- 1 / 16
Glazed and Suffused
A deeply browned, craggy-caramelized exterior is the holy grail of steak cookery—that’s where all of the mouthwateringly complex flavors live. But the party doesn’t have to stop there! At restaurants like NYC’s Estela and Momofuku Ko, line cooks up the ante by brushing an already-seared piece of meat with a heady glaze while it finishes cooking. As the steak gets flipped and brushed, flipped and brushed, that salty-sticky-sweet lacquer hardens in layers to create an über-savory capital-C Crust, an irresistible ebony layer akin to the bark that’s beloved by barbecue enthusiasts. In this glaze, we incorporated fish sauce, which has a signature piquance that mellows as it caramelizes on the grill, resulting in a nutty complexity similar to the alluring funk of dry-aged beef.
- 2 / 16
Dinner is only as good as the meat you buy, period. Pasture-raised beef from small farms ain’t cheap, but the payoff is huge—and is justifiable when you’re eating less of it. Don’t have access to a top-quality butcher shop? Mail order is your best bet. We’re fans of the American Wagyu sold by Snake River Farms, which provided the steaks you see here.
Get more suggestions for where to order meat online right here!
- 3 / 16
Salt It Like You Mean ItHere at BA, we consider underseasoned steak to be a cardinal offense. A quality steak is ribboned with delicious fat, and the fattier a piece of meat, the more salt it needs. Now is not the time for puny two-finger pinches—make it rain! For thicker cuts we season with flakes of sea salt after slicing too, ensuring that the interior gets the love it deserves.
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- 4 / 16
Steak Sauce Is Back!
Sweet, salty, tart, and goosed with secret sources of umami, steak sauce may be the ideal foil for a sizzling slab of red meat. We took the lead of chef Chris Shepherd, who serves a homemade version at Georgia James, his Houston steak house, and whipped up a signature steak sauce of our own (ingredient breakdown below, clockwise from top). It’s big on flavor, free of weird preservatives, and comes together in about a minute flat. Welcome to the world, BA.1.
Worcestershire Sauce: The secret weapon here, bringing umami-packed anchovies and tart-sweet tamarind to the table.
Hot Sauce: A vinegary hot sauce (like Frank’s or Crystal) adds acidity and just enough tongue-tingling chile heat.
Kosher Salt: And salt, of course, because this is BA, and that sauce isn’t going to season itself.
Balsamic Vinegar: Lends tartness but also a fruity complexity.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: The peppery notes in olive oil offer a distinct kind of heat, with enough fat to help carry the rest of the flavors.
Dijon Mustard: Acts as an emulsifier but also shows up with its own unique brand of nose-clearing horseradish-esque spice.
Honey: A bit of honey delivers sweetness with more oomph and dimension than standard white sugar.
Ketchup: A judicious amount adds body and backs up all the other components.
- 5 / 16
A Cut for All Seasons
We adore every steak in the butcher case—but we might love skirt steak the most. (Don’t tell the rib eye.) Why? It’s supremely beefy, not outrageously expensive, and, maybe best of all, fast-cooking. It can hold its own but isn’t above being tossed into a roll or stuffed in a taco. And it’s always there when we need it.
- 6 / 16
Two Zone or BustWhen we’re grilling we’re setting up a two-zone fire. For charcoal grills that means banking the coals to one side of the grill; for gas grills it means cranking the burners on one side and leaving the others off. This gives us flexibility in terms of cooking temperatures, creating one area for searing and one for gentle cooking but also establishing a safe place to move meat in case of flare-ups.
- 7 / 16
Give It a RestPatience can be hard to come by when you’ve got a sizzling rib eye in front of you, but it’s the highest virtue of steak cooking. Resting meat after grilling is key; it allows juices to redistribute and the internal temperature to even out. Bonus points for resting thicker steaks on a wire rack, which facilitates air circulation and helps preserve that crust.
- 8 / 16
More Surface Area, More Flavor
Crispy bits. Charred edges. Burnt ends. Call them what you will, but they’re inarguably the best part of any piece of grilled meat and inevitably the ones in shortest supply—the choicy bites you sneak when no one is looking. That’s the sheer brilliance of the boneless short rib served at Cote, NYC’s tony Korean steak house. By making deep slashes all along both sides of the meat before marinating and grilling—imagine a Hasselback potato—chef David Shim creates a whole new world of surface area, creating enough crunchy, crusty morsels to keep the whole table happy.
- 9 / 16
Flavor By a Thousand Cuts
Scoring the steaks for this ingenious recipe isn’t difficult, but it does require a smidge of finesse. Sharpen your chef’s knife and follow along from left to right.
1. Position short rib in center of cutting board so that it is at a 45-degree angle to bottom of the board. And really: Make sure that knife is sharp!
2. Orient knife so that it is at a 90-degree angle to bottom of the board and score every ¼". Take care not to cut more than halfway through meat.
3. Flip steak over into the same position and repeat with other side; if you could see through the meat, the cuts would form a diamond pattern.
- 10 / 16
Pork Is Steak Too
Not only is our new go-to steak the most affordable one in the case—it also doesn’t come from a cow at all. If you’re not on the porkshoulder-steak train already, now’s the time to hop aboard. Inspired by chefs like Patch Troffer, formerly of Brooklyn’s Marlow & Sons, we’ve been skipping the slow-roast and treating slabs of gorgeously marbled pork shoulder the way we would a New York strip—by simply searing it to a juicy medium-rare. More flavorful than a pork chop, more sustainable than a beef steak, and easier on the wallet than either, this one’s our new summer grilling MVP.
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- 11 / 16
What to Ask ForDon’t see pork shoulder steaks at the store? Fear not: They’re there, we swear, they just might not be cut yet. Politely ask the butcher to take an even, compact hunk of Boston butt and slice it against the grain into into ¾"- to 1"-thick slabs. Ta-da—pork steaks! Or if you like: Take one home and do it yourself (it’s exactly as easy as it sounds).
- 12 / 16
Coconut and Lemongrass Steak SkewersAt Laser Wolf, an Israeli-style “skewer house” in Philly, chef Andrew Henshaw grills heavily marinated cubes of well-marbled steak until the exteriors are charred and the insides are still juicy. The technique’s advantages are clear: more surface area, more caramelization, an astonishingly quick cook time, and tidy pieces that are easy to share. Creamy, almost-but-not-sweet coconut milk will help tenderize and flavor humbler cuts like hanger, flatiron, and flap. See recipe.
- 13 / 16
15 Ways to Make Your Fresh-Off-the-Grill Steak Even Better
1. Metal Is Forever: Unlike wooden skewers, sturdy metal ones can be reused indefinitely and never catch fire. We like the simple 10" stainless-steel ones from webstaurantstore.com (12 for $3).
2. Fan the Flames: To ensure your meat is charred on the outside and still blushing within, you want to get your skewers on and off the grill in as little time as possible, so higher heat is a must. If you’ve got a mixed-grill, get the skewers on first while the coals still have plenty of juice.
3. Right Cut: Tender, wellmarbled cuts of steak are best for skewering. Stick with affordable ones like hangar, flatiron, and flap
4. Sweeten the Deal: When you’re dealing with quick-cooking pieces of meat, a marinade with a bit of sweetness in it helps to jump-start caramelization.
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- 14 / 16
When it comes to getting a killer sear on a piece of meat, our advice is usually straightforward: Get it over high heat and don’t mess with it until you’ve got the color you’re after. But that doesn’t fly when it comes to trickier cuts like the porterhouse, which is actually two totally different steaks—beefy, well-marbled New York strip and delicate, lean tenderloin—separated by a hefty T-shaped bone. Getting the interior of the whole thing to a blushing, consistent mediumrare is a feat, one that chef Christina Lecki, formerly of Brooklyn’s Reynard, accomplishes by bucking conventional wisdom and keeping the steak in near perpetual motion while it’s on the grill. Constantly repositioning the meat relative to the fire ensures that the strip side gets most of the heat while the tenderloin stays protected, and the plattered steak looks like a marvelous meaty magic trick.
- 15 / 16
The Anatomy of a Steak
Can’t tell a porterhouse from a T-bone? A porterhouse comes from the back portion of the short loin, and a T-bone from the front, so the former has a larger piece of tenderloin than the latter. The porterhouse is a cut as complex as it is iconic, and understanding it is half the battle. Let’s break it down.
The Bone: That T-shaped bone in the middle protects two sides of each steak from direct heat, and the meat closest to it will tend to be more rare than the rest.
The Tenderloin: No cut on the cow is as lean, tender, and mild as the tenderloin—nor more unappealing when cooked past medium. Coddling it is essential to porterhouse success.
The Strip: Evenly marbled and flavorful, with a smidge of chew, the strip portion of the porterhouse is the most substantial and demands the lion’s share of the heat when cooking.
- 16 / 16
Age Aint Nothing But a NumberVirtually all meat has been aged to some extent before you buy it, a process by which naturally occurring enzymes break down and tenderize the proteins in meat. This can happen a couple of ways. You’ve probably heard of dry-aging, in which meat sits uncovered in a controlled environment. The meat loses water weight as it hangs out, concentrating flavor and gaining a mineral-y twang. While rarely advertised as such, meat can also be wet-aged, or simply sealed in plastic and refrigerated. That tenderizing activity still occurs, but the flavor and water content remain the same. Sometimes we crave the dense flavor and signature funk of a dry-aged steak, but it’s not inherently better. In fact, for recipes where we’re adding layers of big flavor, we prefer the consistency and less-aggressive flavor of wet-aged.
What’s more delicious than an expertly charred steak? How about that same steak glazed to an impossibly savory shine or strategically scored to produce untold quantities of crispy bits? Yeah, sounds better to us too. Welcome to Steak 2.0.
Originally Appeared on Bon Appétit