Every now and again that glorious moment strikes when you see it: a sale on grass-fed steak. When, not if, opportunity strikes, pull this recipe out and enjoy a gourmet grilled steak; it’s good for the soul. I like to keep a bottle of balsamic vinegar on hand for recipes like this where a little goes a long way. I don’t mind spending a few extra bucks on a special ingredient so long as I’m able to get the most for my money.
Serves 3 or 4
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 to 2 sprigs rosemary
- 1 tsp (5 g) coarse sea salt
- ¼ cup (60 mL) balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup (60 mL) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 to 3 lb (908 g to 1.3 kg) beef steaks (whatever you can get a deal on)
- For the marinade, mince the garlic cloves and chop the fresh rosemary first, adding them to a small mixing bowl in which the marinade will be combined. Fresh rosemary has an inedible stem, so the leaves will need to be removed prior to chopping. Hold the tip of the rosemary sprig in one hand and grip the stem with the other. Drag your fingers down the stem, removing all the rosemary leaves in the process. Discard the stems and chop the leaves. A tablespoon (about 5 g) is about right for this amount of beef.
- Add the salt and vinegar to the mixing bowl. Then, while whisking, stream in the olive oil to create a well-incorporated emulsion of oil and vinegar.
- Now on to the beef. From tri-tip to rib-eye, you never know what’s going to go on sale. Thankfully, this marinade works great on anything. Put the steaks in a large resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Seal securely with limited excess air in the bag and move the steak and marinade around until the steak is evenly and completely coated. Allow to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature. Room temperature steak is not only easier to impart flavor into, but it also cooks faster and more consistently than refrigerator-temp meat.
- Preheat a seasoned grill to high or about 500°F (260°C). Lay the steaks down in a single, uncrowded layer and grill to desired doneness.
On Grilling Steaks…
Cook times will vary depending on the cut and desired doneness. However, there are a few cues to know if you are getting close. Generally, grilled meat is ready to turn when it easily lifts away from the grates. If the meat is clinging to the grill, it needs a little more time.
Thermometers obviously give an accurate read but piercing the steak to insert the thermometer will release the juices, draining the meat of moisture, which keeps it tender. There are infrared thermometers that can read temperature without disturbing the meat itself; however, they are costly, making them a less ideal choice.
Ultimately, the pressure test is the way to go. Pressing on the center of the steak to see how much resistance the meat gives can determine doneness—no purchase necessary! Hold your thumb to your pointer finger (making the “OK” symbol). Now touch the thick, fleshy portion of your thumb. As you hop from pointer to pinky, that muscle in your thumb will flex, giving you a scale on which to compare your steak. Each finger represents a point of doneness: medium-rare, medium, medium-well and well done—rare is when the thumb is held out (like you’re giving a high five) and is not flexed or touching a finger. Ideally steaks are cooked at medium-rare to medium, so if your steak matches the feeling of the meaty part of your thumb when it presses your pointer or middle finger, you’ve arrived.