We found the key to consistently successful barbecued steaks is the use of a 'Grill Surface Thermometer'.
These thermometers are widely available, reasonably accurate, and are relatively inexpensive at about $10.
They compare favorably with the much more expensive infrared barbecue thermometers which can retail for $60 or more.
Give or take a couple of months, the steaks used for testing came from 100% grass-fed bison that were 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years old.
Carcasses were dry aged for 10 to 14 days before being cut down into various primal cuts.
From a grading perspective all steaks would be considered USDA 'Select' or Canada 'A to AA'.
Steaks were evenly cut to a thickness of 1 1/4 inches.
They were removed from the refrigerator and allowed to rest on an elevated baking rack at room temperature for 1 hour before being prepared for grilling.
- 100% grass-fed bison steaks
- vegetable or canola oil
- coarse sea salt
- FOR CHARCOAL BARBECUE, use briquettes and arrange them on one side of the barbecue. There should be no direct charcoal heat coming from one side of the barbecue. The barbecue is ready for steak grilling when the coals are completely covered in gray ash.
- FOR GAS, preheat one side of the barbecue on the high heat setting for a minimum of 15 minutes.
- First, check the grill surface temperature by placing the thermometer on the grill over the heated side of the barbecue.
Close the lid.
It only takes 4 or 5 minutes to take a reading.
What you are aiming for is a temperature in the range of 475 to 500F.
That's an ideal temperature range for searing bison steaks.
Reaching and maintaining temperatures in this range when using a gas grill is relatively straight forward.
A little adjustment in the gas flow rate is all it takes.
With charcoal, I admit, more time is usually needed for experimenting with grill elevation and/or the amount of charcoal used before the desired temperature range is realized.
With the heated side being maintained in the 475-500F range, as a rule the unheated side with the barbecue lid down will usually fall into the 300-325F range.
- Once the 475-500F temperature is reached and maintained, prepare the steaks by lightly brushing with some vegetable or canola oil; sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
- Put some more oil on a cotton dish towel and quickly oil the hot side of the grill. Immediately put the steaks on the hot grill; close the barbecue lid and sear the steaks for 2 minutes. Open the lid, turn the steaks over and sear for 2 more minutes.
- Then move the steaks to the unheated side of the grill. Except when you turn the steaks, grill with the lid closed for 4 minutes per side for a rare steak; 5 minutes per side for a medium-rare steak.
*NOTE: For steaks 1 1/2 inches thick, grill for 5 minutes per side for a rare steak, and 6 minutes per side for a medium rare steak.
- Remove steaks from barbecue and let rest for full 10 minutes at room temperature, preferably on an elevated rack, before serving and slicing. During this time don't worry about the steaks going cold on you. In fact, for the first 4 minutes off the grill they're still cooking and their internal temperature is rising. After 10 minutes off the grill moisture that would be lost, had the steak been cut into too early, will for the most part sink right back into the meat.