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Apr 7, 2014 06:38 PM

Proper grilling technique for steaks

What I've been doing is closing the lid and leaving the flame on high. Should I leave the lid up and turn the flame down to conserve gas?

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  1. What kind of steak? A lot depends on the cut and size.

    Generally, no, you do not have to close the lid.

    14 Replies
      1. re: mucho gordo

        Oh yum.

        Cook on med high flame. Turn once.
        You can check doneness by touch or temp depending on how you like the steak cooked.
        You can leave the lid open.

        1. re: monavano

          AHA! I can use med high flame? I've been using hi. I also think I waste a lot of gas waiting for the grill to reach 700-800 degrees before I put the steaks on. Tanks don't seem to last very long.

          1. re: mucho gordo

            You are closing the lid while pre-heating, right?

            1. re: mucho gordo

              High heat can be fine for steaks. In some cases it's better. Thicker steaks need lower heat than thinner ones. Depends somewhat on the grill too - they vary. Flipping more often than once is also fine as long as the steak releases easily. It results in more even doneness, though at the expense of grill marks in some cases.

          2. re: mucho gordo

            It depends on how thick they are, if they're conventional or grass fed and how much char you want and how much of the interior you want pink and juicy.

            For thick ribeyes, I sear on high, always have the lid closed, then move them to indirect (a section of the grill with no flame) medium heat to finish. Rest for several minutes, then eat and enjoy.

            1. re: mcf

              Do grass finished cook faster?

              I know dry aged feedlot cooks a whole lot faster than wet aged.

              I have a whole strip in the downstairs refrigerator in its 3rd week of dry aging. Will yield 12 nice thick strips. Will be getting into that this weekend. Can't wait!

              1. re: Tom34

                Grass fed needs lower/slower grilling to be at it's best. It does seem to overcook more easily.

              2. re: mcf

                I just learned something, mcf. I always have the lid closed but I've never moved the steaks to indirect heat to finish. That's probably why the meat is still raw when I take them off after charring.

                1. re: mucho gordo

                  I only do high direct heat long enough to sear each side, and because my Weber gas grill gets very hot, it's only up to 2 minutes a side at most. It continues to get darker and crustier during the slower cooking over indirect, but not burnt while still raw in the middle.

                  1. re: mcf

                    That's what I just learned here; use indirect heat after searing. It'll also save gas if I don't turn the 4th burner on.

                    1. re: mucho gordo

                      You may not need the third, either, depending on how powerful they are. I am often able to use just one or two of three once the grill is heated up.

                    2. re: mcf

                      The last chuck-eye "steak" (thick enough to qualify as a roast) I grilled on our Weber, I seared for 10 minutes on 2 sides, and 5 each on the other 2 sides -- yes, *that* thick.

                      Finished with closed lid on indirect heat for another 10.

                      Came out perfectly charred on the outside and MR on the inside.

                      I realize this sounds like a long time, but it's a 1.5 lb. hunka meat.

            2. Im no chef but I wanted to be ;-) I used to work in a kitchen and the way i was taught was to grill the steak on one side without touching it until you see red juices float on the top, (this should only take a few minutes) then to turn it over for another few minutes. This is for medium rare. If you want it medium well or well done, then obviously cook it for longer on both sides. Always go by touch as well to press in the center of the steak to feel how cooked it is and never cut it in half!, dont press the steak down with your tongs to feel if the steak is cooked either as its not accurate. No need to cover with a lid but i know that my husband does this on the bbq and he cooks perfect steaks. Its completely up to you i guess and whatever works for you.

              1. depends on:
                1) the steak;
                2) the grill;
                3) the level of sear you want;
                4) the doneness;
                5) the price of gas;

                if you want sear, full throttle on the grill with the lid open to promote evaporation of sear fighting moisture

                get yourself an thermopen to accurately and instantly check the internal temp

                1. My $.02, preheat grill. Dry steak with paper towel. Sprinkle kosher salt. Get cast iron (cast iron ideal but any heavy pan) very hot. Little olive oil in pan and immediately place salted side steak down. It will smoke. As soon as caramelized brown, NOT BLACK, turn (about 1-2 min). Then finish on grill. Sooo perfect! Enjoy.

                  1. I use lump charcoal in a big green egg but the principle is the same. Quick sear/browning over intense heat followed by lower temp finish. Same can be done in reverse. (reverse sear)

                    Quick sear requires dry surface. To dry the surface, place steaks on a bakers cooling rack over a sheet pan and place in the refrigerator uncovered 24 hrs prior to cook. You can also season during this time.

                    To sear, open or closed grill will work if the steak surface is dry. Quick sear on both sides, turn down the burners and roast until done hitting each side equally with the lower heat.

                    Same principle with a cast iron pan

                    18 Replies
                    1. re: Tom34

                      You can season but WITHOUT salt. Salt will draw out moisture if it sits on steak for a prolonged period, effectively making it tougher.

                      1. re: LVI

                        Not true at all.

                        I *always* salt my steak about an hour or so before I grill it, sometimes even longer.

                        Tender as the night.

                        1. re: LVI

                          That was the old standby theory but I think some tests have shown otherwise. Serious eats tested all different salt times from just before cooking to overnight in the refrigerator on a wire rack. Seems the overnight won out. To see their commentary, google "serious eats, pre salting steak".

                          Like you I was very skeptical but tried putting on kosher salt 24 hrs in advance while the steaks sat on the rack in the refrigerator. Results were outstanding. Easy experiment if you want to try it.

                            1. re: LVI

                              Wow...I stand corrected, sort of. There really doesn't seem to be a right answer, other than personal preference. After reading a couple different articles/studies, this one from Food and Wine seemed to sum it up the best. One observation is that when you have an excellent cut of beef (ie a prime dry aged ribeye) salting right before seems to allow you to taste the meat in a more pure state. Again, personal preference. Here is the article for those interested.


                              1. re: LVI

                                Not sort of. Your original statement was still incorrect.

                                The article you posted was focused on the flavor of the meat, not which method resulted in the least loss of liquid.

                                The point people were making wasn't that salting well in advance is subjectively better than salting last minute. It's that salting in advance often results in less moisture loss during cooking. The Food & Wine article did not test this, as it weighed the meat before cooking but not after.

                                The principle is the same as that of brining. Brining doesn't work the way most people think it does, by pulling water into the meat. Rather, it mainly works by altering proteins in the meat to make it less able to contract while cooking, and squeeze out less liquid in the process. It's the salt in the brine that does this, not the water. Turns out you can achieve a similar effect without the water at all.

                                Prefer whichever you like. But to make it very clear, salting meat the night before does not make it less juicy after cooking. Usually it does the opposite (admittedly, this effect is less noticeable with very rare or very well done meats, and also with extremely even cooking methods such as sous vide).

                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                  It's osmosis, though, right? Kinda?

                                  (I sucked at chemistry. If that even is chemistry :-D)

                                  1. re: linguafood

                                    IIRC, there is some osmosis, especially in wet brining. But that's not the primary mechanism by which brining preserves moisture. If it worked by pure osmosis, then it would make more sense not to add any salt at all and just submerge meat in water, which would create more osmotic pressure (the water would be more strongly pulled into the meat where there are more dissolved solutes).

                                    Apologies if I'm using any terms incorrectly - it's been a while since I've studied chemistry as well.

                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                      Thazz' ok. Just never been much of a natural scientist myself.

                                      That said, my steaks are coming out pretty well. Salting them about an hour/hour and a half ahead.

                                  2. re: cowboyardee

                                    Well if you need me to say sorry Cowboy, I'm sorry. However I need you to come down from that high horse of yours and re-read the article. If you want to be technical, the article DID say they weighed the meat BEFORE salting and after (stating that none of the cuts lost water weight). However, given we are being technical, how does one measure the water weight? Is it done by placing the steak on the scale immediately after along with any accumulated juices? If so that would not account for the additional weight the salt added as it was added PRIOR to weighing. And there are many other points in the article worth mentioning. However, I would skip to the end where the author, a chef for over 10 years, not Internet blogger, stated that he only salts his steaks right before he cooks them, not well before. So in conclusion, I will take the advice of a professional chef and continue to salt right before. Because like he said, " Not only can I handle the truth, I can handle several truths." How about you?

                                    1. re: LVI

                                      I don't want an apology. You're perpetuating a myth, so I posted a correction. Simple as that. No offense was intended to your ego; I'm only interested in making the truth as clear as possible.

                                      I've read several side by side tests. I've personally performed side by side tests. It is quite evident that you have not.

                                      To reiterate, there's nothing wrong with either method, and you can prefer whichever you like. The statement that salting the night before dries out meat, however... Incorrect. I explained why above.

                                      Do what you like.

                                      eta: my point about the article is that their measurements took place before any significant moisture difference would be noticeable, because salting effects how meat acts when it's cooked. If you want a serious discussion of how to design a test for this and the difficulties thereof, I'm game. But as of right now, you seemed to have disregarded my point entirely.

                              2. re: Tom34

                                You and a few others recommend drying the meat first. What I've been doing, fairly successfully, and what I've seen chefs do, is coat the meat with a little olive oil and then add my seasoning rub.

                                1. re: mucho gordo

                                  But dry it first no matter what.

                                    1. re: mucho gordo

                                      Yes, You don't want a wet surface; blot both sides with paper towels, rub on the oo and seasoning. Better sear that way.

                                      1. re: mucho gordo

                                        I cook over extremely hot lump charcoal in a ceramic cooker that radiates the heat straight up and uses a chimney drafting effect. Experts (Naked Wiz) have used expensive equipment to measure temps well over 1000 degrees.

                                        A dry surface chars in about 1 minute with these temps so I have never messed with oiling the surface of the meat. I suspect the olive oil would burn with these temps and leave a foul burnt oil flavor.

                                        On a standard gas grill that peaks at about 650 degrees the oil may not burn. I would defer to others on that.

                                        You could always try the uncovered 24 hr refrigerator surface drying routine with just some sea salt (without the oil) and see how it chars. Then finish indirect. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

                                  1. re: Tom34

                                    In lieu of individual steaks I prefer a large 2" thick prime grade porterhouse that will feed 4adults and after spending a small fortune follow the reverse sear approach on our large BGE to respect the integrity of that beef.

                                    Typically preseason generously with Montreal Steak seasoning about an hour before cooking with a light coat of EVOO.

                                    Fire up the lump charcoal, set up for indirect cook with place setter deflector and throttle the dampers to a controlled 250 degrees burn. Toss on one or two chunks of dry smoking wood like hickory, oak or maple and place the porterhouse into the egg, close the lid and let it low roast with light smoke until the internal temp is just 120.....usually 40 to 50 minutes. BTW I turn and flip around half way. Also use a wired probe thermometer to ensure I don't miss that mark.

                                    At 120 IT remove the beef while opening the dampers, remove the deflector and set up for direct grilling bringing the temperature to 650.....usually takes 5 minutes to build up the heat

                                    With dome open the porterhouse goes on to sear and lightly char at 2 to 3 minutes per side as well as a minute standing upright to finish the ends. Rest the beef for 5 to 10 minutes uncovered, carve off the bone and slice. Results in a perfectly uniform 130 red-pink across the entire thickness with the seared/char outer surface.

                                    1. re: ThanksVille

                                      Sounds good. I know many people like the reverse sear and in some respects I kind of do it with ribs and roasts.

                                      For steaks, I just blast each side then go into a dwell. Always evenly cooked & very easy and the dwell time at the end lets me get last minute things done.

                                      I have a whole dry aged striploin I have to cut up this weekend. Will stick with blast & dwell with that. I may experiment with the reverse sear in a couple weeks with some wet aged steaks. They are a little more forgiving when trying something new.