Grill a bloody, savory steak
I look forward to summer all year. As a kid, summer meant sleep-away camp, popsicles and dirty flip-flops—along with mosquito bites, tennis lessons and tans so dark I could probably sue my parents.
Summer is still my favorite time of year—ushering in the Farmers' Market, swimsuit season and raucous volleyball games. And there's always falling asleep under the stars, FedEx men in their short-shorts and backyard barbeques. Grilling out with family and friends is one of my favorite summer pastimes, so in my final column of the semester I'm excited to share some tips for preparing the ultimate cookout food—steak.
The first and most important factor in preparing an awesome steak is choosing the cut of meat.You can get away with buying cheap meat for stews, tacos and anything involving the word ""hotdish,"" but steak has very little to disguise its true flavor, so make sure to buy the best cuts you can afford. Try grilling a brisket, rump or flank steak and you'll end up eating a wonderfully char-grilled chunk of rubber.
I would recommend porterhouse, sirloin or rib-eye steaks—all are easy to grill and incredibly flavorful. Skimp on BBQ guests before you skimp on meat quality—no one likes your cousin's girlfriend anyway.
The meat shouldn't be too thick, about an inch or an inch and a half is perfect. Make sure to trim off any large chunks of fat, scary-looking gristle or unexpected tendon. Some people claim these little extras add flavor, but some people also watch Formula One and wear white jeans, so we can't be relying on some people, now can we?
Prepping the meat for grilling is a matter of personal taste. Some like to use marinades or dry rubs while others simply grill the meat without any fuss. A marinade will need to soak for at least a few hours, so plan ahead, or have lots of Cheetos and beer on hand to appease hungry guests.
I have an obscenely short attention span, so I tend to take a minimalist approach and use only salt and pepper on my steaks. I love letting the flavors develop on their own. Never apply salt more than a few minutes before grilling though. It will suck out all the moisture and leave your meat drier than your brain feels the morning after Mifflin.
The grill itself is the second most important factor in cooking a kick-ass steak. It doesn't matter if the flame comes from gas or charcoal as long as it's hot. Crazy hot. Patrick Swayze teaching Baby how to dance with those rippling shoulder-muscles hot.
Let the grill heat for at least 15 minutes to ensure this desired level of heat has been reached, then slap on your steaks. Let the meat sear for three to four minutes without touching it—sit on your hands or close the lid if you are incapable of doing this.
Use tongs, never a fork or skewer—or you'll lose all the juice—flip the meat and sear the other side for the same amount of time.
I like my steaks bloody as hell, so I tend to remove mine at this point and ignore the disgusted looks of my friends and family.
If you like your meat medium, give it a few more minutes on each side, turning the heat down just a bit. If you like your steaks well done, well, you're a disgrace to society and should not be wasting good cuts of meat. Save yourself the 10 bucks and go to Old Country Buffet for dinner.
Never cut the steaks open to check to see if they are done; give them a good poke to determine if they need a few more minutes.
Rare steak feels soft, but not squishy, medium-rare yields slightly to the touch and medium steak feels firm, but not hard. Practice makes perfect.
Do not serve your steaks immediately after removing them from the grill. Let them ""rest"" for a few minutes so the juices can move back into the meat, and you can get your game face on.
Purists allow nothing on their steaks but a bit of butter and parsley, but I am a glutton and insist on more.
SautAced mushrooms are classic, but try adding caramelized pearl onions for a sweet bite.
Fruit salsas and chutneys are unexpected and delicious steak toppers; mango and apple are my favorite because they pair well with red meat and keep a tangy taste savoring in your mouth long after the piece has been eaten.
Blue cheese is the best steak companion in the entire world—do not let your wussy friends tell you otherwise.
Lastly, steak topped with Gorgonzola, butter and minced green onions is so delicious you feel naughty just looking at it.
Fire up those grills and enjoy your summer!Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter