Fact: we’re all going to be spending a lot more time at home this summer.
If you’re lucky enough to have outdoor space, you’ve probably already started upgrading your home for the season. But among the potted plants, outdoor pillows, and string lights, there’s another thing many of us have added to our patios: a barbecue.
Breaking out the BBQ isn’t just a fun excuse to (safely) get your bubble of close family and friends together. Many cooks swear that grilled food actually tastes better — you just need to know a few tips and tricks to prep your meals to perfection.
To turn you from grill newbie to grill master, we asked the experts at Canada Beef for their best advice (when it comes to grilling steaks, of course). From how to buy, to how to cook, here’s what we learned.
Meat is often the centrepiece of your barbecue, so you want to get it right to anchor the rest of your meal. If you’re looking to get the best bang for your buck, don’t think ‘steak per person’ when buying. Instead, try cooking one larger steak to slice and serve. This lets you focus your cooking efforts (and your dollars) in one place.
Meat is also a good investment for your money – nutritionally. Beef, for example, is nutrient-dense and packed with protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins, so you only need to eat a little to feel full and satisfied. This also leaves you with lots of room to play with sides (as a common rule, think 1/4 plate protein, 1/4 plate whole grains, and 1/2 plate veggies). As a bonus, eating meat lets you more easily absorb iron from plant sources — by a whopping 150%. Known as the ‘Meat Factor,’ eating beans will benefit from having even just a bit of meat added to the plate.
Making the cut
As iconic as it is to cook a T-bone on your BBQ in the heat of summer, you’ve got plenty of options when it comes to the cut of beef you enjoy. Beyond rib eye and sirloin, think bavette, petite tender, culotte, or skirt steak.
While all are equally delicious in their own right, for grilling, your best bet is to look for labels that say grilling or marinating steak. Grilling steaks include the usual suspects like tenderloin and T-bone, but also some less pricey items like top sirloin cap (aka culotte) and sirloin tip. Marinating steaks are often some of the most flavourful cuts – think skirt steak (a fav for fajitas) or the ever-popular and ever-lean flank steak.
Still not sure what cut to pick? Check out The RoundUp app, which contains expert advice on how to buy and cook beef.
Let’s get one thing clear right away: cooking beef isn’t difficult, and there are many ways to “set it and forget it.” It makes sense then that if you can master a few BBQ rules, they’ll carry you through most recipes you encounter.
First, when cooking a steak, don’t worry about those fussy diamond grill marks. Flipping at least twice will give you a more even doneness throughout, but beyond that, just let them go – watching for any flair ups of course!
Second, you can put your steaks on the grill as soon as you like — there’s no need to wait for them to reach room temperature.
Third, you don’t have to shy away from seasonings! A simple salt and pepper is really all you need to make a great steak taste its best. But beef can hold its own against stronger flavours, too, and still shine through — unlike tofu or chicken. Red pepper flakes, rosemary, chimichurri, and compound butters — all can add to the flavour of your dish.
While there’s a myth that seasoning steaks before you put them on the grill can make them dry, this isn’t true. In fact, adding seasoning before hitting the BBQ can enhance the flavour better than if you season post-cook. That said, garnishing your finished product with an extra crack of freshly ground pepper and Maldon salt will look great on the ‘gram.
Canada Beef has put together a comprehensive set of grilling tips if you want to continue your master chef education.
Mastering the grill
Once you’ve got the grilling basics down pat, you’ve opened yourself up to a world of recipes that you and your guests can explore. One of the most impressive dishes (and something we’re sorely missing from restaurants right now) is surf ‘n’ turf, which describes a main course that pairs seafood and meat. A great recipe for beginners is this Strip Loin Surf and Turf, combining grilled beef steak and shrimp in an elegant meal ready in under 30 minutes.
Feeling a little more snackish? This recipe for Beef Steak Dippables is basically a protein-packed version of fondue that will fuel the rest of the afternoon’s activities.
You can find more grill recipe inspiration — such as mini inside-out cheeseburgers and grilled beef burritos — here.
When it comes to grilling, the world really is your oyster (or flat iron steak).
Feeling ready to tie on the apron and turn up the heat? You can learn more about the best beef products, new recipes, and proper grilling techniques by visiting the Canada Beef website.