How to Grill a Perfect Steak
Jay Murray, executive chef of Grill 23, shares his five golden rules.
1. Get a good piece of meat. While Murray uses dry-aged beef in the restaurant, he also likes naturally raised Brandt beef from City Feed in Jamaica Plain; Whole Foods usually stocks hormone-free Meyer or Coleman beef. Murray recommends buying top sirloin, which is an easy steak to cook: “Avoid ones with big, long streaks of white fat like you see in ads,” he warns. “You want a lot of little white streaks throughout. Intramuscular fat makes a flavorful steak.”
[sidebar]2. Cold steaks are tough steaks. Bring the meat up to room temperature before cooking. “The less resistance that the meat gives to being heated, the more tender it will be,” says Murray.
3. Salt it. Always salt your steak 5 or 10 minutes before grilling. “People say salting before cooking draws water out and results in a dry steak,” Murray says. “But water has nothing to do with how moist your steak will be. By drawing moisture to the surface, you’re creating a layer of moist protein that will make a nice crust when it hits the heat.” The chef seasons his own steaks with a blend of sea salt and smoked paprika.
4. Start hot, then cool. Create two heat zones by piling your coals on one side (if you’re using a gas grill, just turn one half up to high). Sear the steak on the hottest part of the grill, about 2 minutes per side, then move it to a cooler section to finish cooking. “Don’t mess with it too much,” cautions Murray. “I use a covered grill, so heat circulates around the meat, rather than coming from one side.” For a medium-rare steak, remove it from the grill when the internal temperature reaches 125 to 128 degrees. (Total cook time should be about 8 to 9 minutes.) Steaks should be removed at 120 degrees for rare. “The higher the grade of beef and the higher the fat content, the faster it cooks,” he points out. Let the meat rest for about 5 minutes before cutting.
5. Make a sauce. While you’re grilling, melt about 1 tablespoon of butter and add 4 drops of Worcestershire sauce per steak. “It’s the best, simplest sauce ever,” Murray says. Brush it on the steaks after they’re done, and dig in.