For great-flavored steak, choose the cut carefully and give it a dry rub of seasoning before putting it on the grill. In this article you’ll learn which cuts are the best for grilling, how to prep the steak, ingredients for a basic steak rub, and how to get smoked flavor on a propane grill.
Good Grillers: The Best Cuts for Grilling
The tenderest steaks are cut from the section between the ribs and the hips along the back. Steaks from the short loin, just behind the ribs, include porterhouse, T-bone steaks, the boneless strip loin (or New York steak), and most of the tenderloin. Steaks from the sirloin section, just behind the loin, include top sirloin, sirloin, and the rest of the tenderloin. These steaks can be grilled, oven broiled, or pan-broiled.
Rib steaks (with a bone) and rib-eye or club steaks (without a bone) are tender enough to grill or broil. Of the less expensive cuts, skirt steak is cut from the diaphragm muscle. It’s full flavored and tender and can be grilled or pan-broiled.
Flank steak, true London broil, is a flavorful favorite for the grill, but it tends to be tough. The best way to get around the problem is to buy USDA Choice grade for grilling — the grade of meat makes a big difference in tenderness. Keep flank steak fairly rare, since it will toughen if it’s overcooked. When you slice it, be sure to cut across its fibrous grain. Flank steak is not recommended for pan-broiling.
How to Prep the Steak and the Grill
The outer layer of fat on most steaks should be trimmed to about 1/8 inch before grilling. Slash the fat at 1- to 1 1/2-nch intervals to prevent the steak from curling as it cooks, and season the meat with a dry rub or herbs, if desired. Refrigerate until 1/2 hour before cooking.
Remove the grill rack and oil or spritz it with nonstick vegetable spray. Set it 4 to 5 inches above the fire for thin cuts such as flank steak; 6 to 7 inches for a thick sirloin.
Light the fire about 45 minutes before cooking so it will have a chance to burn down to glowing coals covered with ash.
Place the steak on the grill. Baste with marinade or barbecue sauce if you like. But first-quality steaks should not be marinated with barbecue sauce; it will mask their flavor.
Ingredients for a Basic Steak Rub
One way to flavor a steak is with dry seasoning rubbed on before grilling. For a basic mix, blend:
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
You might add Southwestern, Middle Eastern, or other flavorings to the mix.
Dry rubs can be kept on hand in tightly covered jars. To use fresh herbs, garlic, and other ingredients in a rub, prepare a small amount just before use.
Grilling Indoors: Pan-Broiling Steaks
If you’re cooking indoors, pan-broil steak in a heavy skillet or grill pan (a skillet with grids on the bottom). If juices accumulate, remove them periodically with a bulb baster or spoon.
Heat the pan until a drop of water sizzles on it and spritz the bottom with nonstick vegetable spray. Add the meat and cook over moderately high heat until the grill marks show, turn, and grill the other side until so marked. Lower the heat slightly and cook until done as desired, 2 or 3 minutes for rare; 5 to 6 minutes for medium; and up to 15 minutes for well done. Increase the time 4 to 5 minutes for 1/2-inch thickness.
Grilling With Gas: How to Get Smoked Flavor on a Propane Grill
To give barbecue flavor to food on a propane grill, soak a handful of your favorite hardwood chips in water for 15 minutes. Pour off the water and wrap the damp chips in aluminum foil, leaving one end open.
Wearing fireproof mitts, lay the smoker packet on the grill’s heated grids or rocks. Smoky flavor will waft over the food.
Allow 15 to 20 minutes on the fire for the smoke flavor to permeate the meat. After the grill has cooled down, discard the foil smoker packet.