I am such a mess sometimes.
Yesterday I treated myself to a steak. This was the first steak I’d ever made for myself, so I spent the morning looking online and through several of my cookbooks, hoping to get my steak just right. I wanted to learn the perfect marinade, the precise cooking time, and how to get the steak done at the ideal temperature.
The best steak, I learned, should be cooked until medium-rare. According to the finger-method,this happens when the feel of the steak approximates the feel of your index finger pressed into your slightly clenched palm. According to the meat thermometer, this happens anywhere from 145 degrees to 125 degrees — depending on whom you ask. Cooking Light’s Grilling, and Steven Raichlen’s How to Grill call medium-rare at 145 degrees. But in James Patterson’s Cooking, it’s 125 degrees, while an online source says it is between 130 and 135 degrees. For what it’s worth, the U.S.D.A. recommends that steaks be cooked until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees. The lower temperatures may reflect the willingness to sacrifice absolute food safety in the name of greater flavor and tenderness. Fortunately, Peterson and Raichlen both ascribe to the finger-poke method, so I may try to become comfortable with that method.
But for my first grilled steak, I decided that I should play it by the numbers, and settled on 145.
I grabbed the steak, a little oil for greasing the grills, a set of tongs, and my trusty digital thermometer, and headed downstairs. After a few minutes of warming up, the grill was roaring at 500 degrees. I threw my steak on the grills, delighted in that signature sizzle, and set the timer on my phone for three minutes. Six minutes later, I opened the grill and readied my instant-read thermometer. The steak was very close to the edge of the grill, so I decided to simply stick the thermometer in while the steak was on the grill. This made a lot of sense, I reasoned. If the steak was still not done, it was still right there on the grill; I wouldn’t have to take it off, test it, and then put it back on the grill. I knew the thermometer was made of plastic, but it would fine since the plastic head protruded just beyond the grill’s heat points.
Sure enough, the first reading came in at 140 degrees. Perfect, I thought. It only needs another minute; I’ll just leave the thermometer in, and watch the temperature rise to 145 degrees. And that’s just what I did. I leaned over and fixed my gaze on the digital read-out. 141 degrees, 142 degrees, 143 degrees, 144 degrees, and . . . ARGH! As I pulled the thermometer out, the plastic head completely detached from the metal rod. The underside of the head was completely melted. I had completely ruined my thermometer – which made my steak a little more expensive. I am such a mess sometimes!
How was the steak? Probably more towards medium than medium rare, but it was definitely delicious!
New York Strip Steak with Asparagus.
PREP TIME: 5 minutes
DOWN TIME: 2 hours for marinating
COOK TIME: 10 minutes
YIELD: Serves 2
WHAT TO GRAB:
1 pound strip steak
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce (I like low-sodium)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Juice of one lime
1 pound asparagus spears
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. Throw the steak in a plastic bag with the olive oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, and lime juice. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Marinate the steak in the refrigerator for two hours. After two hours, remove the steak and allow it to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. (Raichlen says not to worry about letting the steak sit at room temperature. Peterson, however, recommends you let it sit for over an hour at room temperature).
2. Heat the grill to high heat and lightly oil the grills. Before putting the steak on the grill, pat it dry. Lay the steak at a 45 degree angle to the grills. Grill the steaks for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, with the grill covered. For beautiful grill marks, rotate the steaks 90 degrees, mid-way through cooking the first side.
3. Remove the steak from the grill, and wrap the meat in two layers of aluminum foil. Allow the meat to rest in the foil for 10 to 15 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain, and at a slight angle. Toss the meat with the juice left in the foil.
4. Toss the asparagus with the oil, salt, and pepper, and mix well. Grill over high heat for about 5 minutes, turning the spears mid-way through the cooking time.
5. Serve the asparagus and strip steak together. Garnish with grilled corn!