Unlike foods like cereal or eggs that people consider to be “breakfast foods,” there is no specified time for serving steaks. As long as you have the ingredients readily available, you can quickly prepare a steak sandwich for lunch or bake potatoes with steaks for dinner. So, all you have to do is to take a few extra minutes to grill steaks then toss them in your regular meal, right? Not quite.
While it’s true that steaks don’t have a time restraint on serving and do well with several foods, the reality is that most people don’t have stacks of steaks waiting in their refrigerator for them to grill any time. Some of us are cautious about fat intake, and many simply can’t afford to have them regularly. Thus, steaks are more famous for festivities like birthday dinners, thanksgiving, and friends’ reunions - my personal favorite!
So, if you plan to grill steaks for any upcoming occasion, you’d want to make sure that the resulting flavor, texture, and appearance are perfect. To ensure that, I have compiled a list of five common mistakes that you should steer clear of.
Choosing the Wrong Cut
Several people buy the wrong cut from the supermarket and are shocked when it is seared by the grill within the first seconds or tastes bland despite all the add-ons. It is because they choose a random steak without any prior knowledge or research. Beware! Not all steaks are created equal.
I’ve learned that cuts that are boneless like ChuckEye or lean like Newyork strip are more suited to cooking in an iron pan. It’s best if you choose a steak that is about 2-4 inches thick, like Sirloin or Porterhouse, when it comes to grilling. It rewards you with a more fulfilling taste as the fat is molten and juices absorbed deep into the tender center that melts in your mouth. Moreover, suppose you are grilling for friends or family. In that case, you can do it on different degrees of doneness after cutting separate slices from the same steak, which is the economically efficient way of doing it. So, make sure you choose your cut accordingly.
Not Using a Thermometer
You have heard that a well-done steak would be hot pink, and a rare one would be a cooler red in the center. However, they don’t always turn out the way they are supposed to despite monitoring the appearance. Why is that so?
I found myself wondering this question several times in the past years; I was using the right grill, chose my cut wisely, and even followed a recipe, but the outcome was frustratingly different from what I had dreamt of. After some deliberations, I realized that I wasn’t using a thermometer to regularly monitor the temperature.
I get that food thermometer is somewhat costly and seem over-the-top, but take it from me; there is no better alternative, and it’s an investment worth making. You can use a regular food thermometer that you stick in the steak center to check if it has reached the recommended internal temperature yet, or you can also go for a probe meat thermometer that you can leave in the grilling steak without any consequences.
Grilling Fresh From the fridge
You look at the clock and realize that you are late, or hear the ding of the doorbell and panic that your friends are here even though the meal isn’t ready. We have all been there, and the urge to toss out some steaks fresh from the fridge onto the grill is almost irresistible. But like the legend of Forbidden Fruit from the garden of Eden tricked Adam and Eve indicates, you should never commit the horrendous crime of grilling steaks fresh from the fridge.
It takes a toll on the juiciness by killing the steaks’ moisture in a way that seasoning cannot restore. If you see fluids pooling around it or spilling from the grill, take it as a warning for the anti-climactic, bland taste. To prevent it, make sure you take out the steak a few hours beforehand and let it thaw at room temperature. Let it sink in!
Flipping Too Much
You’re likely to find multiple opinions on this one; some say flipping repeatedly speeds up the grilling process, and others believe it a Cardinal sin to flip more than once. Though it’s not that severe a crime, I have experimented with both and found that the best result is produced when I flip my steak from two to four times only.
The keys to this suggestion lie in two factors:
Maillard ReactionIt is the fundamental cause behind that perfect browning we all wish to achieve on our steaks. Maillard reaction is a thermal chain of reactions between amino acids and sugars that results in delicate crispiness to the steak.
Evenness of Heat
Flipping a few times can help spread the heat evenly through all sides of the steaks, especially when you sear it at a 45℃ angle first for about a minute.
Hence, flipping twice or thrice can help with heat distribution, but you should never flip it too many times because that disrupts the Maillard reaction and results in an under or overcooked steak.
Dining Too Soon
Waiting for the steak to defrost after taking it out from the fridge, seasoning or tenderizing it, then cautiously searing and grilling it takes some hours that all add up to your excitement to dive in as soon as you take it off the grill. However, this is again a temptingly wrong approach.
As soon as they take it off the grill, many people are inclined to bite at first sight but not letting the steak rest first is unhealthy as even after the removal, it is still in the cooking stage for some time. If you want to ensure that your hard work doesn’t go to waste and the flavor spreads out throughout the dish, give it some time and avoid dining it too soon.
These were some mistakes that you should avoid as much as possible to have a better grilling experience. Make sure you carefully chose the right cut, use a thermometer, and remain patient while your steak is on and off the grill. Happy Grilling!