The unofficial start of the summer season kicks off on Memorial Day weekend. For many, this means the wait is over — we can finally pull out the grill and fire it up. And if you’re anything like me, there’s nothing quite like a steak over the open fire.
But grilling the perfect steak isn’t easy. It can be tempting to grab a steak straight out of the freezer, defrost it and toss it on the grill. But if you want a tender, juicy steak dinner, there are a few things you need to do to make your meal memorable.
Master chefs and grillers from Longhorn Steakhouse took the time to teach me the ways of the grill. The tricks they shared are pretty simple and helped me prepare and grill a delicious steak in the Longhorn Steakhouse test kitchen.
Grilling Tip 1: Know Your Steaks
Longhorn Steakhouse Master Chef Michael Senich stressed the importance of picking the proper steak for your meal. If you’re looking for a lean cut of meat, go with the classic sirloin. This is a great option for those who love to eat steak but want to maintain a healthy diet. The ribeye steak (bone-in or boneless) is known for its wonderful marbling of fat, which gives the meat a juicy, rich flavor. The filet mignon is the top-of-the-line steak. It may be small, but the filet is the most tender meat you can get. You’ll pay more for it, but it’s worth it.
Not sure which steak is right for you? Talk to someone in the meat department at your favorite grocery store. They’re there to help you out!
Grilling Tip 2: Use Fresh, Not Frozen Meat
It may sound like a good idea to pick up a steak on sale and store it in the freezer until the big day of the barbecue. However, Master Chef Josh Evans of Longhorn Steakhouse warns would-be grilling masters against it.
“We always use fresh cuts in our restaurants,” Evans said. “When you freeze the meat, it affects the quality. Even if you start with a top quality piece of steak, freezing it changes it.”
A frozen and thawed steak could then lead to a tough, dry steak. And no one wants that on their plate.
Grilling Tip 3: Allow Steak To Get To Room Temperature Before Grilling
So you’ve picked up the perfect, fresh steak and stored it in the fridge until later in the day. Great. Just make sure you take it out and let it get to room temperature before you put it on the grill. Senich said this is a common mistake among home chefs and it causes many problems.
“You don’t want to cook a cold steak on a hot grill,” said Senich. “It takes longer to get the internal temperature right, which can mean leaving it on the grill too long.”
In other words, the steak exterior will heat up faster and might even look done, but the interior will be undercooked. And the longer you leave the steak on the grill, the more risk there is of an overdone or burnt steak.
Grilling Tip 4: Don’t Be Shy With The Seasoning
The chefs at Longhorn Steakhouse’s test kitchen, and in the restaurants, couldn’t say enough about being bold with seasoning a steak before it hits the grill. They like using a combination of dry seasonings and they’re liberal with the application before the steak hits the fire.
“The one tip I have for people at home is to not hold back on the seasoning,” said Longhorn Steakhouse 2019 Steak Masters Series Champion Eric Bates. “To me, that’s what takes it to the next level.”
If you’re using a gas or charcoal grill, it’s especially important to coat the steak with seasoning, as some will fall into the fire during the grilling process. Whether you use your own spices or pick up a pre-packaged blend, it doesn’t really matter. In fact, Bates encourages home grillers to experiment a bit and find bold new flavors to enjoy.
Grilling Tip 5: Leave The Steak Alone On the Grill
I have a confession. I was a chronic steak checker/flipper before being taught by the masters. I was so worried about overcooking the steak or having it stick to the grill, I kept moving it all over the place. Senich told me this is the worst thing to do if you want a perfect steak.
“When you move the steak, you don’t allow it to get that beautiful sear,” said Senich. “It forms that nice crust, which keeps the juices inside. Just leave it alone, keep an eye on it and let the grill do the work for you!”
And don’t cut into the steak to check for doneness. That also lets the juices out of the steak.
So how do you tell if it’s done? The pros recommend a good, digital meat thermometer. But what do you do if you don’t have one? I’m glad you asked!
Grilling Tip 6: The 5-Finger Method
The one tip that blew my mind was a grilling tool I didn’t even know I had with me at all times — my hands! There’s a way of testing a steak’s doneness simply by using your hands. It’s called the 5-Finger Method and it couldn’t be easier. As the steak cooks on the grill, it gets firmer to the touch. Your hand is an accurate reference to how a steak should feel at different levels of doneness. I was a skeptic until I tried it. All three steaks I prepared for the master chefs were done perfectly! Check out this quick video to learn how simple this method is to use!
Grilling Tip 7: Let Your Steak Rest
You’ve mastered the steps necessary to get your steak seasoned well and cooked perfectly. Don’t let your eagerness to eat ruin all that effort! Your steak needs to rest at least a minute or two to allow all that juicy goodness to settle back into the meat. Yes, it will be difficult to wait. But trust me, it’s worth it! Once you cut into that steak, it will be the perfect color, texture and tenderness!
Grilling Tip 8: Still Need Help? Call An Expert!
Everyone can benefit from some expert advice, and the pros at Longhorn Steakhouse will be on call this Memorial Day on its GRILL US Hotline to help guests “raise the steaks” on one of the biggest grilling holidays of the year. Callers can get expert advice on how to bring quality to the grill by dialing 1-855-LH-GRILL (1-855-544-7455) on Monday, May 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET.