When faced with the conundrum of choosing a steak, things can get tense. Do I opt for the richness of a rib eye, or do I savor the tenderness of a filet? What about the beefy satisfaction of a strip steak? Choices can be hard. But there is a way to get two out of three: the T-bone steak. A grilled T-bone is truly a fine choice for any steak dinner, and with proper thermal thinking and temperature monitoring, you can make a steak dinner at home that is not only cheaper but also better than the one you’ll get eating out.
Yes, better than the steakhouse. With thermal thinking and a fast and accurate thermometer, you can make a steak to your liking better than the folks who are grilling meat for the masses every night. This technique, suggested by Jess Pryles, gives you plenty of control and exceptional doneness. Let’s get into the meat of it now.
A great method for grilling steak
One can endlessly debate the choice to grill or pan-sear your steak. Both methods have advantages and give you delicious results, but let us here take it for a give that you want the delicious flavor of flame-kissed, char-grilled steak.
The difficulty of grilling steak is that the hot, delicious fire tends to scorch meat, leaving you with a barely pink center and an overcooked grey-band exterior. We have talked about ways to beat that by, for instance, reverse searing your steak. But if you are cooking on a Kamado-style cooker, for instance, cooking with the plate in then removing the plate and getting the heat up can be a bit of a bother.
In this method, which Jess Pryles call “Just Keep Flipping,” we put the steak over direct heat and flip it every 40 seconds. (Go ahead and use a timer with a repeatable-time feature like Timestick® to track those intervals…they’re much shorter than you think they will be!) That may seem excessive and might seem like the steak will never fully cook, but it really works remarkably well.
By flipping the steak regularly, we expose one side to the high heat just enough to load the surface with thermal energy, then turn it over. The heat-heavy side of the steak is now exposed to the air. Excess heat vents into the atmosphere, while the hot side gradually diffuses its heat into the rest of the meat. We are, in essence, cooking it rotisserie-style.
After about three flips, you start to see visible sizzling on the steak after each turn. By the time you’ve flipped it 10-ish times, you’ll be thinking that the crust looks good and this steak might be done. And that, friends, is the time to start taking the temperature.
T bone steak doneness temperatures
To get your steak just right, and more to your liking than a cook at a restaurant who doesn’t know you or what you like, you need to temp it.
As with all steaks, medium-rare t-bone steak has a final temp of 130–134°F (55–57°C). Medium steak is ready at 135–144°F (58–62°C). But the high heat that we’ve been cooking over is definitely going to have some carryover cooking.
You are probably already a good cook, but this is where an instant-read thermometer like Thermapen® ONE can only make you better.
See, pulling the steak from heat before it’s done is key to the perfectly grilled steak. Trying the “thumb press” method for identifying doneness doesn’t help you know if your meat is 10°F (6°C) away from done, but a thermometer does! And pulling about 10°F (6°C) south of done is exactly what you want to do.
How long does it take to grill a T bone with this method?
As I said, these steaks are pretty much ready after about 10 or 12 flips. At 40 seconds per flip, that comes to about 7-ish minutes. (Results will differ based on initial temperature, grill heat, steak thickness, local air temp, etc. That’s why cooking to temp, not time, is so important.) Do you get gorgeous grill lines? No, but you do get a beautiful, even sear that deepens the flavor of the whole steak.
A t-bone, grilled to perfection, really is a delicious treat. You get a big, meaty strip and just a few precious bites of meltingly tender filet that you can eat to crown the whole experience. And with this thermally-sensitive cooking method, you get the full enjoyment out of your steak, no matter how you like it. Beautiful rosy red medium-rare or juicy-pink medium (or more done, if you like!) steak is yours for the taking if you cook it, flip it, cook it, flip it, and, most importantly, temp it.
Skip the steakhouse. Save some money on a better steak and enjoy it at the home table with people you care about. That is happy cooking.Print
Grilled t-bone steak, with method advice adapted from Jess Pryles.
- Set up your grill for direct-heat cooking and preheat it.
- Salt the steaks generously with kosher salt and black pepper. (You can also use a steak-seasoning rub if you like.)
- When the grill is ready, place the steaks on the grate and set a TimeStick for 40 seconds.
- When the timer sounds, flip the steaks and restart the timer.
- Continue with this process, rotating the steaks as necessary to navigate hotspots on the grill.
- Probe the steaks occasionally with your Thermapen ONE to see how fast they are cooking. The speed may surprise you!
- When the steaks are 10°F (6°C) below your desired final temperature, pull them from heat. For us, that meant 123°F (51°C).
- Allow the steaks to rest for 3–5 minutes while you quickly grill some tasty veg to accompany them.
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