Grilling season is here in full force and many Canadians are out looking to put a steak on the bbq. Have you ever brought home some beef, carefully grilled it to perfect doneness, only to be disappointed when you took your first bite? Ah, I’ve been there and it’s quite sad after all that anticipation. The truth is that while beef is always a great choice for dinner, there are a few things you should know before tossing some steak on the high heat of a grill.
Some steaks are ideal for the BBQ and some cuts of beef require special preparation before cooking. Some aren’t great for the grill at all. If you find yourself staring at a variety of beef and not knowing which steaks to grab, read on:
Grab it and Grill it
These cuts of steak are best with almost no preparation. Grab them, season with salt and pepper and toss them on the BBQ for fantastic results every time. These steaks are best cooked over high heat to sear in the juices and to a medium temperature (125 – 135 degrees.) Always allow steaks to rest off the heat for at least 15 min (wrapped in foil to keep warm) before slicing.
Loin (top-loin, tenderloin)
Grilling cuts should be given the once over before you buy. Touch them with your fingers – do you feel hard gristle running through them? You might want to pass on those. Some gristle on the edges is okay, as is some hard fat, as it is easily trimmed away. You’ll want to look for fat running through the meat too. Often called marbling, steaks with small beads of soft fat running through are what you want. That fat will soften and melt as you grill to provide lovely flavour and tenderness.
Prep, then grill
These cuts are best marinaded in a bit of acidic liquid to help tenderize. My personal favourite is flank steak. Marinaded, grilled to medium, rested and then cut across the grain – a flank gives an incredibly flavourful steak with fantastic texture. What sorts of acid can you use in a marinade? Try soy sauce, wine, balsamic, or Worcestershire sauce. Add in garlic, seasoning and other herbs for flavour. Don’t forget to use a bit of oil or melted butter as well to round things out. These cuts are often a great choice, especially if you’re feeding a group as the price point is often pretty reasonable. As above, look to avoid steaks with hard gristle running through. Sometimes you can feel this with your fingers so don’t be afraid to press gently on the steaks as you evaluate them.
Rounds (top round, inside round, eye-round)
Chuck (Shoulder medallions, flat iron, top blade)
Braise, Not grill
Braising means to cook meats for a long time over a low temperature in a bit of liquid. You can braise on the grill in a roasting pan, but braising is mostly done in the oven. I personally loved braised beef as it often has loads of flavour and, when cooked well, a fall apart in your mouth tenderness. Braising meats are often the most economical yet and they usually provide all that comfort food heartiness we so love. Beef stew is a fantastic example of braised beef but look for these cuts as well:
Braise your meats in beef broth with a splash of wine or some tomato juice at 325 degrees until they are falling apart in the pan.
Steak is a perfect summer food for the grill and serving up a beautiful piece of beef is something anyone can do. Enjoy!