A restaurant-quality steak is possible for anyone to cook at home but restaurant chefs don’t simply throw steaks on the grill and hope for the best. They learned how to prep a steak! For the perfect steak be sure to never skip these steps to prep a steak for the grill.
The following tips are time-tested by us and many grill masters to cook high quality steaks. Proper preparation is key to success in many areas and grilling steaks should be no different!
Follow below for how to prep a steak like a grilling pro.
Take the Chill Off
This critical preparation step is one of the most often skipped (next to not resting the steaks!) but can easily lead to a subpar quality steak dinner. The good news is that the problem and solution to this steak preparation tip are simple.
A cold steak takes longer to cook. The longer a steak is on the grill or stovetop, the tougher the meat becomes. To achieve a tender, evenly cooked steak (or any red meat for that matter) you must “take the chill off” before cooking.
“Taking the chill off” refers to getting the meat from the cold temperatures of a refrigerator (the “chill”) closer to room temperature before grilling. To do this, remove the steaks from the refrigerator, cover them, and allow them to sit at room temperature for 20 – 30 minutes before cooking.
Adding this step to your steak routine will decrease cook time leaving the meat more tender. Also, it will lead to a much more flavorful and evenly cooked steak.
Butter or Oil
In the not so distant past while experimenting to cook the perfect steak for our family, I asked a few chef friends for their advice. What’s the secret to getting a restaurant quality steak at home? Was there a special sauce? One word was first of mind across the group, among other pieces of advice to cooking the perfect steak which you can read here.
Butter. Like almost any good recipe, butter plays an important role in preparing to cook the perfect steak. We think of butter as often mixed into most cooking such as baking, griddle foods, and isn’t widely associated with grilling proteins. The chefs I spoke to all agree, if you want a restaurant quality steak at home, butter can help you on the grilling journey.
Before seasoning, I prefer to gently spread butter with a butter knife to the surface of the steak before grilling. Another method is to melt some butter and rub it on. Just remember to not over do it! Too much butter can cause flare-ups and leave behind a burnt taste.
If butter isn’t your thing or your doctor would frown upon the above grilling advice, olive oil is a good substitute. The same guidelines apply as butter, don’t over do it and cause flare-ups or grease fires on the grill.
Let’s start by saying there are endless opinions on how proteins should be seasoned. Rightfully so! Everyone has different tastes and filled their spice cabinets to match what they personally like. Nothing wrong with that and we advise you to do the same. Feel free to experiment with different amounts and spices to find what works best for you. Below we offer a few loose rules to help you find the right seasoning method for your style.
A few quick guidelines to keep in mind:
- Avoid using too much seasoning. Like grandma used to say: it’s easier to add more than to remove.
- Start with very few spices and add one at a time. Try using just 2-3 spices then add spices as you find what you like.
- Don’t apply salt too early. Salt starts the curing process in meat which can reduce moisture and dry the steak if done incorrectly or unintentionally. Don’t add salt more than 1 hour before cooking.
Salt & Pepper – are a staple of the steak seasoning world. So much so that most chefs only use salt and pepper to season their steaks and nothing else! There are countless “cook the perfect steak” articles that only instruct readers to use these base spices. Folks in this camp, and there are plenty, are focused on the natural meat flavor. Salt and pepper when applied in moderation allow for the natural, savory flavors of the steak to shine. For the grilling minimalists out there, salt and pepper alone is the perfect steak seasoning.
In our opinion, the perfect steak seasoning is salt, fresh pepper, garlic, and a few pinches of Montreal Steak Seasoning. We recommend adding the seasoning mix while taking the chill off so it sits for 20-30 minutes before grilling.
Looking for all the steps to cook a restaurant quality steak? Check out our complete guide on how to cook the perfect steak here.