Sunday, July 18, 2010

8 Tips for the Perfect Steak

Summer's in full swing and while anyone can slap a slab of meat on the grill, cooking a steak that really sizzles is no easy task. Make your steak a cut above the rest with these 8 tips for the perfect grilled steak from Ari Rosenson, the executive chef of Wolfgang Puck's restaurant CUT.
1. Light the briquettes at least one hour before you expect to grill. Be patient! Good food takes time. If you grill over direct flames, the heat won't be as intense and consistent, and your food will take on a kerosene taste. Grilling over red-hot coals, on the other hand, allows you to maintain a high temperature for a long time, delivering the seared crust that grilled meat is all about.
2. Season meat at least one hour ahead of cooking with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Proper seasoning is as important as proper cooking technique, and flavors need sufficient time to permeate the meat properly. I recommend using a good-quality sea salt for meat; the high mineral content brings out and brightens the iron flavor in meat that we all crave. Then add some freshly ground black pepper. (The fragrant oils in pepper dissipate if ground ahead of time, resulting in less flavor...and a boring steak.)
3. Allow the meat to come to room temperature before cooking. This will shorten the steak's cooking time and ensure it cooks evenly. If the steak is cold when you start to cook it, it will overcook the outside, drying it out while the inside gets up to the desired temperature.
4. Before you start cooking, make sure you have a gradient of heat. In other words, there should be a high level of hot coals on one side of the grill that gradually goes down to a medium-low level on the other side.
5. Rub your meat with a little oil before you grill. This will prevent it from sticking.
6. Start grilling the food that will take the longest first. You don't just want to throw everything on the grill and have to wait a half-hour for the double-thick porterhouse to finish up while the chicken and fish get cold.
7. Start cooking your meat on high heat (that is, over the highest coals). This will sear in all of its juices and promote browning. Don't move the meat around a lot -- it won't help it cook. Let the grill do the work! Once the meat is seared, move it to medium heat. This will cook the meat evenly without drying it out.
8. Allow the meat to rest for at least 10 minutes after you pull it off the grill. If you cut into the meat right away, the juices will run out and your steak will taste dry. Instead, let the meat relax a little after grilling. Besides locking in all the good juices, this will give you time to get all the sides and sauces on the table before you serve the masterpiece you've just made

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