How to Grill the Perfect Thick Steak

Grilling the perfect steak takes attention to detail and most importantly, the right piece of meat. To ensure a great barbeque, go with a thick cut steak. Though a thin steak might seem like an easier portion to work with, the end result will be an overcooked steak resembling jerky, a real embarrassment on the grill. Choose instead a nice thick cut piece of meat, for a seared exterior and a juicy, rare-to-medium-rare interior. When choosing your meat, go for a USDA Organic and Grass Fed steak, or American Style Kobe Beef from the American BBQ Company, a perfect choice for any grill.

Another easy indicator of a great piece of meat is the marbling – as grilling officionado “Joshua Bousel” of Serious Eats explains: “marbling is made up of intramuscular fat, and you’re certain to see more of it in the strip loin over the tenderloin, but both should have streaks of beautiful white fat in them. This fat is what brings the big, beefy flavor to the T-bone, and you won’t get that top steakhouse flavor without it. You should always do a visual inspection to best determine the marbling, but in terms of USDA beef grades, Prime is the label to look for. ‘Choice’ is the next step down in marbling, followed by ‘Select.’ (Bousel).

Once you’ve got your perfect piece of steak, it’s time to fire up the grill. Though there are always a million different ways to prepare some barbeque, it’s important to remember that every man’s grill is his domain. Here’s an easy step-by-step guide to grilling the perfect thick cut steak, as outlined by grill master Steven Raichlen of the Huffingotn Post:

  • It’s best to use a “combo grilling method” first lighting the grill using charcoal (Raichlen). Then, create three different, separate zones of charcoal within the same grill using your tongs, spatula, grill fork, or any other grilling equipment you have on hand. Split the charcoal into three piles – placing one charcoal pile in the center of the grill, the second charcoal pile on the right side of the grill, and the last charcoal pile on the left side of the grill. Accordign to Raichlen, make sure to leave the area nearest the cook free of all coals. Make sure to place the grill grate back on top when you are finished arranging your three coal piles.
  • Use a combo grilling method for a combo steak: If cooking over charcoal (and I hope you are), set up a three-zone fire. Dump a chimney of lit coals into the grill. With a grill hoe or garden hoe, spread the coals into a double layer at the far side and a single layer in the center. Leave the section closest to you coal-free. Replace the grill grate. If using a gas grill, set it up for three-zone grilling.
  • It’s imperative to keep the grill area hot, well cleaned and organized and “well lubricated” (Raichlen). This will be a continuous process as you grill, so keep a firm attention to your grill. Keeping the grate clean will be important, especially when coating the grill with vegetable oil using pieces of paper towels or a smaller fire chain baster, or as a better option – a piece of fat, to keep your American Style Kobe steak from sticking to the grill and leaving those beautiful grill marks – the sign of a great steak, and a great grill master!
  • Keep it hot, keep it clean, keep it lubricated: When the grill grate is hot, clean it with a grill brush, then lubricate it with a grill oiler or a folded paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. Tip: You can also impale a chunk of beef fat on a fork and run it over the bars of the grill grate
  • Don’t be shy with the seasoning, your guests and taste buds will thank you for it. Make sure you coat both sides of your meat – generously. Sprinkle coarse sea salt, kosher salt, or ground black pepper – keep it simple, the great quality of your American Style Kobe Beef from the American BBQ Company will speak for itself. Make sure you season away from the grill when coating your steak – and according to Raichlen, make sure to hold your hand at least “10 inches above the meat” to ensure even distribution across both sides (Raichlen). Season before you grill, to ensure that the favors have a chance to coat your steak before placing on the heat.
  • Season like you mean it: Place the steak(s) on a rimmed baking sheet and season generously—and I mean generously—on both sides with coarse sea salt (like Maldon) or kosher salt and coarsely ground or cracked black pepper. Tip: Hold your hand at least 10 inches above the meat when seasoning for more even distribution. Season steaks just before grilling.
  • Don’t be afraid to sear your steak on the grill. Place the meat diagonally on the grill grate, over the hottest part of the fire – using the double layer of coals you created in Step 1 as the epicenter of heat. This will help ensure a nice sear on the bottom of your thick, well seasoned steak. Don’t leaef it for too long, according to Raichlen, you’re looking for a “deep brown color,” not a “blackened char” (Raichlen). When the bottom of your steak has been nicely seared in the hottest part of the grill, you can move it to a medium heat area. Make sure you turn the steak slightly, so you can achieve those illustrious crosshatch grill marks. Once this has been accomplished, you should see “beads of blood on the top of the steak” (Raichlen). Take this as a sign that the steak needs to be turned over and grilled on the other side. Once again place the steak on hottest part of the grill, over your double layers of charcoal, and grill. Wait for the same deep brown color and then move the steak slightly for the same crosshatch pattern on the other side. Then move the steak to the part of the grill with a lower heat temperature. If there are any issues with flame ups, simply pick up the meat with your grill tongs and move the meat to a part of the grill that does not have the same high temperatures until the flame ups stop.
  • Sear fearlessly: Place the steak on a diagonal directly on the grill grate over the hottest part of the fire (the double layer of coals) to sear the bottom. You’re looking for a deep brown color on the outside of the meat—not blackened char. Next, move the steak over the medium zone, giving it a quarter turn if you like a crosshatch of grill marks. Grill until you start to see beads of blood on the top of the meat. Now invert the steak, place it back over the hottest part of the fire and sear the other side the same way. Once it’s browned, move the steak over the moderate part of the fire, giving it a quarter turn, and finish cooking it. If you get flare-ups, move the meat to the safety zone until the flames die down.
  • The next step is to “Go Vertical” (Raichlen). For these 2” of more thick American Style Kobe steaks, or the Premium Natural Angus Beef, USDA Organic, and American BBQ Company Grass Fed steaks, sear the meat as described in Step 4, then “upend the steak so it rests on the flat T-Bone” (Raichlen). The steak should now be tilted on its side on the grill. The T-bone in the steak will help move the heat throughout the meat. It is important to check the height of the steak before placing the lid on the grill. You want to make sure the steak can stand up by itself but also not stop the lid from resting comfortably on the grill itself. In the instance that your steak does not stand up straight in the grill by itself, simply place the steak between two firebricks as holders.
  • Go vertical: For really thick steaks (2 inches or more), sear as described above, then upend the steak so it rests on the flat T-bone. (Imagine you’re raising a flagpole.) Grill it in this vertical position until you reach the desired temperature (see below). The T-bone will conduct the heat through the meat. Tip: Make sure you have enough clearance between the grill grate and the grill lid before standing the steak upright. If your steak won’t stand up straight by itself, prop it between two firebricks
  • The last, and most important step, is to let your steak sit before cutting into it. Though this may seem like a “chef suggested” step, it is imperative in the perfect steak process. When you cook your steak, the water comes out of the cell, and cutting it immediately after grilling will simply drain all the juice from the meat, and onto your plate. Not good. Make sure you let it sit for at least five minutes before cutting into the steak.
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