Best Grills for Steaks
There is no doubt here – the scent that comes from a steak on a grill is simply divine. It is like being in a bubble bath. There is simply no man out there who will not die for one juicy steak. The moment the grill hits the surface, the intense heat produces a magnificent shimmer. Yet, sometimes despite all the backyard pitmaster’s efforts and hours spent, the end product is just a “piece of meat”, which can possibly be defined as “very good.”
To be able to understand how to make not just a great steak but also the greatest, we need to take a moment and understand the “science” of what makes one steak a great one. The great news is that this science behind how to produce a great steak is as simple as it is beautiful.
Good meat is important for a variety of reasons. Some cuts, like ribeye and New York strip, are usually reserved for special occasions. Others, like flank and inside skirt steak, can be cooked into a variety of fajitas. Regardless of the type of the meat, they all benefit from:
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A great sear
Also known as the “Crust”, this micro-thin layer of flavor compounds is produced when meat and other protein-rich foods are exposed to high heat. It produces a pleasant flavor and helps trigger the brain’s desire to eat. It is worth mentioning that with steaks this reaction most often occurs when the meat is exposed to direct heat – such as direct flame or ripping hot metal grill grates for example.
Well, what does this mean when it comes to buying a grill, which shall be specifically built to produce a great steak? It means that grills, which operate mostly by using indirect heat, will not produce the same smoky flavor that you will get from a grill that works mainly on direct heat. Repeat after me, when it comes to cooking a flavorful and juicy steak, direct heat should be your number one priority!
What other characteristics should we search in a grill?
Ah, the eternal dispute – gas or charcoal. We can spend an eternity here arguing about the merits of the one over the other and in the end, there would still be people that will be entrenched in their own camp! Fortunately, some distinctive features might help us to set one grill above the other, ignoring the preference of fuel source.
Grill Grate or Charcoal Firebox proper height adjustment
When it comes to developing a great sear, a grill should be used to its maximum heat. A grill that allows you to move the grate down or up or the charcoal firebox up or down allows you to create a powerful sear, which will allow the steak to finish its natural juices.
Take advantage of the Dampers for maximum heat control
Even if a charcoal grill does not have the ability to control the grate height, you can still use the controls of the damper to get the most out of your grill. You just need to keep in mind that the upper dampers hold the heat within the grill – under the lid. The lower damper is specially designed to let air in the grill, which intensifies the flame.
Create dual heat zones if you are cooking on a Gas grill
A gas grill with multiple burner elements allows you to develop two distinct and different heat zones. You can simply start by firing up one side of the grill at high temperature and the other one on medium or low. Once everything is done, place the steak onto the high heat side for about a minute and a half or two. After these two minutes, gently slide it over to the middle-low side for two to three minutes so you can ensure that the interior of the steak is warmed. When it is ready to flip, place it back on the high heat zone and repeat. This cooking method will ensure that your steak will have a nice crust with a medium / medium-rare interior.
Note that you might not be able to do that with a gas grill that features only one small burner!
The Warming rack matters
If you have ever taken a piece of steak straight off the grill and cut into it, chances are it has had a pink liquid build up. What is left behind is, sadly, a piece of meat, which turned dry. This is because the nature of protein fibers in meat allows them to contract when heated. If you give the steak a “rest” for about 3 to 5 minutes, the fibers within the meat will loosen and the juices will redistribute. You can do this by removing the meat from the grill and wrapping it in aluminum foil or just moving it to a cooler section of the warming rack. This will keep the meat warm and juicy, without enhancing the interior doneness.
Are Infrared grills good for cooking steaks?
The biggest limitation of gas grills is that they cannot get hot enough to properly sear a steak. An infrared burner, which can reach temperatures in the 800-900F range, is the best way to get that sear.
Most Infrared grills operate on a propane flame, which heats a special ceramic element. Infrared does not breakdown the natural moisture layer of the steak. It just radiates heat energy into the meat and it does it extremely quickly, which allows you to sear perfectly the exterior of the steak.