A Beef Primer, and how to properly grill a T-Bone

What makes a beef steak the right kind for the grill? I get asked this quite a lot in my business, so I think a few minutes on this might help. I prefer a whole bone prime rib steak personally. I think the combination of the amount of fat, it's distribution, the flavor of the bone, the thickness of the cut (usually a bit over 2") and its actual size make it the best choice, at least for me. You can buy a "AAA" grade or USDA CHOICE for about $20.00 at most any quality butcher and while it seems expensive, my wife and I get a full meal, plus left overs from each one, and I think that's good value.

Next would be the T-Bone or Porterhouse steak, and for the same reasons as the prime rib. The price point tends to be a bit higher but this cut also has the advantage of having 2 different cuts, the strip and the loin, on the same steak, so you get two different beef experiences at the same time.

Next would be the tenderloin. I prefer this grilled as a small roast, then rested and sliced as opposed to a steak, but it also makes an excellent steak as long as it is cut at least 1 1/4" thick. The only downsides are price, usually above $28.00 per pound, and also that it is very lean and can dry out very quickly, so never cook it past medium.

Those are my personal favorites, in order, but you can't go wrong with a "AAA" New York Strip, Rib-eye or Top Sirloin either. All these cuts should be available at any decent butcher or even your local "mega-mart" or Costco, so supply should not be a problem. Just remember to season aggressively a few hours ahead, preheat your grill and let it do the work.

Now lets look at a simple commonm sense technique for grilling a T-Bone or a Whole Bone Prime Rib at home. Grilling a good t-bone really is nothing more than doing 5 key things in order.

1. start with the right T-bone. A proper T-bone for backyard grilling is at least 1 1/2” thick, but preferably 2" thick. Any thinner than that and it will overcook before you get a good crust. Look for lots of marbling and large tenderloin undercut.

2. Season it aggressively on both sides with salt and pepper about 4 hours before you want to grill. If you want it very rare, keep it in the fridge until the last minute, but if you want it medium, let it warm on the counter for the last hour.

3. A very hot BBQ, and by hot, I mean at least 600F or more. This usually takes at least 15 minutes of full on warm up time. If you want an extra boost, put an old cookie sheet over the grill for the last 5 minutes of warm up to super heat it. Oil it lightly just before putting the steak on.

4. Put your steak on the grill, close the lid and step back for 4 minutes. Lift the lid, lift the steak with tongs (never stab it!!) rotate it 45 degrees and slide it to a new hot part of the grill.

5. After 4 more minutes, lift the lid, lift the steak, flip it over and put it back where you started grilling it. After 4 more minutes, lift the lid, lift the steak and rotate it 45 degrees and slide it to a new hot part of the grill again.

That’s it…really…honest…that’s all there is to it.

If you pull that steak off the grill after 12 minutes cooking time and rest it on a warm platter for 5-6 minutes, it will be lovely and rare. That’s how my wife likes it, but you will have to adjust the timing by adding 30 seconds per cycle, even up to a minute more per cycle for medium well…

Believe it or not, that’s really all there is to it…enjoy!!