Summers a-wastin’, so it’s time to say a proper farewell to the last long days: with grilled steak. Okay, here it is—I’m a professed grilling fanatic. If I could eat steak every day, I would. These nine steak grilling tips and tricks are ones that I’ve learned the hard way, and they bear repeating.

  1. Choose your steak. Always make sure to get USDA Choice (it will have a USDA Choice sticker on it). USDA Prime is only very slightly better so it’s mostly unnecessary, in my opinion, unless you really want to splurge.

  2. Don’t buy just any USDA Choice steak. Get one that’s bright red and fresh, marbled with white lines of fat. No marbling? No Flavor. Turning brown? Too old. Now, go with either a New York Strip or Rib eye for the best flavor. Fat is your friend (filet mignon and tenderloin are so last decade). And don’t be shy, If you’ve got a butcher at your store you can request that they cut you some fresh steaks on the spot.

    how to grill a great steak

    Throw a dog a bone

    A porterhouse is about the same as a New York strip with a bone and a small piece of filet mignon on the other side of the bone. A T-bone is the same thing with an even smaller piece of filet. But don’t let that bone scare you away, they can add some serious finger-licking flavor—and your dog will continue to be your bestest friend.

  3. Fresh is best, so forget the rest. That’s my guiding philosophy. It’s okay to freeze steaks if you find a killer deal on them—but if you want delicious, buy your steaks the day you cook them.

    Microwave-thawed? You’re hurting my ears

    If you are cooking frozen steaks, let them completely thaw on the counter and come to room temperature. Never, ever, EVER microwave a steak unless you find hockey pucks tasty.

  4. Season the steaks. Now, the classic flavoring is to just season the steak with a generous amount of sea salt and freshly crushed black pepper. But it’s 2017 and time to try something new. I’ve tried every steak seasoning under the sun, the best is Famous Dave’s Steak and Burger Seasoning (I swear, they are not a post sponsor). Put it on thick and the flavor will be unreal.

  5. Prepare your grill. Assuming it’s a gas one, move the burner shields (those little roof-like plates) to the side to expose the flame. Then replace the grate over that section. Preheat the grill on the highest it will go with all burners For 15-20 minutes. We want that sucker hot.

  6. Okay, let’s get cookin’! Open the grill and place the steak right in the middle of those two burner plates you moved out of the way. You know your grill—or you should—but most likely it’s hottest at the back, and that’s where you want the steak. Keeping the heat all the way up, shut the lid. Check after just a few minutes and flip the steak when it starts to really flare up and char a little.

    Let the same happen to the other side—about 3-4 minutes on each side. Then for that perfect cross-hatch pattern, flip the steak back over at the opposite angle. Cook for another 1-2 minutes on each side.

  7. finger-test-meat-doneness

  8. Get to know when a steak is almost done. Do a simple steak firmness test using your hand (see above). Then, in the final minute or so, I always insert a meat thermometer in the side. I like to pull mine off the grill at 130 for medium rare, 140 for medium, 150 for medium well, 160 for well. This ensures a perfectly cooked steak every. Single. Time.

  9. Have a destination ready. Want to get fancy? Put your plates in the oven or microwave briefly—or on top of the grill while it’s closed—so they’re piping hot before you plate the steaks. This will keep your beautiful trophies warm throughout the entire meal.

  10. Enjoy the best steak you ever did sink your meat-loving teeth into!