot of your grill. Flipping the steak too often can sabotage the charring of the meat and eliminate most of the seasoning on the steak. Pick it up in one motion and place it back with the same motion.”
7. Rest and Relax: “Once you have achieved the desired temperature, remove the steak from the heat and allow it to rest for at least 5 minutes on a grate or cooling rack over a pan before slicing it. You want to make sure there is air all around the steak to stop the cooking process. The internal juices will redistribute throughout the steak and the steak will relax and become tender. Cutting too soon will allow the juices to spill out, turning a medium rare steak into a medium plus steak. I have done this and I was sad.”
8. Good News/Bad News: “The Good News: After the steak has rested, return it to the grill for about 30 seconds on each side just before serving to get a surface sizzle going. A little sprinkle of a grey sea salt on the steak allows for a gentle and focused re-seasoning of the steak. The Bad News: People will make you do all the grilling from now on.”