How to Grill a Perfect Steak (Fit for Mad Men)
A recent Mad Men episode showed Betty reaching a single pretty, manicured finger onto a pan-fried steak to determine how well-done it was. All the while, she never took her limpid gaze off her husband.
Believe it or not, this test — plucked from an era when, let’s face it, people knew their steaks — is an entirely valid method for testing how well-done your steak is, whether you’re cooking it on the stove, in a fireplace, or how we like it best … on a grill.
Here’s how you do it: Hold your hand flat, palm-side up: press the fleshy part below your thumb — that’s what rare feels like. Press the exact middle of your palm — that’s medium. Press the part at the base of your pinky — that’s well-done (and probably tough!).
Now, if you’re only a steak-every-so-often type, we suggest getting your meat from a butcher or a store with a butcher-section. Those guys, with their bloody aprons and beefy arms, love to talk about meat, and they can offer expert advice on which cuts will be best for your dinner plans. They’ll even offer cooking tips in a pinch. But if you’re on your own, pick a thicker steak, and keep in mind that the cheaper the cut, the more you have to be vigilant about not overcooking it.
One tip all the pros give: Let the meat rest — both before you cook it (about 20 minutes, to take off the refrigerator chill) and after (5–10 minutes, to allow the juices to distribute back to the middle). Beyond that, there are so many ways to make a great grilled steak. You can keep it totally simple, because steak has its own amazing flavor, or you can layer flavors via a marinade or spice-rubs to enhance that flavor in different ways. The grill is like an artist’s easel, though: once you get the basics down, you can take off on your own flights of fancy. So long as you don’t overcook it, it’s always going to be good.
Looking for a place to start? Check out our handy how-to video.
A basic, simple marinade that works quickly. You can add mustard, garlic, ginger or other flavors, as you wish.
This prize-winning marinade is slightly more complicated, but not much — and it’s worth the effort.
A quick-and-easy steak recipe that’s no less delicious. A medley of sautéed sweet peppers not only adds appetizing color but a piquant counterpoint to the meaty steaks.
Paired with some unusual accoutrements, steak on the grill can be downright fancy (and certainly creative)!
Marinated in gin, paired with olives — why have your cocktail on the side, Don Draper?
Mad for steak? Explore all our great grilled steak recipes!