The sight and aroma of a steak sizzling over a bed of glowing coals may be grilling’s cornerstone. In fact, many knowledgeable cooks insist there’s no better way to cook most cuts of beef than over a smoky fire.
Steaks for the Grill
The best cuts for grilling come from the short loin, sirloin, and rib sections. Other cuts, such as flank, skirt, and hanger steaks, can also be grilled successfully, but usually need a marinade to make them tender. Brisket, on the other hand, needs long, slow cooking to make it tender.
Ground Meat for the Grill
Don't skimp on the fat when choosing ground beef for your burgers. The right amount of fat-to-meat ratio will create juicy, flavorful burgers that hold together on the grill. Look for ground chuck with 20 percent fat when selecting ground beef. You can also find a chuck steak with a similar fat percentage, and ask the butcher to grind it for you. Better still, grind it yourself at home just before grilling.
Roasts for the Grill
Look for well-trimmed external fat and a good amount of internal marbling when shopping for roasts. The meat should appear slightly moist and have an even red color. Smell the meat to make sure that it has a clean, fresh aroma with no off odor. Most large cuts will appear fine-grained, with the exception of brisket and tri-tip, which have a more coarse muscle grain.
Preparing Beef for Grilling
Trim off most of the external fat prior to cooking beef. Internal fat or marbling promotes tenderness and flavor, but external fat causes flare-ups as it melts and drips into the fire.
A generous sprinkling of kosher salt will bring out the true flavor of beef and keep it nice and juicy.
Temperature Testing for Doneness
Insert an instant-read thermometer horizontally into the center of the steak. Be sure not to touch any bone, which could skew the reading.
For specific temperatures, please refer to our Meat Guide. For hamburgers, cook at least to medium (145°), and many health experts say it’s smart to cook them to at least medium-well (160°).
Visually Testing for Doneness
Judge the doneness of grilled beef visually by cutting into the thickest part. Rare beef will look reddish in the center, and medium will have a trace of pink. Cooking beef beyond medium causes it to dry out and become tough.
Carry Over Cooking
All beef should rest for 3 to 15 minutes after grilling, depending on size, to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. The internal temperature could rise as much as 5° to 10° as the meat sits, depending on size. Keep this in mind, and remove beef from the grill when it is 5° to 10° shy of the desired temperature. You can always cook beef a little more, if needed.