Do grocers know what we're thinking about when it comes to celebrating special days? They must. I have yet to see a store that doesn't have lobster tails on sale right before Mother's Day. But what about Dad? He's going to need some manly food for Father's Day, and of course, our supermarkets will come through with a sale on, what else, steaks.
I grew up having a grilled steak every Saturday night for as long as I can remember. That was my father's ritual. For Father's Day, we would play golf and then grill a steak - not the normal Saturday night variety, but a big, honking T-bone.
Every summer, I try to remind you of the ways to a great steak. Buy good meat. Grass-fed and grass-finished steaks are infinitely better tasting with a bolder flavor that holds up well against the lick of the grill's flames. Season simply.
Making sure that the surface of the steak is dry helps in the caramelization process. That's the slight charring that takes place as you grill a steak, or any item for that matter, and that is flavor. Wrap the steak in a paper towel to rid it of moisture.
The one liquid exception is oil. I like to brush steaks with a little olive oil on both sides (not extra virgin) to help with the heat transfer. Great steakhouses like Peter Luger's are cooking at temperatures of about 1,800 degrees. You won't get that much heat off of a grill, but by brushing a steak with oil, the heat transfer occurs more quickly, the caramelization develops more evenly, and the result is great steakhouse flavor.
Timing is also important. Nothing's worse than an overcooked steak. Professionals use touch to gauge doneness and so can you. Touch your index finger to your cheek. When the meat feels this way, the steak is rare. Touch the tip of your nose and that firmness on your steak equates to medium. Your forehead is well done. But please don't go there.
Let it rest awhile
It is crucial that you let a steak rest before slicing. If you cut into a piece of beef, or any protein for that matter, as soon as it comes off the grill you will lose precious juices. Give the proteins in the steak the opportunity to unwind a little bit from the heat and to reabsorb and recirculate the natural juices within the meat. At least 5 minutes is needed, 10 is even better.
A simple pat of butter or compound butters are awesome ways to finish a steak.
Set Dad up with this steak next week, and get some oohs and aahs.
Reach Fred Thompson at email@example.com.