I basically don't eat steak out anymore. It's just... I can make it better, reliably.

Quick guide: Sear :30/:30; Near heat: 3/3m Smoke 1.5/1.5, Sear :30/:30, Rest 3


I only buy the "Natural" (no antibiotics, grass fed, grain finished) prime, bone-in delmonico (ribeye) steak from Canales Quality Meats in Eastern Market here in DC. Grass fed beef is much leaner than grain, but with an amazing taste - and, it's better for you, with a much better balance of Omega fatty acids. Get the most marbled cut you can find, but realize that it'll still be about half as marbled as a grain-fed steak. And for the love of all things tasty, get the bone in.


Up to four days ahead, but ideally at least 24 hours, rinse the steak and pat dry. Wrap in cheesecloth (~1 layer per day). Place it on a rack in the top back of your fridge. This is an at-home method to dry-age your cut, and it tenderizes the meat and deepens the flavor. Watch a video on the technique here: . Vary the smoke/indirect heat time by the aging length - the more aged the meat, the closer to 1.5mins/side you want. For a steak you bought today, I'd move that to 2-3 mins/side.

Two hours before you're going to put it on the grill, take it out and unwrap the steak. Plop it down on some waxed paper and salt both sides (I like using a bit of alderwood smoked salt and some kosher salt, about a teaspoon or two per side). Let it sit - it will juice and then re-absorb, bringing in the smoke and salt flavors deep into the meat.

About 15 minutes before grill-time, I like to add my seasoning. It's mostly salt and pepper, with some smoke salt, and hints of paprika, garlic powder, and a few other secret ingredients. Make your own, evolve it over time. It's important to mainly keep it simple and stick to salt-and-pepper here. Freshly cracked black pepper helps as well.

Grill Supplies

First, let's talk coals. First, dispose properly of that bottle of lighter fluid, and invest in a chimney. This lets you light your coals without any effort, every time - and you never get that lighter fluid after-taste. One chimney costs about 3 lighter fluid bottles - just do it.

Second, you don't need pre-lighter-fluid briquets any more. Get some lump hardwood coals. These bring in more wood flavor and, well, aren't made from random sawdust. While you're at it, you'll want some smoking chips - I like mesquite. You'll want to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before use.


Get your grill hot. You'll want a direct heat area, an indirect heat area, and a completely indirect heat warming area. I use directly above the coals for direct, off-but-near for indirect, and the top warming rack far away from the coals for very-indirect, your grilling setup may vary. I find that a quick sear (your grill was hot, right?) on each side for 30 seconds is a good start-off. I know the science says that searing doesn't lock in juiciness, but it does give a nice kickstart to a good caramelized crust.

Then move it to the near but indirect heat, with the bone facing the coals. Let it cook here for 3 minutes per side, adding your smoking chips before the first and the flip. This is a good time to cook something else over the direct heat, but keep the grill closed to maximize the smoke and internal ambient heat. Steak grillers will also complain about the number of flips. Ignore them.

Next, move it to the very-indirect heat, hopefully near the top of the internal grill space. This will bake it just a bit longer at a lower temperature. Grass-fed steaks are tougher, and this last bit, while it takes it into the medium range of doneness, vastly improves the tenderness and overall taste. Add more smoking chips, and let it go for another 3 minutes, this is a hot rest. For well-aged steaks, cut this down to as little as 1.5 mins/side.

Raise your coal bed or lower your grill surface closer to the coals in preparation for the final sear.

Finally, give it last sear directly over the heat, another 30 seconds per side. This will finish your crust and give it a nice blackened look, as well as take it into the rest stage.


Plop your steak down on a cutting board, ideally with channels to catch the juice. Let it rest for at least 5 minutes. This allows the meat to better re-absorb the juices and finish cooking just a tad bit.


Serve with a warm crusty baguette heated up on the grilltop and a sharp but complex Argentine Malbec - we love the affordable La Finca for an everyday occasion, or a Felino for fancier ones. Some grilled spring onion or mushrooms sauteed in red wine always goes well.

Aged steak
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