5 Steps To the Perfect Steak—and a 4-Recipe Video

Today’s awesome guest post and video is offered by Head Chef Yankel of ButcherBox. If you’ve been around Mark’s Daily Apple for a while, you’ve likely heard of ButcherBox, a company close to the core Primal values of clean eating, great flavor and healthy sustainability. I’ve been a happy customer and proud affiliate since their beginnings. Today, Chef Yankel is sharing his 5 tips for getting the perfect steak every time—AND a video with 4 delicious summer recipes you won’t want to miss. (And because you’ll want to get cooking, we’re throwing in two deals for your summer barbecue planning.)

There is no better—or easier—way to treat yourself to a healthy and delicious meal this summer than by throwing a grass-fed steak on the grill, waiting a few minutes, and then eating up as much tender, hearty goodness as you can.

One of the simple joys of being the Head Chef at ButcherBox is that I get to experiment with all our amazing cuts of grass-fed beef, many of which can be a challenge to get at the local butcher or supermarket.

I’ve discovered that whether I grill a steak over an open flame or braise it in a skillet, there are a few key steps that anyone can take to get a perfect steak every time you cook.

Use the right seasoning or marinade. Before even beginning to cook, you have to make a few essential preparations. The first is choosing the right cut. Personally, I enjoy everything from ribeye to steak tips and tri-tip steak to skirt steak on a grill. Some of the cuts you usually find in a steakhouse—like a filet mignon or New York strip steak—are already so tender and flavorful, you don’t need to do much more than coat with salt and black pepper before cooking.

Some other cuts, although no less flavorful, come from areas of a cow that have had more use, and therefore have a bit more connective tissue. These steak — flat iron steak, flank steak, skirt steak, hanger steak, and others — are perfect for marinating. Soaking a skirt steak in a marinade adds flavor and tenderness; some of our favorite these days are Primal Kitchen® Lemon Turmeric Vinaigrette and Marinade or their amazing Balsamic Vinaigrette and Marinade. You can also use a base like Primal Kitchen’s Organic Unsweetened Ketchup and make your own marinade by experimenting with flavors like ginger, garlic, and chipotle.

(Additionally, don’t be afraid to use Primal Kitchen Greek Vinaigrette and Marinade if you are cooking chicken breast. It pairs perfectly with ButcherBox free range organic chicken and some grill roasted peppers.)

The key to any good marinade is flavor and time. There are two approaches to marinating meat, and both work equally well. One, you put your steak in a bowl or plastic bag, add the Balsamic Vinaigrette and Marinade, cover, and let sit overnight. This will give you a deeply ingrained flavor. Amazingly, it also works to marinade for less than an hour before cooking. Steaks cooked in this manner are often no less flavorful. Just make sure you don’t over-marinate, as that will toughen the beef.

Get beef to room temperature. Some argue against this step, but I think it is a key part of the process to getting the perfect, evenly cooked steak.

The best approach is to let your steak marinate at room temperature if you are doing the short marinate technique or let the long marinating bowl of steak sit for a bit before cooking.

This step will allow the internal temperature in the steak to even out. Basically, this makes it so that when you throw it on the grill, the center is not too cool.

Get the grill hot…in all the right spots. Make sure you give your grill at least 10 to 15 minutes to warm up—especially a gas grill. The ideal temperature to cook on a grill is 500°F.

With a charcoal grill, make sure the coals are grey before throwing on some steaks. This is the sign they are hot enough to cook. It is best to use a firestarter chimney when using a coal grill; using lighter fluid will detract from the delicious flavor of the grass-fed steak.

A good rule of thumb is that if you can keep your hand a few inches above the grill for a few seconds, it is not ready yet.

Grass-fed beef is best when cooked medium-rare. It doesn’t have as much fat as conventional beef, so it can dry out if overcooked. Make sure to use an instant meat thermometer to get to the ideal temperature. You can check out a chart on our ButcherBox blog, Roam, with the ideal temperatures for the level of doneness you are trying to achieve.

Also, whether cooking on a gas grill or a charcoal grill, it is best to create two different heat zones. This is best done by turning down a burner or consolidating the charcoal to one side of the grill.

I like to use a reverse sear when cooking a steak. This is done by cooking on the indirect heat first — for a few minutes each side — and then sear-finishing on high heat. Doing this creates a more evenly distributed level of doneness and a nice charred crust on just about any steak.

Let the steak rest. Beef continues to cook once it is taken off of the grill. If you slice into it right away, you are likely to get a lot of the flavorful juices all over your cutting board.

Guess what? If you let your steak rest for eight to 10 minutes, those juices will evenly spread through the steak. The result is a more tender, more evenly cooked, and more flavorful hunk of beef.

You should also let chicken and pork to rest. However, they don’t continue to cook.

With a steak, take it off the grill about 5 to 10 degrees cooler than the doneness temperature you are trying to get, and you will have perfection.

Cut it the right way. This is the single biggest mistake people make, and it is the final step to getting a perfect steak.

You must slice steak against the grain.

This is true for all steaks. With certain cuts — flank, skirt, or hanger steaks, for example — if you don’t cut against the grain, you will ruin a potentially mouth-watering grass-fed steak.

Slicing against the grain breaks up the connective tissue, so each bite is as tender as the next.

What a shame it would be to marinate in a Primal Kitchen marinade overnight, let your steak sit out for a bit, get the ideal grill temperature, and let the steak rest…and then undo all that hard work by simply cutting the steak incorrectly.

Slicing your steak is also good for adding it to other dishes, like a lentil beet salad (with Primal Kitchen’s Lemon Turmeric Vinaigrette and Marinade) or a grilled peach endive salad with their Green Goddess Dressing—as I share in the video below.

Thanks to the good folks at ButcherBox for their awesome video and tips today. 

ButcherBox delivers 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef, free-range organic chicken, and heritage pork directly to your door—and shipping is always free.

I appreciate that their bacon is always uncured, free of sugar and nitrates, non-GMO-verified, hormone-free, made from pasture-raised, heritage breed pigs, AND is Whole30® approved. This is how I do bacon, and ButcherBox makes it easy.

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