You Should Start Grilling Steak Directly On Charcoal

Like a moth to a flame, humans have been drawn to fire since the beginning of existence for our very survival. We even evolved to eat cooked food, according to Smithsonian Magazine. And, while the earliest cookware dates to 15,000 years ago (per NPR), our ancient ancestors weren't exactly reaching for their good old trusty cast iron to cook up some ribeyes for their loved ones.

Fast forward to modern grilling methods, and you may find yourself firing up the grill where barbecue expert Chris Lily told Tasting Table that it all comes down to temperature control. But what if that temperature reached 1,000 degrees F? President Dwight D. Eisenhower found the sweet spot, according to The New York Times, and so have a swath of others who have a newfound obsession with the age-old practice of cooking straight on the embers. But if you are skeptical of an ash-enriched result, never fear: There are ways around and even through that. Why mess with cleaning the grill this time around? You really should start grilling steak directly on the charcoal.

How to cook the perfect steak directly on the coals

According to Alton Brown's Facebook page, he sears a flank steak at around 1,000 degrees F after liberally brining it with salt. Brown then brings the seasoned meat to room temperature on a rack for an hour. While the salt draws out the steak's moisture, it also cuts down on bacteria. After placing the steak on the coals for about 45 seconds, he flips and repeats the process. Once the steak rests in aluminum foil for 15 minutes, he notes that the residual ash will blend into the steak's juices creating a sauce for a most succulent steak.  

Chef Tim Byers of Smoke Restaurant rubs thick primal cuts with a blend of chili powder, coffee, and brown sugar. He told The Dallas Morning News the dry rub will melt into the meat forming a rich crust after time on the coals. "It's really unorthodox," he said. "This outside char is like nobody's business." Another important ingredient not to be overlooked is untreated lump charcoal so that only wood (sans chemicals) touches the steak, per The Washington Post – an essential to Eisenhower's favorite method for grilling steak.

Temperature control is certainly key to grilling steak. But, for the juiciest and most flavorful steak, go straight to the source and grill them right on the coals themselves.