Steak-Grilling Tips from a Pro

What better way to celebrate the start of summer than with a nice, juicy steak? While it’s not necessarily an easy task, grilling can be truly rewarding because it produces a great charred taste that everyone loves. Chef Steve Capodicasa of Kings Food Markets gave us his tips for cooking a perfect steak on the grill.

  • Buy thick steaks! The best steaks to cook are ones that are 1 ¼ inch to 2 inches thick. This allows them to sear on the outside without being overdone on the inside. The easiest way to ruin a steak is to get it too thin because it will get overdone in a snap.
  • Freezing may help for thin steaks. Buying a thin steak and grilling it while it’s frozen can help keep it from being overdone and dried out. You need a lot of heat to sear and char the outside and keep it rare and juicy (or your preference) on the inside.
  • Room temperature is best. In most cases (other than when the steak is thin), steaks cook the best if they are at room temperature before you start to grill them.
  • Don’t be afraid to turn up the heat! To cook the best-tasting steaks, you need very high heat to sear and char the steak on the outside. High heat produces a great grilled flavor and keeps the steak juicy by cooking it quickly before the juices can escape. It doesn’t really seal in the juices, as is popular belief — but it’s a good practice anyway if you want the best, and juiciest, steaks.
  • Let them sit. Steaks continue to cook after being removed from the grill. Remove your steak a little before it is cooked the way you like it, so that it does not become overdone. After grilling, let your steak rest for 5 to 10 minutes before you cut it. This will keep more of the juices in the steak, and less on the plate as you eat it.

Chef Steve also gave us the low-down about his favorite types of steak:

  • Tri-tip: “This smallish muscle from the bottom sirloin is popular in California and perfect for grilling.”
  • Flat Iron Steak: “It’s from the chuck, so it has a robust, strong beefy flavor. It’s very versatile and works well with stronger dry rubs like pepper and ginger, with jalapeno or with marinade. Great to cut up or mix in fajitas.”
  • Spinalis: “Strange name, but this is my absolute favorite of all, a knockout punch of texture and flavor. Also called the ‘cap steak,’ or ‘cap of rib eye.'”
  • Boneless Chuck Short Ribs: “You can braise them like you would regular short ribs, then you can cool them, brush them with barbecue sauce or another sauce, and heat them on a grill.”
  • Filet of Sirloin: “It’s not as tender as filet [mignon] but may be more flavorful – and it is far less expensive.”
  • Denver Cut Steak: “A continuation of the short rib from the chuck, it is very, very well-marbled, with good distribution of fat, and easily grilled. This may well be the next big thing.”

photoEditorial Intern: Lou Petrella is a senior at Rutgers University, with a double major in Journalism and Media Studies, and Sports Management. Having grown up in Whippany, Lou is passionate about his Morris County roots. Aside from being an avid sports lover, Lou cares deeply about food and should not be bothered while enjoying a good meal. Italian food and seafood are his favorites, but a nice summer barbecue just may trump them both. At school, Lou works as a correspondent for the Daily Targum, and is preparing for a career in writing or communications.