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Absolutely Perfect Steaks

(recipe, Fred Thompson)

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Judging the doneness of steak is not as much science as it is technique and feel. Poke your index finger into your cheek at mouth level. Then press your finger into the steak. If they feel very similar, that’s an indication of a rare steak. Touching the tip of your nose gives you the feel of a medium steak, and touching your forehead is a medium-well to well-done steak. Always let the meat sit for a few minutes before you serve or cut it. Juices come to the surface of the meat while it cooks. Allowing it to sit lets the meat reabsorb the juices, so they don’t spill out when you cut it.


  1. 4 New York strip steaks, each about 14 ounces and 1½ inches thick
  2. ½ cup canola oil
  3. ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  4. 8 tsp. kosher salt
  5. 8 tsp. freshly cracked black peppercorns


  1. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator 30 to 40 minutes before cooking. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  2. Mix the oil and butter in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Put the steaks in this mixture, turning to coat each side. Lift the steaks from the pan and allow the excess oil to drip off. Place on a platter and coat each side of each steak with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the pepper.
  3. Oil the grill racks. Preheat your grill using all burners set on high and with the lid closed for 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Place the steaks on the hottest part of your grill. Cut one burner to medium, but not the one where the steaks are. Be patient. Close the lid and cook the steaks for 3 minutes on one side, turn, and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Turn them back to the first side for an additional 3 minutes, and then finish the other side with an additional 3 minutes. Your total cooking time will be 12 minutes. This should give you a rare steak with a pretty decent char. If you desire a steak that’s cooked a little more, pull the steaks to the cooler burner. Remember that the meat will continue to cook after you’ve removed it from the grill.
  5. Allow the steaks to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.