It seems that there is a pervasive uncertainty about grilling meats at home. I can tell you that my level of confidence when choosing and grilling steaks is not so high.
Since it seems that this is a discussion topic that comes up often when standing around grills in the summertime, I thought it was best to seek advice from a professional.
Chef Kent Rathbun is a 4-time James Beard Award Nominee and Iron Chef Winner, who owns multiple restaurants and is the Ambassador for Lynx Grills. He knows his way around a grill! (see my “Wagyu and Wine” article for more).
I asked him to share some of the basics of choosing and grilling steaks. Below are his words of grilling wisdom.
Karen: What is the difference between choice, certified Angus beef (CAB), and prime beef?
Chef Rathbun: The differences are in the marbling, cost and flavor. Each steak or chop has its own unique flavor and texture characteristics.
Filet mignon and flat iron cuts are leaner choices. If you prefer marbling, a rib eye or strip steak are your best options. I like choice tenderloins. They are a delicious and crowd-pleasing cut.
CAB represents the top 10% of meats in the choice category. CAB is delicious. I don’t think it is necessary to spend the extra money for prime cuts.
Karen: What are some Do’s and Don’ts when grilling steaks?
- Do start the grill in plenty of time to heat it to the proper temperature based on what you are cooking.
- Do bring the meat to room temperature before cooking.
- Don’t cook on a dirty grill. Clean it every time after use and before cooking. Aside from removing bacteria, remember that the flavors build up and impart on all foods you cook on your grill.
- Do brush your grill with a bit of canola, grapeseed or peanut oil before cooking. You can coat your meats or vegetables with the oil as well.
- Do season your food well. Salt is a key component, especially for meats. Consider that some of the seasonings will fall off during cooking, so apply liberally.
- Don’t slice the meat just after cooking. Give the meat 3-4 minutes of resting time off of the heat before slicing. This rest changes the mouthfeel completely because when the meat is hot, it is tense. If cut then, it will push its juices out instead of retaining them.
Karen: How do you char a steak on an outdoor gas grill?
Chef Rathbun: The most common mistake people make when cooking steaks or chops is not having the proper temperature. I use a very hot grill (550 – 750 degrees) for rib eye strips, chops and burgers.
Cooking at the proper temperature is a key factor in achieving uniform charring. Remember that fattier steaks need to be cooked at a higher location on the grill in order to render the fat and crisp it.
It is also essential to have a cooler spot on the grill so the meat can rest after charring it. For example, adjust one burner to low and transfer the meat when cooked. After charring, you want to let the meat roast like it would in an oven until done.
Karen: Is there a brand of grill that you recommend?
Chef Rathbun: As a chef, I have been fortunate enough to work with many brands of equipment but when it comes to outdoor appliances, I find Lynx to be the Porsche of outdoor kitchen products. These versatile grills are made in the USA. They are jewelry that performs. Take a look at this video.