A favorite meal for many people for holidays and special occasions is steak. They seem to feel that there’s nothing better than a juicy t-bone or an elegant filet mignon to make a guest feel special.
Steak Must be Cooked Exactly Right
The one thing that can ruin your steak meal is a lack of knowledge about the grill times for steak. A steak overcooked is about as tasty as a piece of rubber. A steak that’s undercooked creates panic and fear in guests for their health! You need to get the grill times for steak exactly right so the guests can stay in that holiday or special occasion mood. And once you do that, you can expect them to rave about the meal every holiday thereafter. You’ll rise to the status of an executive or even celebrity chef.
Safety is Your First Concern
Grill times for steak depend on the type of meat and the internal temperature the meat reaches to keep it safe. All types of protein foods can carry food-borne illnesses such as tapeworms. Yes, there are beef tapeworms, fish tapeworms and pork tapeworms and none of them are pleasant! For this reason, unless you’re a skilled chef who’s been specializing in grilling steaks for a minimum of daily grilling for several weeks, rely on a meat thermometer for your guests’ safety.
Beef steaks and lamb steaks should reach an internal temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit for a doneness rated rare, 145 to 150 degrees for medium doneness and 160 degrees for well-done.
Poultry is different, since it can potentially carry salmonella bacteria. Turkey steaks made from breast meat should reach an internal temperature of 155 to 160 degrees but legs and thighs need a higher temperature of 160 to 165 since they are thicker and it takes longer to cook the meat closer to the bone.
Pork steaks are similar to poultry. Pork can be contaminated with trichinosis, a tapeworm so it should never be eaten rare. The internal temperature of pork should always be a minimum of 145 to 150 degrees for medium doneness and 160 for well done. Many cooks never risk potential illness and always cook pork to an internal temperature of 160.
Fish steaks are the easiest to determine doneness; the flesh turns opaque and becomes flaky.
But How Long Do You Cook the Steak?
Grill times for steak also depend on the type of heat you’re using. If you fired up the charcoal grill or the electric or gas grill, there’s an easy way to tell if the fire is ready enough to throw the steak onto the grill. Grill times for steak depend on a hot fire that sears in the flavor of the steak. To tell if your grill is ready, simply hold your hand about five inches from the heat source. Count the number of seconds you can hold your hand there comfortably without it getting too hot.
If the number of seconds is only two to three seconds, the fire is perfect for grilling; the temperature equates to 400 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Four seconds is a medium fire, about 350 degrees, fine for higher heat indirect cooking, especially if you add wood chips to the fire to give it a smoky taste. If you can hold your hand five inches above the heat source for 5 to 6 seconds, the fire is about 250 degrees, perfect for slow cooking or barbecues. Temperatures lower than 400 degrees Fahrenheit will require longer grill times.
As you can see, knowledge is power when it comes to cooking steaks of any kind for your important meals. But what is the total steak cooking time? This is often a question asked by beginning cooks.
Steak Temperature and Thickness Affect Cooking Times
Another fact you should know is that grilling times for steak are always estimates. There are many factors that affect grilling, such as the temperature of the meat before it’s thrown on the grill and the thickness of the steak. You may have seen fancy chefs on television take steaks out of the refrigerator and stack them on a plate at room temperature before cooking. By doing this, they reduce the grill time, and allow the meat to cook properly as it should. This makes total sense, since one would never expect a frozen steak to cook on the grill as evenly as one that has been at room temperature.
The thickness of the steak also affects grilling times. This fact is also a no-brainer: the thicker the steak, the longer the time needed to bring it to the same amount of doneness as a thinner steak.
Generally speaking, a t-bone steak is grilled for 2 to 3 minutes on one side, then flipped over. The finished steak will be rare or medium rare. If you want medium doneness, add another 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side. And if you want well-done steaks, 7 to 10 minutes per side may be required.
Now that you are aware of all the factors affecting grill times for steaks, get busy! Make your best steak meal tonight and look forward to all the compliments! Listen for the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ after your guests bite into their tastiest steak ever!