By Teri Tsang Barrett
1. Pat the Meat Dry
Who doesn’t love the seared crust on a steak? These caramelized bits form once meat comes into contact with the hot grill grates. Pat meat dry first, using paper towels or any clean, lint-free kitchen towel — this removes any excess moisture that would otherwise steam-cook the meat, which would inhibit caramelization.
2. Season with Salt and Pepper Just Before Grilling
Salt pulls moisture to the surface, so save the seasoning for the very last moment to keep that process from kicking off and thus rendering patting the meat dry useless!
3. Leave It Alone on the Grill
Once the meat’s on the grill, resist all urges to touch or lift it until it releases from the grill naturally. This will aid in solid grill marks (read: flavor) and keep the meat from tearing. Once the browning (or fond) forms and the meat releases, turn it often as you finish grilling, to allow even cooking.
4. Let it Rest
Once meat is removed from the grill, two things being to happen: 1) A process called “carryover cooking” begins, where the temperature of the meat continues to rise, resulting in a difference in temperature upward of 10 degrees F. 2) When meat is hot, its physical structure loosens and weakens, making it less able to retain juices (flavor alert!); once removed from the grill, meat cools and returns to a stable physical structure that is able to retain its flavorful juices. So, in a nutshell, let steaks rest for about 10 minutes, and give bigger cuts upward of 20 minutes for juices to settle down.
5. Slice It Against the Grain
If you study a large cut of meat, you’ll notice that the meat fibers run in a parallel direction, much like the grain found in a piece of wood. Make cuts in the meat perpendicular to the grain, so that it results in short meat fibers, and thus a tender bite of meat. (Try chewing a piece of meat that’s been sliced along the grain, for experimental purposes only.)