From The Splendid Table
Everyone has his or her own opinion about the best way to cook a steak. (Not us, though -- we're happy to test-drive them all!)
We heard some terrific advice for grilling a steak on a recent podcast of The Splendid Table with Lynne Rossetto Kasper. (We're always getting great ideas from The Splendid Table, including one of our all-time favorite recipes, Ultimate Cheater BBQ Pork.)
During the call-in portion of the show, a listener asked Lynne for advice on the best way to grill some nice ribeye steaks. Lynne's answer involved cooking with fruit-wood charcoal (which we didn't try) and a gremolata (which we did try -- more on that in a moment).
But she also threw in one piece of advice that was so head-slappingly simple, we couldn't believe we'd never thought of it before: keep the steaks cold.
Typically, we prepare a steak for the grill by rubbing it in olive oil and sprinkling it with salt and pepper (and maybe marinating in Dale's Steak Seasoning if we feel like it).
But we always -- always -- bring the steaks up to room temperature. Why? Well, we often read the advice that by letting meat come to room temperature, you're guaranteeing that it will cook more evenly. That's good advice when you're cooking chicken or fish. But when you're grilling steaks, even cooking is actually the last thing you want.
We've seen the error of our ways! Lynne's advice on the steak (in addition to olive oil, salt and pepper) is to leave it in the fridge until the very last moment before you put it on the grill. That way, you can get a great char on the outside of the meat, while allowing the inside to cook more slowly. The result? A juicer, more tender steak that's perfectly done (medium-rare for us) and has a nice, crisp char.
After you've cooked the steaks on the high-heat section of the grill until they have a nice crust, move them to a low-heat section and keep cooking them until your desired temperature. What could be simpler?
The other bit of crucial steak advice -- which is something we already knew -- is that you've got to let the steaks rest for 10 minutes once you take them off the grill. The resting time allows the juices to return from the surface of the steak back to the inside.
To top these steaks, Lynne suggested a gremolata, which we thought sounded lovely. (If you're not familiar with a gremolata, it's simply a finely chopped mix of herbs and spices that you sprinkle on a dish just before serving. We've made a gremolata on a few occasions in the past, including a flank steak, chicken cutlets and a lamb shank.) It's a terrific way to add a burst of fresh, bright flavors to a piece of meat.
In this case, Lynne suggested a gremolata of parsley, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. We swapped in an orange for the lemon, simply because we had a orange we wanted to use. All you do is chop all the ingredients together until they're finely minced, and then sprinkle on the meat when you're ready to serve.
The gremolata was great, adding a nice, springy note to these steaks. But it was the cold-grilling (our word, not Lynne's) that really blew us away. Trust us -- we'll never put a room-temperature steak on the grill again!
You can listen to Lynne's steak advice on The Splendid Table here, or in the embedded player below.
"Cold-Grilled" Ribeye Steaks with Gremolata
Adapted from The Splendid Table (March 23, 2010)
2 thick-cut ribeye steaks (1 1/2 - 2 inches thick)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 lemons or 1 medium-sized orange
4 garlic cloves, minced
Slather the oil the steaks and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Return to the refrigerator until you're ready to grill, at least 30 minutes.
Start the grill, giving it at least 20 minutes to heat up before cooking the steaks.
Make the gremolata: Select enough parsley so that you'll have about 2 tablespoons once it's minced. Add the zest of both lemons (or the orange), the garlic, and salt and pepper. Chop all ingredients together and then place in a bowl. Add a little juice (about a couple teaspoons) from either the lemon or the orange. Mix to combine, and set aside.
Grill the steaks: Cook the steaks on the hottest part of the grill about 10 minutes, flipping once. Once the steaks are nicely charred on the outside, move them to a low-heat part of the grill. Continue cooking, flipping the steaks occasionally to allow the juices to flow, until the inside of the steaks reaches about 130-135 degrees (for medium-rare), about 10-15 more minutes.
Remove steaks from grill and allow them to rest 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle gremolata over the steaks and serve.