Medium-rare steak

A medium-rare steak with salad and potatoes.

Kim West offers the following tips on preparing a great steak:

  1. Steak selection -- Buy the best quality steak available that fits within your budget. Prime grade or certified black angus is the finest quality. Choice meat is fine. For maximum flavor, look for meat with fine streaks of fat (marbling) and a layer of fat on the outside. Dry-aged beef has been aged in a very dry environment to concentrate the flavor of the meat. Popular cuts for grilling include: rib-eye steak, tenderloin filet, porterhouse steak and T-bone steak.
  2. Let the steak come to room temperature before grilling. Take the steak out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  3. Make sure your grill grates are very clean. This is an easy step if you use a wire grill brush on the grill while the coals are still hot at the end of your grilling sessions. Cleaning the grill before you cook your steaks is a key element in achieving good grill marks.
  4. Use hardwood lump charcoal in the grill. Hardwood burns hotter and doesn't contain additional chemicals. It is easier to light than briquettes.
  5. Place your charcoal to create a hot side and a cooler side of the grill. Bank your coals to one side and use position to help regulate the heat for your cooking.
  6. For lighting the grill, avoid lighter fluid. It can affect the flavor of your steak. Instead, use a charcoal chimney starter or use a wood chip cake starter. Lump hardwood charcoal starts readily with the starter cakes.
  7. Oil the grates. Use cooking spray such as Pam. Also, rub an oiled rag over the hot grate. A pair of long-handled tongs is a must for this operation.
  8. Brush your steaks with oil and sprinkle them with a generous amount of kosher or sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Be aware, however, that pepper can hinder the formation of good grill marks.
  9. A hot grill is one of the most important variables affecting your grilling success. If the grill is too hot, the outside of your steak will burn while the inside remains raw. If your grill is too cold, you might as well roast the meat in the oven. Rule of thumb is too hold your hand about four inches above the grate. When the heat is correct, you should be able to hold your hand there for the count of four but no longer.
  10. For the best grill marks, position your steak at a 10 o'clock angle on the grill and cook about four minutes. Rotate the steak to the 2 o'clock angle and cook four more minutes. Flip the steak and repeat the process. Do not move the steak around other than that.
  11. Test for doneness using the press test or an instant-read meat thermometer. For the press test, press the meat with your finger. The meat becomes firmer as it it more done. A rare steak is squishy, medium is springy and well-done is taut when pressed. By temperature, a rare steak will read 120 degrees, medium rare will read between 125-130, and a medium steak should register 135-140.
  12. Allow your steak to rest for five minutes covered with aluminum foil before you serve it. If you cut the meat immediately, you will lose some of the juicy flavor. Make sure to brush your grill while it is hot to be ready for your next session at the grill.

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