There is no steak more iconic than the mighty porterhouse. It is, after all, two steaks in one! The image of a huge porterhouse, bone-in, dripping in juices is synonymous with steak itself. But porterhouse can be difficult to cook properly. No worries! We have the thermal tips you need to cook it just right.
Here we present you with a method for getting some great grilled flavor on your porterhouse, including a great sear, but with less risk of overcooking. It’s not a standard grilling method, but it’s one we’re happy to have tried, based on advice from Christie Vanover at GirlsCanGrill.com. This ends up delicious, and we hope you like it. Let’s dive in.
Porterhouse basics—what it is, etc.
the porterhouse is a steak cut straight across a whole short loin. It contains a strip-steak and a filet. It is similar to a T-bone steak, but with a larger portion of tenderloin. Porterhouses are often very large. We like these steaks to be at least 1.5″ thick.
Our porterhouses came in at about 32 ounces each—a solid two pounds! So unless you are a very hungry person, these are great steaks for sharing. Cook one for two people, or stretch it to three. You can divide the steak up so that everyone gets some of each muscle, thus varying the meal. It’s a great steak for that!
Porterhouse steak: a grilling method
In this method, we strive to get the best of two steak-cooking worlds: grilling and pan-searing. The kiss of smoke from the grill is amazing on beef, but flare-ups and grill hotspots can make cooking a large two-muscle steak on the grill somewhat difficult. To skirt that, we do a two-zone cook, starting with our steak in a grill with indirect heat and adding a lump of smoking wood to the fire.
As the steak cooks in the gentler heat of the indirect side, the woodsmoke seasons the meat with its deliciousness. And by cooking it indirectly, we avoid flare-ups and flame damage to our (rather expensive) steak. We’ll cook it indirectly until it reaches 95°F (35°C), as judged by our DOT® Simple Alarm Thermometer. Don’t worry, that’s not the doneness temp, that’s just how far we want to go during this stage of the cook!
Now that our steak is a little smoky and partially cooked, it’s time for the sear. Now, you can sear your steak on the grill grates over the direct-heat side of the cooker, but we want to get the best of both cooking techniques. That’s why we actually preheat a cast-iron skillet in the cooker over direct heat while the steak is coming up to its 95°F (35°C). By the time the steak is ready to be seared, our cast iron is perfectly hot for searing, over 425°F (218°C). We grease the pan a little and put the steak in. (Check the pan temp with an infrared thermometer like IRK-2 if you have one!)
To keep from overcooking on either side, we’ll employ the just-keep-flipping technique here, turning the steak over every 30 seconds. A handheld timer that can hang from your neck is great here, like the TimeStick Trio®. After three or four turns, we add a bunch more butter and some herbs to the pan and baste the steak, holding the pan handle carefully with a hot pad—after all, it’s been in the grill for about 15 minutes.
As we baste, we pause to take the temperature of the steak with our Thermapen® ONE, looking for a lowest internal temp of 125°F (52°C) for medium rare. Remove the steak from the pan and let it rest for 5 minutes before carving in.
A steak like this is far too good to get wrong. Give it both the flavor that it deserves and the temperature care it needs to be its very best. Try this method out this weekend, if you can, and see how you like it. We loved it.Print
Grilled Porterhouse Steak Recipe
Grill-seared porterhouse steak, informed by a technique from GirlsCanGrill.com
- 1 Porterhouse steak, 1.5″ thick, about 2 lb
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- 4 Tbsp Butter
- A few sprigs fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage)
Also: a cast iron pan and a grill
If you are cooking over charcoal, you can also make speed-charred vegetables:
- Carrots, peeled
- Large scallions, trimmed to the light-green
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Set up your grill for 2-zone cooking with a direct and an indirect heat area.
- Season the steaks generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Allow the steak to sit for 5–10 minutes so that the salt can soak in a little.
- Place your cast-iron pan in your grill over the direct-heat side. Place a small chunk of smoking wood directly on the coals (or make a woodchip packet to place on your burners)
- Place the steak in the indirect zone and insert the probe from your DOT thermometer. Set the high-temp alarm on your DOT to 95°F (35°C).
- Close the grill lid (adjusting the position of your cast-iron pan if needed) and cook.
- When your DOT’s alarm sounds, open the grill and remove the probe from your steak.
- Put 1 Tbsp butter in the skillet and melt it.
- Set your timer for 30 seconds and put the steak in the pan. Start the timer.
- When the 30 seconds have passed, flip the steak and restart the 30-second timer.
- Flip after 30 seconds, then do it one more time.
- Add the remaining butter and the herbs to the pan. Use a large spoon to baste the steak with the melted, herby butter for about 30 seconds, then flip the steak and continue to baste, checking the internal temperature frequently with your Thermapen ONE. (be sure to use a heat-proof glove or a hot pad to maneuver the pan handle … it was just in a grill!)
- When you find a lowest internal temperature of 125°F (52°C)—for medium rare—remove the steaks to a platter to rest.
- Serve, especially with grilled or speed-charred vegetables.
For speed-charred (caveman) veg, toss the veggies with salt and a good dose of oil. While the steak rests, scatter your coalbed somewhat and place the veggies directly on the coals in a single layer. Allow to rest on the coals for about 30-45 seconds, agitating and turning them as necessary until beautifully charred. Remove them to a platter with long tongs and cook the rest of them in batches.
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