How to grill the perfect steak
Juicy tips from a SAIT chef
Summer in Calgary is precious. Children run through sprinklers on front lawns, patrons flock to patios in search of a cold one and cyclists meander through the city. Come dinner time, friends and neighbours gather to fire up the grill and savour a summertime staple: barbecued steak.
Ray Bucknell, an instructor in SAIT’s Butchery and Charcuterie Management program, knows a thing or two about cooking the perfect steak — so we asked him to dissect the process. Follow his tips to rise to steak glory and impress your friends with your culinary prowess.
Step 1: Take the chill off.
“I like to take my steak out of the fridge maybe an hour before it goes on the grill, depending on thickness. This gives the meat a chance to warm up a little bit so you’re not shocking it as badly when it goes on the grill. It will cook quicker and more evenly if you’ve brought your steaks up a few degrees above fridge temperature before grilling.”
Step 2: Get salty.
“I’m a big fan of pre-salting my meat as well. I like to season it the same time I pull it from the fridge. Pat the meat dry with paper towel first to remove surface moisture and help it cook properly, then add your seasoning and let it sit. This gives the steak and salt time to do its thing through osmosis. You’ll end up with a piece of meat that’s seasoned throughout, rather than just crusted on top.”
Step 3: Grill to perfection.
“I like to start off nice and hot on the grill, giving the steak a good sear on either side to get the classic cross-hatch look. Then, if it’s thicker, move it to a less hot place on the grill. Generally, you’ll only want to flip the steak once — but keep checking the bottom to make sure it’s browning the way you want. And don’t be afraid to use a temperature probe.”
Step 4: Wait for it.
“When your steak is done, rest it for a while — long enough to put together a salad or add the finishing touches to another dish. Don’t panic to get it to the plate for your guests while it’s still hot. The meat will hold temperature for a long time, and resting will prevent all those delicious juices from gushing out the second you slice into it.”
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations — you’re well on your way to grilling up some delicious steaks.
But if you’re looking to up your game, Ray’s got one more pro-tip sure to make any meat-lover swoon.
Bonus tip from a steak wizard: Pan = perfection.
“My last trick — especially with a steak like a ribeye that tends to flare up on the grill — is to cook it in a cast iron pan right in the barbecue. This lets the steak cook and stay covered in its own juices. Throw in a couple tablespoons of butter for basting and some fresh herbs and you just might have one of the best steaks you’ve ever eaten.”
For more culinary tips from SAIT experts, register for one of SAIT’s hands-on cooking classes.