(Cheap Bastid’s note: I know, Torman did a post on grilling steak recently so I held off on this until we got to the Foodie Tuesday closest to Memorial Day. I hope you enjoy).
Memorial Day is the first 3 day weekend of the summer. Time for neighbors getting together and stoking up the grill. One of the things I do like about living here in Southern California is the ability to grill pretty much year round.Back when my kids were young, we lived in a neighborhood in the small town of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Summer holidays were always the perfect time to do what we called an “Alley Cats Picnic” in someone’s back yard inviting the families and all the kids who lived on our paved alley to party and enjoy. We would make shared dishes and bring our own meats and have a couple of grills going.
The kids would run around and have a good time and the adults would visit and laugh and play with the kids. And, lots of good food would be eaten.
But, this is a Cheap Bastid post on grilling sirloin. Now, sirloin is a pretty lean piece of meat so you generally don’t want to overcook it. It also works pretty well marinaded. I cook with it because, quite frankly, my favorite cut of steak—flank steak—as well as my other favorites, rib-eye and New York strip are just getting too expensive to buy. I have a hard time justifying $6 or more per pound for any food. So, I stock up on sirloin when it’s on special at the grocery store (a few times a year they’ll have it at $1.99) and then freeze it in about 1 ½ pound packages in freezer bags.
It’s really pretty simple. Thaw out your steak (skip this if it hasn’t been frozen). I like my sirloin to be at least an inch thick—preferably 1 ¼ to 1 ½ inches. Then put a really thin skim of cooking oil on the surface—just drizzle a few drops on each side and rub it with your fingers.
Then season your meat—it doesn’t come off the cow seasoned so adding a bit of flavor really makes a difference. Here’s a rub will add some good flavor to the meat. I’ve gotten to the point where I keep a big shaker on hand all the time of coarse Kosher salt, dried garlic chips and coarse ground black pepper (mixed in equal quantity). You get a bit of heat from the cracked pepper, flavor and aroma from the garlic and the coarse salt melts into the meat. Shake it pretty liberally over the sirloins and then pat it into the surface with your fingertips. Then let the meat sit for a few minutes while you get your grill ready.
Build a hot fire. If you’re using propane like I do or if you’re using charcoal, get yourself a nice hot fire going. The fire is ready when you can only hold your hand over the grill for about 3 or 4 seconds before it gets too hot. Now you’re ready for your meat. Put your meat on the grill directly over the heat. Now, close the lid. Leave it alone.
I’ve conditioned myself to cook based on time. I put the meat down. Personally, I time it for 3 minutes. Then I flip it. DO NOT, EVER use a meat fork. Use tongs. Or even a spatula. Stabbing a hunk of meat with a meat fork only lets the juices drain out, drying out the meat. What happens if the meat sticks to the grill? Don’t force it. Give it another minute. The meat will let go of the grill when it’s ready. Cooking, even caveman grilling over open flame, is chemistry. Flip the meat and let the other side have a shot at cooking. You should have some nice, sexy grill marks on the steaks you just flipped.
Cook the meat another 3 minutes. Now you’ve got some decisions to make. If you want a rare steak, you should be there. If you want it medium rare, give your meat about 2 more minutes per side. For medium to well done steak, put the meat on a cooler portion of the grill and let it roast so that the juices stay sealed in and it continues to cook. Medium should take about another 4 or so minutes per side and well done around 5 or 6.
But hey, your cooking times are going to set by how many BTUs your grill throws out. Know your equipment and how it reacts to different air temperatures and humidity. The only way to really learn it is to have done what I have done on more than one occasion—you have to have cremated some perfectly good meat and then had to chew the hell out of it soaked in A-1 to give it any moistness at all just to be able to choke it down. Like Tom Colicchio says when someone over cooks meat, “It was already dead and he killed it again.”
Then, take the meat off the grill and let it rest. All that cooking makes it tired. Let it rest for at least 5 minutes if not 8-10. That lets the juices settle back into the meat fibers. If you cut into it too soon, all the juices will run out and it'll get dry and tough.
Corn on the Cob: I love fresh roasted corn on the cob. California’s the only place I’ve ever been where people stand in the store and shuck their corn over a big garbage can set next to the display of corn on the cob.
I like to butter the corn then roll it up in foil before putting it on the grill. It takes about 10 or 12 minutes to get it fully roasted. And it’s tasty and buttery with a bit of roasted flavor from the grill.
And here’s a tip I came across not long ago that really works. To get those stray corn silks off the cob, take a rubber band and stretch it between your thumb and index finger. The roll the rubber band down the cob. It strips the silk right off without having to use a brush or your fingertips to pick them off.
The Cheap Bastid Test: There’s just nothing better than a good piece of well cooked meat shared with someone you love. This steak cost $1.99 a pound. The corn on the cob cost $.20 per ear. So we ate for $3.40. That’s a lot cheaper than any steak house I know of.
Oh, by the way--I LOVE to take a crust of bread and sop up the drippiings from the platter! Man, that's tasty! My Dad always called me a "gravy sopper"!
Cheap Bastid’s Tips on Cleaning Your Grill:
Start with a clean grill! Use a brush on a hot grill to get the crud off it (brass bristle that you can buy in the paint department of Home Depot, Lowe’s or WalMart works great and is cheaper).
One of the things that Bobby Flay says constantly is to oil the food not the grill. Rub a thin skim of oil onto your food with your fingers or a brush.
If you want to oil your grill, take a paper towel and fold it into 4ths, drizzle a couple of teaspoons of oil on it, fold it one more time and then use your long handled brush to rub the oiled paper towel rapidly over the grill. (Be quick, I’ve burned up a bunch of oily paper towels in my day). Then let your grill continue to heat and start cooking.
Just make sure that your grill is hot and clean. The main reason people oil their grill is to keep food from sticking. If your food is sticking, it’s because it’s not ready to be turned yet. Wait another 30 seconds or minute and try again. When it’s ready to turn, it will release! I can’t tell you the number of hamburgers I’ve demolished trying to flip them too soon until I learned to just wait another 30 seconds to minute and try again. (If it’s burned when you flip it that means you’re using too much heat).
That's the Cheap Bastid Way: Eat Good! Eat Cheap! Be Grateful!