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Grilling a Strip Steak

 At what temperature and how long would I cook a 1-3/4" strip steak on a gas grill? Would it be best if it were marinated first, and what do you recommend?

 We're pretty sure when you ask about temperature, you're not referring to that useless piece of metal and glass on the lid of most gas grills that pretends to be a thermometer. Unless you have a super-duper gas grill, the thermometer on the lid is a joke. The time-tested way serious grillmasters measure the heat of a grill is with the hand test. That is, they hold their open palms one to two inches above the cooking surface of the grill and count the seconds until the heat forces them to pull their hands away. If they can only last for 1 to 2 seconds, the grill is hot; 3 seconds indicates medium-high heat; 4 to 5 is medium; 6 is medium-low; and 7 or more is fine for keeping toast warm.

The best method for grilling a thick steak is to have a two-level fire — where one part of the grill is very hot and another is at a more moderate temperature (4 to 5 seconds). This is easily done over a charcoal fire, where the hottest coals are piled on one side of the grill and cooler and perhaps fewer coals are on the other side. A gas grill with two or more burners can accomplish the same thing, as long as you take enough time to let the hot side get really hot. Too many people turn on their gas grills, wait a second, and then throw on the food. If the grill is not hot, you might as well use a toaster oven.

Let the steak warm to room temperature before you grill it; it will be much easier to get the inside cooked to the level you want without charring the outside. Grill the steak over the high heat for 3 minutes per side, and then move it to medium heat and continue to grill it uncovered for 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium rare.

Marinating is certainly a matter of personal preference, but it gives you a wonderful opportunity to add a lot of flavor to the steak. There are so many choices for marinades, dry rubs and sauces (and we don't know you and your tastes as well as we'd like), that we hesitate to make a definitive recommendation. But perhaps one of the following recipes will catch your eye:

Whatever you choose, marinate or season the steak in the refrigerator for at least two hours and as long as 24. Then don't use the marinade for a sauce — or anything — unless you boil it first.


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