Why is it that a steak from a restaurant just seems to taste better than what you make at home? Often, it’s because the chefs in the restaurant know the secrets of great grilling.
“Steak is a summer staple for many home cooks when the weather permits, but things can go awry if you’re not clued in to the secrets of how to prepare a great steak,” says John Li, senior vice president of research and development for Outback Steakhouse. “As veritable steak experts, and with summer grilling season upon us, we want to help people preparing to try their hands at grilling steak.
Li offers some advice for grilling successful steak meals this summer:
* Start with the right steak. Build a relationship with your local butcher – either at your grocery store or, if you’re lucky enough to have one in your neighborhood, the area butcher shop. Learn where they source their meat, if it’s aged and for how long. Many cuts lend themselves to grilling, but sirloin, filet, strip and rib eye remain the most popular. Sirloin and strip steak are usually the best options if you’re feeding a large group, as they provide abundant flavor and are usually less expensive than other cuts.
* Prep the grill properly. Once you’ve got the right meat, ensure your grill is ready to cook it to perfection. Start with a well-cleaned grill and preheat it. If you’re using a charcoal grill, wait until the coals are white. For gas grills, use a thermometer. Many newer models have built-in gauges on the lids that indicate when the grill is hot enough to use.
* Add some seasoning. While the grill is preheating, prep the steak by patting it dry. Removing moisture allows for optimum surface contact with the grill and creates a wonderful seared flavor. Rub with the seasoning of your choice; there are many, but keep in mind simple salt and pepper works well if you’re starting with an already flavorful cut.
* Get grilling. Once the grill and steak are ready, place the meat on the grill. You can achieve a fancy diamond-shaped grill pattern by rotating the meat 45 degrees when you turn it, but the meat will taste just as good without it. Cooking time will vary depending on the cut of meat and the grill itself. Generally, thinner steaks (about 1 inch thick) will need about four minutes per side to be rare, five for medium and seven for well done. Thicker steaks (2 inches or more) will need about six minutes per side for rare, eight to 10 for medium and 12 for well done.
* Let it rest. Overcooking is a sure-fire way to dry out steak. As soon as the steak has reached your desired level of wellness, remove it from the grill and let it rest for about five minutes before you serve or cut it. This allows the juices to set well in the meat before you dig in.
Not sure where to start? Try this recipe from Outback Steakhouse:
4 rib eye steaks, 12 to 14 ounces each
4 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Evenly season each steak with a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Coat each steak with a half tablespoon of vegetable oil. This may be done up to three hours prior to grilling, storing in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before grilling.
Start the grill. Place seasoned steaks over the hottest portion of the grill and cook on the first side about four to five minutes, rotating 90 degrees after three minutes to achieve restaurant-style “cross marks.” Turn steaks over and cook for an additional three to four minutes to achieve a medium-rare doneness. Remove from grill and allow to rest for five minutes before topping and serving.
Of course, even in summer there are times when you just won’t feel like cooking your own steak. Whether it’s a special night out, a family celebration or you’re just in the mood to sink your teeth into something you didn’t have to cook and won’t have to clean up afterward, restaurant steaks are still a good option. At Outback Steakhouse, for example, guests can enjoy a variety of cuts and preparations that allow for a custom experience, without any of the hassle.