Warning: this method of grilling steak will take more focus and attention than what you are probably used to. Once the meat hits the heat I don’t recommend juggling any other tasks since it is very hands on and I’d hate to see a nice steak get ruined.
At 33 years of age I came to realize something about my life: everything I thought I knew about grilling steaks was wrong. Only flip once? Wrong. Keep the lid on? Wrong. Avoid puncturing the steak? Wrong again.
Well perhaps I’m being a little too hard on myself. My steaks had been more than adequate and I still use a few tricks I had picked up prior to reading this Men’s Journal article…but it was a game changer. In this very brief article, Chef Adam Perry Lang describes 3 tips to step up your grilling game: Scruff Up the Surface, Baste. Then Baste More, and Don’t Fear the Flip. It’s taken me a few months to get fully comfortable with his methodology but you will be amazed at how much of a difference this will make. I’m talking serious flavor here, like what you would get with a $50 (and up) restaurant steak.
Bonus 1: In case you missed it check out this post on my favorite grilling tools.
If using a charcoal grill fire up the coals (preferably with a chimney). Here's a trick to get them going faster and more dependably in a chimney: only add enough coals to fill the very bottom, then add more once they are about half way to fully lit.
Assuming you keep steaks in the refrigerator take them out so they can begin warming to room temp. I've seen some articles mention taking them out well ahead of time. This is something I never remember to do and it doesn't seem to be all that critical. Next melt butter in a small sauce pan over very low heat.
While butter is melting use a sharp knife to score both sides of the steak (perfection isn't required here since we're just creating more surface area for the butter to get into). Now baste both sides of the steak with melted butter using a basting brush (or bare hands if you are uber-Paleo). Season liberally with salt and black pepper.
You will notice with this method flare-ups are going to be an almost constant factor due to the butter. For this reason you will want to create a safety zone. When you dump the coals out make sure they are only on one side (see pictures below). I'd also recommend limiting the number of steaks that you cook to half of what could potentially fit in the grill.
In the Men's Journal article, Adam Perry Lang recommends to baste over the grill. In my experience this is not all that necessary and will take focus away from the flare-up battle. A single basting on both sides seems to be plenty of butter in my opinion.
The flare-up battle begins. You might as well just set the lid of your grill on the ground since you will want to keep an eye on the steaks pretty much at all times. I will occasionally use the lid when I've had a particularly intense flare-up and need to put the steaks in the safety zone for a while. Also its a good idea to use long handled tongs since the flare-ups can generate some serious heat (unless of course you are trying to get rid of unwanted knuckle hair).
It's hard to predict cooking time but just keep going back and forth between hot and safe zones until the surface is nicely charred and the internal temp is where you like it. The flare-up dance may take some time to master but I can guarantee the results will be well worth it.
My final tip is to have a clean plate/tray/etc and sheet of aluminum foil ready for transport. This will ensure that the steaks reach the table nice and hot. Also if it takes a few minutes to get from the grill to the table don't worry. Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour Chef (and others) recommend waiting at least 5 minutes before digging in to maintain optimal juiciness.