How to Cook a Tender Steak Medium Rare on the Barbecue Grill

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Overcooking kills a steak faster than anything else. No matter how tender that fillet felt in your hands, or how well-marbled that ribeye looked at the meat counter, if you barbecue it just a minute or two over, it won't taste much different than a shoulder or chuck steak. Barbecuing tends to be a little rough on tender steaks, and getting one to a perfect medium-rare tests your mettle as a grill cook. But if you finesse the heat and use a meat thermometer, you can tame the fiercest of barbecues into gently heating any cut to a tender medium-rare.

Setting Up the Barbecue

Step 1

Take the steaks out of the refrigerator just before you set up the barbecue. Let the steaks sit at room temperature on a plate lined with paper towels.

Step 2

Light a charcoal chimney filled halfway with natural lump charcoal, or about 3 pounds worth, if you're barbecuing four steaks or less. Light a full charcoal chimney if you're barbecuing four or more steaks.

Step 3

Empty the charcoal on half of the barbecue's charcoal tray when it glows orange in the center and the top coals start to ash over, after about 20 minutes.

Step 4

Place the grate on the barbecue and close the lid. Adjust the lower vent on the barbecue so it's about 1/4 open. Close the lid's vent if it's open.

Step 5

Let the barbecue heat up for about 20 minutes and clean the grill grate with a grill brush. Bring out the steaks.

Barbecuing the Steaks

Step 1

Pat the top of the steaks dry with paper towels. Season the steaks on both sides to taste and brush them lightly with oil.

Step 2

Place the steaks on the side of the grill without the charcoal. Space each steak about 1/2 inch apart if you're grilling several of them.

Step 3

Cook the steaks for 4 to 5 minutes on each side for 1- to 2-inch-thick steaks. Cook steaks less than 1 inch thick for about 3 to 4 minutes.

Step 4

Rotate the steaks 180 degrees every couple of minutes using tongs. You have to rotate the steaks because the heat is coming from one direction.

Step 5

Move the steaks over the coals after 8 to 10 minutes of total cooking time on the indirect side of the grill. You can also check the steaks' internal temperature with a meat thermometer and move them to the direct side of the grill when they reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 6

Grill the steaks on the direct side of the grill until golden brown and seared, about 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer, if desired, and take the steaks off the grill when they reach 130 F.

Step 7

Cover the steaks loosely with aluminum foil after you take them off the grill. Let the steaks rest while the temperature increases to about 135 F, about 5 minutes per pound.