The Steak Grilling Mistake That Will Terrorize Taste Buds

When you're grilling a steak outdoors, there are many pitfalls to watch out for, up to and including bugs that get stuck in the barbecue sauce or hot coals that fall on the grass and ignite a small brush fire. On the less drastic side, it's also fairly easy to mess up and overcook the steak. One way to mitigate such a risk is to choose the proper cut of meat; starting with the wrong kind is a huge mistake from the very start.

Mashed spoke with several chefs on the topic of steak-grilling mistakes, and one of the best pieces of advice they had to offer was to be sure to choose a nice thick piece of meat. According to Joy Beber, the eponymous co-owner of Atlanta's Joy Cafe, "A thick cut allows for control and for the fire to infuse more flavor." Beber also notes that more meat equals more wiggle room, since thicker steaks take longer to burn.

Frederic Delaire, who works as executive chef at Loews Miami Beach Hotel, feels it's also important to look for a steak with some fat and advises that you don't trim it off. "Always leave some fat and it will melt during cooking," the chef urges, explaining that this will "give great flavor to the meat."

One prime cut of steak doesn't belong on a barbecue

While Frederic Delaire is a fan of using more expensive meat on the grill, the advice to choose a well-marbled cut can apply even if you're on a budget — some of the cheaper steaks you should buy for grilling include blade chuck, tri-tip, and flat iron, since these all have sufficient fat to cook up nice and tasty. In fact, lack of fat is what disqualifies one particularly pricey piece of meat from being a good grilling candidate. According to another chef, Michael Ollier of the Certified Angus Beef brand, you should think twice before making filet mignon on the grill.

As Ollier explains to Mashed, "Filet is a lean cut, [while] great grilling steaks have enough fat that renders and drips onto the coals" (or something called the "Flavorizer bar," if you're using a gas grill). It's the smoke produced by the dripping fat that makes grilled meat taste so good, so less fat means less smoke and less flavor. If you have a filet mignon all thawed and ready to go, Ollier advises that you save the grill for another occasion and instead pan-sear this more delicate meat and serve it up in a buttery sauce.