Grill Master’s Guide

Grill Master’s Guide

Publish Date June 6, 2024 1 Minute Read
Author MyMagazine Staff

Our experts from the meat department, Will Z. and Gary W., walk us through the different cuts and grades of steak, then share their foolproof steps for turning out juicy steaks every single time.

When it comes to grilling the perfect steak, it starts with knowing the grade and cut of meat. From there, it’s all in the prep work!

Making the Grade

There are three main grades of beef: USDA Prime, USDA Choice and USDA Select (from highest to lowest). The most important factor in assigning grade is marbling. Marbling is the fat intermingled with the beef muscle. It helps ensure tenderness, flavor and juiciness.

USDA Prime beef is produced from young, well-fed cattle. It has the most marbling. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent for grilling.

USDA Choice beef is high quality, but has less marbling than Prime. Choice roasts and steaks, especially from the rib and loin, will be very tender, juicy and flavorful. They are highly suited for the grill.

USDA Select beef is slightly leaner than Prime and Choice because it has less marbling. It can lack some tenderness, flavor and juiciness as compared to the higher grades. So, it benefits from marinating prior to grilling.

Making the Cut

The cut of the meat refers to the section of the cow the meat comes from. The majority of grilling cuts come from the “middle meats.” The five main players are ribeye, strip steak, T-bone, filet mignon and sirloin. No matter the cut, when it comes to grilling, Gary recommends looking for a 1–1½-inch thick cut. “Never cut it under that,” he says. “Or it will start curling up on the grill.”

All you really need is salt and pepper.
Grilled T-Bone Steak

Prep Makes Perfect

Once you’ve chosen a cut, it’s all a matter of prep. For almost any steak, it comes down to the same techniques. However, leaner meats (mostly the end meats like round and chuck) do better when marinated before grilling — it helps them retain moisture during cooking. First, allow the meat to come to room temperature before throwing it on the grill. Don’t go straight from fridge to grates. This allows for more even cooking. Then, preheat the grill and get it as hot as possible. If you don’t let the grill heat up, the steak will end up steaming instead of searing.

Blotting the steak will also wick away the excess moisture and prevent it from instantly charring. It also ensures the outside of a steak will develop just the right amount of crunch. Finally, season it and give the spices some time to settle into the steak. As for a perfect seasoning, Will considers himself a purist. “All you really need is salt and pepper,” he says.

Grilling like a Pro

“Do not overturn your steak; one flip is enough,” Will cautions. This interferes with the searing process and can result in an undercooked, over-charred steak. And, be sure to sear it quickly in the open flame, then move it to a cooler part of the grill. So how do you tell when it’s done? Use a meat thermometer. “For a medium rare steak, the temperature should read 145°F; for a medium steak, it should read 160°F; and for well done, 170°F.”

But the real key here is letting the steak rest, explains Will. “Remove the steak from the grill when it’s 5–10 degrees away from the level of doneness you want and cover it for about 10 minutes,” he explains. “As it’s resting, it will continue to cook to the correct temperature.”

5 Different Cuts of Steak

A Cut Above

Learn more about the unique characteristics of each cut.

1. Ribeye

Will’s top pick! More internal fat means more flavor. Also a great steak to use for your first grilled steak. “It’s the most forgiving,” says Will.

2. T-Bone

Actually made of two different steaks joined by the bone (a filet mignon would be the left and a strip steak on the right). Top with a simple rub including chili powder, garlic and brown sugar to add a spicy-sweet touch.

3. Filet Mignon

The most tender with a buttery taste and texture. Serve with garlicky roasted green beans and a béarnaise sauce.

4. Strip Steak

Great flavor, but a little leaner. Pairs perfectly with roasted red potatoes and savory starches.

5. Sirloin

This is the best bet for classic summer kebabs featuring mushrooms, squash, zucchini and tomatoes.

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