Fired Up Fridays: Grilling the Perfect Steak for Dad

A weekly barbecue blog for the summer.
Photo: Scott Schumaker

Scott Schumaker is president of PacificBasin and interim publisher of Hawaii Home + Remodeling. He is also an avid barbecue hobbyist who often tempts co-workers by posting images of his culinary feats on his Instagram, @schuboxphoto. We have convinced him to share his secrets each week this summer with our readers in our Fired Up Friday blog. His grill smoker of choice is a Big Green Egg he purchased from POP Marine and Fishing. He also uses a Weber Summit gas grill, especially for rotisserie cooking.

Father’s Day is the perfect time to wrestle the barbecue tongs away from dad and grill him — and you — the perfect steak. Whether it is a tomahawk bone-in ribeye, a T-bone or a massive Porterhouse, there are two basic methods I use to grill the perfect steak. Neither method is uniquely mine as I learned how to do both through internet forums and other barbecue reading material. 

T-Rex Sear Method

This is my favorite approach for smaller cuts of meat, about a pound or less. For larger cuts like roasts and tri-tips, I use the Reverse-Sear Method below.

First, light the grill and allow the coals and cooking grate to reach peak temperature. This is a great time to take the meat out of the fridge so it can warm up for the 45 minutes or so it takes for the grill to hit searing temps. Do not season your steaks yet.

Once the coals are lava hot, place the steaks directly on the white-hot grate. Allow the meat to sear for one minute. Then, turn the meat 45-degrees and place it on the hottest part of the grate to create the prefect cross-hatch diamond pattern. Sear for one more minute.

The perfect cross-hatch diamond pattern is easy if the grill grate is white hot.

Now that one side has been seared for 2 minutes, flip the steak over and repeat the steps above. 

Two Porterhouse getting their sear on.

Now comes the hard part. We wait. It is important to let the steak rest for 20 minutes. I rest mine on a wire rack to allow the juices to drip off. This preserves the wonderful crust we have just seared onto the meat. While the meat is resting, close off the air vents so your grill can begin cooling. (If using a gas grill, turn down to medium low.)

This is also the time to season your steak. There are more seasoning rubs in the world than there are dads so experiment to find or create the one you like best. I prefer Penzeys Chicago Steak Seasoning or Weber Grill Chicago Steak Seasoning. Hawaiian salt and pepper work well also. They call it rub for a reason. Shake some seasoning on the top side of the steak and rub it in. Wait a few minutes for the rub to look wet, then, flip the steak and rub the other side with more seasoning.

After the 20 minutes are up, open the grill’s air vents slightly, throw a chunk of wood on the coals. For steak, I prefer pecan, kiawe or hickory. Sometimes I will use cherry but I save the apple wood for lighter meats like fish, pork and poultry.

Now it’s time to finish the steak until the internal temperature is a perfectly rare 125 degrees. The steaks will continue to cook after they are removed from the heat and should end up about 130 degrees. My favorite temperature guide comes from The Reluctant Gourmet. I use an instant-read Thermapen.  

Some people use the “face touch” method where a rare steak feels like your lips, a medium like your nose and a well-done (ugh, don’t do that to your dad) feels like your forehead. But, nothing beats the precision of a good, instant-read thermometer. Usually, thicker steaks take about five to seven minutes per side to finish up, bu, barbecuing the perfect steak is about the internal temperature of the meat, not time. To allow them more time in the smoke, I usually finish mine off over a raised grid to get them further from the coals. 

Finishing off some bacon-wrapped filets.

Now comes the second hardest part. We wait again. Never slice a piece of meat fresh of the grill. The meat’s fibers have been twisted tight by the heat and if cut right away, all the wonderful juices run all over your plate. Let the steak relax while you pour the wine and finish the salad.  For most steaks, five to 10 minutes will work. For larger roasts, wait 20 minutes or so.

Once the steak has rested, slice it against the grain and you will find that no matter how rare, the juices stay in the meat for a moist, delicious steak. 

Let your steaks rest and the juices will stay in the meat, not run out onto your plate.

Reverse Sear Method

As the name implies, it’s basically the same as the T-Rex Sear above, but in reverse. The first part of the cook however uses the indirect cook method where the meat is not placed directly over the coals. With the Big Green Egg, I use the plate setter to divert the heat. You can use a water pan or simply pile the coals on one side of the grill and place the meat on the other. If using a gas grill, light the burners on one side and place the meat on the other.

This is my favorite method for tri-tips and larger roasts. When using this method, light the grill and let the temperature at the grate get to about 250 degrees, or medium low. I use a Weber iGrill or a Maverick to watch temperature.

Take the steak out of the fridge and let it warm up a bit while the grill is heating. Rub it with olive oil and forcefully rub your favorite seasoning into the flesh on all sides.

Throw a chunk of wood on the coals and toss the steak on the grate using the indirect cook method described above. Cook the meat undisturbed until it reaches about 118 degrees. I watch the temp using a second probe connected to the iGrill or Maverick.

Using grill gloves, carefully remove the plate setter or water pan and open the air vents to get the coals to lava hot. Then, sear your meat on all sides until a nice crust forms and the internal temp reaches a few degrees shy of 125 degrees. If you like your meat medium rare, shoot for 130 degrees, medium 135 degrees, medium well 140 degrees.

Tri-tips are a great value and the Reverse Sear Method helps them taste like much more expensive cuts of beef.

Let the steak rest, slice and enjoy.

Lastly, if you really want to impress dad, in addition to doing the grilling, buy him some of the products I mention in this post. That way, he can grill you a killer steak the other 51 weekends. 


1. Penzeys Chicago Steak Seasoning
2. Weber Grill Chicago Steak Seasoning
3. Thermapen thermometer
4. Big Green Egg grill smoker
5. Weber Summit gas grill

Categories: DIY, Outdoor Living