The Reason Ina Garten Used To Avoid Grilling Steaks

Cookbook author and television personality Ina Garten has managed to build a massive culinary empire, despite never actually receiving formal training as a chef (via Cheat Sheet). Over the years, Garten has whipped up a massive variety of dishes, from French staples like boeuf bourguignon to American classics like roast chicken and meatloaf. However, earlier in her career, there was one particular dish that made her wary: steak. More specifically, preparing steak on the grill. As Garten confessed on the Barefoot Contessa website, she was concerned that she would somehow get the heat and cooking of the meat wrong. Instead of getting a perfect sear on her steak, she feared, she would burn the exterior while the interior remained completely raw.

Garten isn't the only one who is a bit intimidated when it comes to grilling steaks. Many feel nervous about grilling that particular type of meat, because there are so many things that can go wrong (via The Kitchn). While Garten was concerned about her steaks getting too seared and remaining raw on the inside, many home cooks make the opposite mistake and end up failing to get any kind of crust on the exterior while overcooking the steak until it's just rubber. While some meats can cook on the grill until they're so tender they're falling off the bone, steak can go from raw to overcooked in a matter of minutes, making it a bit tricky for beginners.

Ina's method for a flawless grilled steak

Luckily, Garten has gotten over her fear of grilling steaks and has developed a foolproof method to ensure that any home cooks following her recipe get a perfect steak every time. The first part involves the steaks themselves. According to Taste of Home, Garten opts for steaks that have a thickness of 1½ inches at the very minimum. This offers a bit of insurance — thin steaks cook more quickly, which means they can go from perfectly cooked to overcooked in the blink of an eye. If you don't follow Garten's recommendation, at the very least try to get a steak that's an inch thick to set yourself up for success (via Canada Beef).

Garten also incorporates indirect heat grilling into her steak routine. This involves only lighting half of the coals on a charcoal grill, as she demonstrated in an Instagram video, but it could also mean utilizing the top rack of your gas grill for a cooler spot. Garten starts off her steak grilling process by using the piping-hot grill to get the perfect sear on both sides of her meat. Then, rather than keeping the steak in the same spot and risking overcooking it, she moves it to the cooler portion of the grill and closes the grill to keep the heat circulating. According to The Spruce Eats, while this method is slower, it makes for a more evenly cooked steak with less risk of burning.