Beefsteaks are popular grill-fare for summer meals, from juicy rib-eyes to porterhouses to strip steaks. Great cuts of meat often come with great prices. Splurge if you can, but if you’re on a budget, we have the goods on three cuts of meat done three ways that won’t blow the budget.
You will find these cuts at most grocery stores, meat stores and some warehouse club stores. If you don’t see them, ask the meat cutter for them.
This relatively newer cut of meat is cut from the top blade or chuck roast. Meat researchers found that if they cut the gristle away from the center of the roast, they would end up with this tender cut.
You may see it labeled as chuck steak or top blade steak. Most stores sell flat iron steaks for $5-$5.99 a pound. The whole steak averages 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 pounds.
Flat iron steak is best cooked medium-rare, but may be cooked to medium without sacrificing flavor or tenderness.
The Santa Maria, Calif., region claims to have discovered this cut of meat along with its style of seasoning used for grilling. Sold whole it looks like a roast that is about 3 inches thick at its thickest end and tapers to a thinner end. It’s cut from the butt portion of the bottom sirloin.
You can buy it already cut into steaks or whole as a roast. Either one is super for the grill as tri-tip is tender and flavorful when cooked medium-rare.
Skirt or hanger steak
This is often a chewier cut but has a great beef flavor. This cut is found in the middle belly side of the animal and at the edge of the loin. It’s sold in long pieces about 1/2-inch thick. Unless you are making fajitas, don’t buy too thin a piece. The thicker and longer pieces are best for the grill.
To tenderize and prevent them from being too chewy, skirt steaks need to be marinated at least 8 hours. Because these are thinner, they grill rather quickly. Skirt steak takes well to any seasoning and marinade and runs about $3.99 a pound. Look for them at most grocery stores and Hispanic markets.
At Morton’s the Steakhouse in Troy, Mich., steaks sizzle on a grill that reaches a temperature of 800 to 900 degrees. Factor in the radiant broiler, with elements that heat the top and the grill as well, and you get a steak with a nice seared crust and a juicy inside. With a grilling element that hot, executive chef Ed Takacs says, they can get a 2- to 3-inch steak done in less than 15 minutes.
That’s 100 to 200 degrees hotter than most home grills, but Takacs says you can achieve the same results with steaks at home, as long as you do it the correct way.
For starters, choose a good piece of meat.
“It doesn’t have to be pricey; just make sure it has good marbling, especially when grilling outside,” he says. “A bone-in steak will taste better because once the bone gets cooked the marrow releases flavor.”
Check the color of the steaks, too: They should be a nice red — not a dark red — and have creamy white marbling. The steaks should be at least 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick.
And don’t forget: If you’re going to toss some steaks on the grill, it’s just as easy to grill some vegetables along with them. Toss vegetables that are cut large and thick with some olive oil and season with salt, pepper and garlic.
Here are Takacs’ tips for grilling perfect steaks:
Bring steaks to room temperature before grilling.
Make sure the grill is seasoned well. Oil it down and then preheat the grill.
Heat the grill to 600 to 800 degrees. “The hotter the better for searing the outside of the steak,” he says.
Season the meat a little more than you would normally, because some seasoning will cook away.
Once the grill is heated, put the steaks on. They should sizzle. If you don’t hear the sizzle, the grill is not hot enough. Pull the steaks off immediately and wait for the grill to heat up more.
Use the touch factor to judge doneness. A rare steak should feel spongy and give a little bit of resistance — similar to the feeling of squeezing the pad at the base of your thumb.
For medium-rare, Takacs says, the steak should be less spongy and offer more resistance, as when you press the very bottom of your palm.
For steaks cooked medium, the meat should feel like the middle of your palm on an outstretched hand.
“The steak itself should feel firm yet snap back quickly and give some resistance,” says Takacs. “At Morton’s we don’t recommend anything over medium, because the longer you cook them, the more moisture it will release.”
If you feel resistance when turning the steak and it’s clinging to the grill, don’t turn it. It’s not ready. The steak should easily come away from the grill grates when it’s ready to turn.
Use long tongs or a spatula and never use a fork to pierce or turn the steak.
; Keep the grill lid closed — the hotter it stays, the better.
Let the steaks rest 5 to 8 minutes after grilling and before slicing after they come off the grill so the juices settle down in the steak.