Q & A with the Gridiron Chef: Steak 101 (World Famous Recipe Inside!)


Welcome back, tailgating fans, to another edition of Q & A with the Gridiron Chef, Jeff “Doc” Dockeray.

We’ve had a great response so far to this column, and many of you have written in asking a wide range of questions, which I have grouped together into like topics.  This week’s topic – STEAK!  Let’s jump right in…

Mike:  Doc, we’ve had several questions about cuts of steak.  Which one is best, cheapest, quickest to cook, etc.  So, is there a cut of beef you recommend?

Doc:  If I am visiting a traditional steakhouse for a steak and potato meal, my “go-to” for sure is a rib eye, preferable bone-in. I like it light pink with plenty of marbling. I like it well seasoned (course pepper and sea salt), charred “Chicago-style” to medium-rare.

Best accompaniments – shitake mushrooms with roasted garlic, Potatoes Romanoff and creamed Spinach with black truffle.

My favorite steak house for a night-out is the Strip House in Las Vegas. Executive Chef John Schenk dry-ages his beef and does it as good as anyone on the planet. A few Crown and Ginger, a bottle Pinot Noir, assorted gourmet breads, apps like soft breadsticks in gorgonzola sauce, incredible marinated beef jerky (yes beef jerky, but not like you thought) and the above steak, potato and veg…..add a good Cuban Cigar and you put the barrel of the gun to my brain stem and…….

Mike:  When grilling streak, do you marinate ahead of time? If so, how long before grilling time?

Depends on the cut. Most cuts don’t necessarily need marinating, but alcohol (wine or beer) or a liquid with high acidity loves steak. If you want extra flavor for a traditional striploin, or New York cut, I like to marinate with some pureed garlic and some red wine (not cooking wine), say a peppery cabernet, merlot or shiraz. I would not marinate more than a few hours. After removing from marinade, you must pat the steak until dry, or the meat can be gummy on the grill.

There are sauces to top your succulent steak off– red wine and cream sauces “are a plenty”, but we’ll cover that another time.

Mike:  What is the best way to keep juices in after steak is done?

Great question. First off, steak should be measured by temperature. There are other methods (i.e. variations of the finger test), but whether you consider medium 140 or 145 degrees, a good thermometer doesn’t lie.

If you have a pal who likes it well done, tell them to eat old shoe leather. Why have the juices and all of its flavor cooked out, with the consistency of piece of shrunken dry muscle? It makes no sense whatsoever. If you have a problem with “red” meat, eat chicken.

Some tips:

  1. Start with a well seasoned steak; grill it with hardwood charcoal bringing the temp up to min. 500 degrees (hand held 1 foot about grill with a count of 3) before grilling the steak
  2. Clean the grill when hot, then oil your grill with a little veggie oil (3 oz. with a folded paper towel, using your tongs)
  3. Sear your steak 2 minutes per side on high heat to get a nice crust, then move the steak to off-heat, covering the grill. (Traditional steakhouses sear the steak first to get a slight char from salt and pepper, the move to a salamander to broil the rest of the way). This is the closest way to emulate that.
  4. If you want your steak at 140 degrees, take it off the grill at 130-135. The meat temp will continue rising for awhile after you take it off the grill
  5. Wrap it or cover it with tin foil, and LET IT REST. Any steak that is cut into (regardless of cut of meat) immediately after grilling will lose all of its moisture as juices will explode out of it). So let your meat relaaaaaxxxxx!
Mike:  Do you prefer grilling steak with propane or charcoal?

Doc:  Depends on the apparatus and the cut of meat. All in all I do prefer hardwood charcoal, started in a chimney starter. For one, hardwood has a great flavor, and does not have the preservatives and binders that most briquette charcoal has, and using a chimney starter has me avoiding lighter fluid – which can leave a residue and aroma on your meat.

Mike:  What is your go-to cut off beef for game day?

Doc:  If at home, I use a recipe that I have had featured in many publications, including USA Today, as a Super Bowl Sunday staple.

It’s a marinated flank steak; an untraditional cut that used to be extremely affordable. But now, like other untraditional cuts like skirt steak and tri-tip, it’s not as affordable as it used to be as home consumers have learned that its extremely flavorful once you know that it needs a little extra love.

Now, its crucial to remember that’s there more to a good a good steak than tenderness. Looking at both ends of the spectrum. Tenderloin is like “butta” if done right…but a high muscle meat like slow cooked brisket – if done right is like “butta” x 10.

Rule of thumb: the more tender a cut is off the rack, the less flavorful. That’s why you see many tenderloin cuts wrapped in bacon, or fatty sauces added. Needs flavor!

I marinate my flank steak with Sherry, fresh garlic and good soya sauce. It’s a “beaut!”

Mike:  Okay, so a personal question – have shied away from flank because of it’s tough-to-work-with image, can I get a recipe out of you?

Doc:   If you insist – Blacktop Flank Recipe below. But before I go;

Keep the drinks cold, the grill hot, and we’ll see you in the parking lot!

Remember, to listen to nightly (8-10pm) NFL Fan show, Beyond the Field with Priest and St. Peter on The Tailgate Radio Network on LIVE365. You can also get the show live at BTFRadio.com.  On Thursdays, we drop some award-winning recipes on ya to get ready for the tailgate weekend ahead. All in all, this is the best “all things NFL” show on the web. 

And now for the recipe…

Doc’s Fab Flank Steak

Per  Piece  of  Flank  –  approx.  1.5  to  2  Lbs.  –  serves  4-­‐5  
Preparation  Day  Before:  
With  a  sharp  butcher  knife,  score  each  side  of  flank  1cm  deep    
(Diamond-­‐cut  as  seen  above)  
In  a  Ziploc  freezer  bag,  add:  
• 6  oz.  of  Soy  Sauce,  
• 6  oz.  of  Canadian/California  Sherry  (not  Cooking  Sherry)  
• 6  chopped  cloves  of  garlic  
• Roll  meat  and  add  to  bag  of  marinade;  Burp  air  out,  then  seal  bag  tight  
• Refrigerate  overnight;  Flip  bag  in  the  morning  
• Bring  to  room  temp  1/2  hour  before  cooking  
Serving  Day  
• Heat  your  Grill  to  400  degrees  
• Remove  meat  from  bag  to  a  clean  cutting  board  
• Pour  marinade  into  a  small  pot  and  bring  to  a  boil  
• Grill  flank  to  medium  rare  (140F  degrees  maximum,  flipping  once  only)  
• While  grilling,  coat  flank  with  small  portions  of  marinade  
• When  cooked  to  temperature,  take  meat  from  grill  to  a  cutting  board,  cover  with  tin  foil  
and  let  rest  for  4  minutes  
• Cut  into  thin  slices  against  the  grain  as  shown  above,  then  drizzle  marinade  overtop  
Spice  the  marinade  up  by  cutting  up  some  portabella  mushroom  and  throwing  them  in  when  boiling.