Summer is here and so is grilling season.
Story by Dave Eckert
If May is National Barbecue Month, then June, July and August must be the “season of the grill.” Grilling in America is a right of passage, but unfortunately, not everyone gets it right. So, this issue, I sought some advice from local experts to help ensure that those steaks on the grill will be some of the best you’ve ever had!
“I recommend using heat, and seasoning it well with salt before putting it on the grill,” Joe West suggested to me. West knows of what he speaks. As Executive Chef of Stock Hill, the stunning new steakhouse from Bread and Butter Concepts, West oversees the cooking of more high end steaks than likely anyone in town, some 500 a week. His advice for the home griller? “Get to know your butcher so you can get a consistent, reliable source of meat. I like rib-eyes personally because they’re generally well-marbled. But, try to get a bone-in steak whichever cut you choose. They’re tenderer and easier to cook to the right temperature,” West advised.
Craig Jones, aka The Grill Mayor, is a friend of mine. At last count, Jones had something like eight grills and smokers on his deck. He’s obsessed with the art of grilling, and for him, it truly is an art. If there’s one mantra Jones preaches when it comes to grilling, it’s the reverse sear – the technique of slow-cooking a steak first, then finishing it off with a super-hot sear. “It truly is the optimal way to ensure a steak that’s cooked to the proper temperature – the best steak you’ll ever have!” Jones exclaimed. Jones details what amounts to a 12-step program for a reverse sear steak – everything from salting the meat at the beginning, to testing to make sure it’s the proper temperature at the end, to letting the meat rest before slicing. Oh, don’t forget the pepper, but AFTER the steak is cooked. “You see, pepper is actually a berry that will burn during the searing phase of cooking. Fresh ground pepper tastes so much better than burnt pepper,” Jones added.
Twelve steps for cooking a steak may sound complicated, but Jones insists each step is easy. Want more info? Just Google “Craig Jones” and “reverse sear” and you will have his tips at your fingertips in minutes.
Finally, some thoughts from a true “meat man,” Chad Tillman, lead butcher at The Hen House on NW 64th Street. Tillman knows his cuts of meat as well as anyone I’ve ever met. That, he says, is a key to grilling success.
“There are so many options for a perfect steak. One of my favorite underestimated cuts is the Tri-tip sirloin, which offers great marbling and tenderness when prepared and sliced correctly,” Tillman shared. “The Tri-Tip sirloin just might be the perfect steak!”
Ah, the perfect steak! Now you’ve got some advice from the pros to accomplish that on your own all summer long and beyond!