It’s easy math: Friends + sunshine + steaks on the grill = A perfect cottage weekend. Unless you mess up the steak part. Which won’t happen, if you follow these 10 commandments from the experts at Cottage Life and Muskoka Brewery.
1. Buy the best. In the steak world, grade and age are the difference between tough and tender. In Canada, that means grade AAA or Prime. Steaks are often aged just 4-16 days, but 21-28 days—or more—is better. If it’s not on the label, ask your meat person.
2. If you’re feeding a crowd, don’t buy individual steaks for the whole mob. Instead, grill a few really big steaks, to slice and share on a platter. It looks great and can save you a car payment.
3. Before cooking, bring your steaks to room temperature, rub with a tiny bit of oil, and season generously. The oil delivers the flavour of your spices into the meat.
4. Unless you like grey meat and burnt sugar, avoid marinades. If you must marinate, wipe away excess liquid before grilling. Serve sauces on the side.
5. Searing and browning are good. Steaks burnt black by greasy flames, bad. Keep the temperature under control and avoid the hot spots on your grill.
6. Sear your steaks on a hot, clean grill. After 2–3 minutes, rotate the meat 90° for grill marks, and cook for 2–3 minutes more. A skinny steak might be done right now. Big, thick steaks will need more cooking, but not over the flame. Once they’re beautifully browned, switch to indirect grilling. (See Commandment #8.)
7. Do not leave steaks unattended. This is serious business. That GoPro kiteboarding shoot will have to wait until dinner is done. Appoint a Hydration Assistant to deliver cold beer to the cook.
8. Thermal inertia will cook steaks a bit more off the heat, so pull them from the grill when they’re just shy of done.
9. Let ’em rest. Meat tenses up and contracts when it’s hot, squeezing delicious juices away from the centre. Give your steaks five minutes to relax.
10. Up your game with off-the-hook toppings. Try grilled thick slices of Vidalia Onion, sautéed fancy mushrooms, a short skewer of grilled shrimp or some crumbled Roquefort cheese.