Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Fire Up the Grills for Memorial Day Weekend

“Grilling Season” is here with the start of Memorial Day Weekend.  So let’s fire up those grills.  It doesn’t matter whether you are using a gas grill, charcoal or wood fired grills.  What matters is that you get out there and do it right.

So this week we will talk “Steaks” for grilling.  Starting from what is usually the most expensive and working our way down. The most popular steaks are; Tenderloin (Filet Mignon), Ribeye, Strip (NY or KC), T-bone and Top Sirloin.

Other steaks that are increasingly more popular include; Flank, Hanger, Flat Iron, Tri-Tip and Skirt steaks.  Some in this group are a little tougher so using a marinade helps both with making them more tender and tasty.

I’m just touching on the first group today.  These steak choices should be anywhere between ¾ inch and 1½ inches thick.  They should “never” be cooked “well-done” because you lose all the natural juices that help make them tender and tasty.  For those of you that think well-done is what you want, try it medium-well a couple of times.  That little pink in the center will not make you sick.

When I had my own restaurant, I converted 95% of those customers into medium-well and even some all the way to medium.  They all commented on how much better their steaks tasted.

All right, back to grilling steaks.  No matter which of these steak choses you make, get the best and freshest ones possible.  Talk to your person at the meat counter.

When getting ready to grill, always pull your steaks from the refrigerator 30 to 60 minutes before grilling.  Letting the steaks come to room temperature helps give you the best results.  The steak will cook more evenly.  If you have steaks an inch thick or greater, you might try salting them both sides.  Then place on a wire rack set in a baking pan.  Refrigerate uncovered up to overnight before grilling.

Prepare your grill for a high heat.  For a gas grill that means turning it on to high.  For charcoal or wood, it means letting the coals get to their maximum heat before putting on the steaks.  You also want to make sure you have a clean grill grate.  Brush the grates with a wire brush after they have been heated.  Then be sure to oil the grates lightly.  This will help keep the steaks from sticking to the grates.  For gas grills, to maximize the high heat, cook with the lid closed.

Pat all the steaks dry with paper towels before seasoning.  This helps give a better outside crust on the steaks.  Season the steaks before placing on the grill.  That means both sides.  For many, just salt and pepper is good enough.  I, however, like to use seasoned salt, garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper.  I never get any complaints with my seasoning.

In grilling, try to only turn the steaks over once or twice in the process.  If you do twice, make a quarter turn of the steak to give beautiful grill marks for presentation.  Do “not” use a fork in the cooking process.  This will only cause you to lose the natural steak juices you want in your steak.  Use tongs or a spatula in turning steaks.

Grill on each side about the same amount of time.  To determine the correct doneness, you want to use an instant-read thermometer or the palm test.  Typically for a 1-inch thick steak, it takes 4-5 minutes for medium-rare.  Add or subtract a minute to each number for other degrees of doneness (rare, medium, medium-well and well).

The “Palm Test” is touching your thumb to each finger one at a time.  Starting with your index finger, touch it to your thumb and feel the firmness of your palm.  This is equivalent to rare.  As you move down the fingers, the firmness represents the other degree of doneness.  The pinky finger is well done.  Pushing on the steak with tongs lets you feel that same firmness to determine the doneness of the steak.

Lastly, remove the steak before it’s completely done.  Shoot for the 90% rule and then let the steak rest.  Once you remove it from the grill, tent with foil and let it rest up to 10 minutes before serving or slicing.  The thicker the steak the longer the rest.  Same goes for thinner.

So I hope you are able to get out and grill.  If not this weekend, you have all summer (at least).  “Happy Cooking” until next week and please share the link with other.  Thanks!

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