Top Steak Experts Share Their Best Cooking Tips

steaks and corn being grilled over a charcoal grill.

Cooking a great steak requires both technique and practice to get right. Although it appears straightforward, there are a plethora of choices and decisions that go into proper steak cooking. What’s the best cut for grilling? How do you season a steak properly? What temperature should the grill be at? For the best advice, why not seek the help of some steakhouse and butcher professionals?

Steakhouse Cooking Techniques

As a steak expert, executive chef Arturo McLeod of Benjamin Steakhouse has a wealth of knowledge on beef. Benjamin Steakhouse is a family-owned restaurant that prides itself on high-quality steaks and fantastic service. The restaurant has locations in New York state and Tokyo, Japan.

The first thing McLeod recommends is to source USDA Prime beef, which guarantees a high level of marbling and tenderness. If USDA Prime isn’t an option, McLeod has a great hack for lesser-quality steak — punching holes in the meat with a large fork. This technique will help tenderize and ensure faster cooking. For grilling, McLeod personally prefers cuts with more marbling such as ribeye, New York strip, or skirt steaks. The steak should also be butchered uniformly (the same thickness) to ensure even cooking.

While there are plenty of seasonings and marinades out there for steak, sometimes simple is best. “All you need to cook a steak is Kosher salt!” said McLeod. “It’s thicker, has more flavor, and holds better to any meat when you’re grilling. All you need to do is sprinkle it on a few minutes before you grill, but you can also let it marinate for a little longer.” For an added kick, McLeod will sometimes brush his steak with a touch of Benjamin Steak Sauce, giving the meat a light sweetness without overwhelming the natural flavor of the steak.

Besides nailing the seasoning, it’s critical that your grill or pan is roaring hot. For a grill, aim for a temperature that’s above 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  If the grill doesn’t seem hot enough, McLeod likes to throw some fat on it. This will fuel the flames and increase the heat. McLeod also recommends using natural hardwood charcoal instead of gas grills due to charcoal’s natural, smoky flavor. Since most steaks are about 1-inch thick, McLeod recommends grilling for about 5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium-rare. For medium, grill approximately 8 to 10 minutes (11 to 13 minutes for well done).

Grilled Flank Steak

Flank steak from E3 on cutting board with knife and sprig of cilantro.
E3 Flank Steak.

(By rancher Jake Gross at E3 Ranch & Co.)

E3 Ranch & Co. is a sustainable meat company specializing in responsibly raised cattle. All the beef at E3 is grass-fed, grain-finished, wet-aged for 28 days, and never subjected to antibiotics, hormones, or steroids. Founded by retired MLB player Adam LaRoche, E3 Ranch & Co has also dedicated themselves to two other socially minded missions: Helping combat veterans with PTSD and fighting human trafficking in America.

Flank steak is a lean, but intensely flavorful cut of meat that’s often overshadowed by the popular cuts of ribeye and New York strip. However, flank steak is extremely versatile, affordable, and perfect for show-stopping tacos or fajitas. Flank steak is tasty with simple salt but it truly shines when marinated or seasoned heavily (flank steak goes great with sweet or spicy flavors). An important tip for flank steak is to always slice the steak thinly across the grain. This makes a huge difference in both tenderness and texture when eating. E3 also offers other interesting, lesser-known cuts such as the tri-tip, bavette, and picanha butcher cuts. All three cuts are great for grilling but each has its own flavor profile. Tri-tip is a large, leaner cut butchered from the bottom sirloin that’s very popular in northern California. Bavette is similar in flavor to a skirt steak (iron-rich and beefy) while the picanha (sirloin cap) is popular in Brazilian barbecue and features lean meat with a rich fat cap.

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. Pull a thawed flank steak out of the fridge and scuff the edges by making slices into the flank not too deep. This creates more surface space, allowing for the seasoning to penetrate the meat more deeply and get more flavor.
  2. Thoroughly coat the flank with Lane’s Combo Rub and follow that with a light coating lanes Kapalua next. Let it sit at room temperature for an hour if possible.
  3. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until it’s smoking. With the cast iron smoking, begin searing the steak on both sides until there is a nice char. This could range from 3 to 5 min per side depending on the skillet. Make sure to alternate a minute each side to get an even cook.
  4. Once seared to your desired taste, pull off of the direct fire and finish cooking in an oven (350 degrees Fahrenheit), gas/charcoal grill (put it on the middle rack if possible to avoid the direct fire), or a pellet grill (350 F) until the internal temperature is 135 degrees. Remove the steak from the grill or oven. The reason to take temp to 135 degrees is to break down the “E3 secret feed recipe” marbling. That will give you a nice pink throughout the entire steak.
  5. Let the steak rest for 5 to 10 min. Slice against grain. That makes the meat more tender. Don’t throw out the juices. Once sliced, dress the steak once again with Lanes Combo Rub and then pour the juices over the meat and serve family style.

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