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Grilled New York Strip Steaks Dry Marinated in Salt

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I’ve been talking about brining a lot lately which is soaking usually chicken or pork in a salt water solution to make the meat more juicy, tender, and flavorful.  How is this possible?  Doesn’t salt dry things out?  Well, yes if you use enough salt long enough.  But if done properly salt can do some magical things to meat.  And in this case you are just going to have to trust me here.  It looks nuts.  Many will scoff, but I tell you that this method is incredible.

For those of you that laughed at the grilled Romaine and then tried it know that I speak the truth I ask that you take that same leap of faith and give this a try.  I mean all I’m asking you to do is take a large, expensive cut of beef and coat the entire outside with very coarse salt for maybe 20 minutes.  What’s the worst that can happen right?  What will happen is that steak will be extremely tender and juicy.  I know it sounds nuts, but it really isn’t…

I used to marinate steaks all the time over night and still do from time to time, but lately a modified version of this is my go to method.

Let me start off by saying that this should not be done with a thin steak.  The steak needs to be at least an inch thick.  The thicker the better in my book.  And as you can see below these more than qualified.  My cell phone is there for reference:

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Now for the salt.  And I’m not talking about table salt.  I’m not even talking sea salt.  I’m talking about the coarsest salt you can find.  Something closer to the size of what you put on the sidewalk after you shovel the snow off. This stuff is excellent. You can view it here on Amazon – Cerulean Seas Coarse Sea Salt:

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Now coat all sides with this stuff.  And with a steak this thick that is more than two sides.  Don’t just sprinkle a little on.  Coat it on:

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To give you and idea of the size of the salt crystals, how much to put on and what the salt does after 25 minutes:

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As you can see above the salt has drawn some moisture out.  Now most of you are going to shriek that we don’t want to take that moisture out of the steak.  Well, yes and no.  We don’t want to take out the juice but this is simply water and removing some of the water will lessen the steaming of the meat as that water cooks out and hastens browning which is a good thing.

You won’t be leaving the salt on long enough to cure the meat like jerky.  Just long enough to pull some moisture out but leave enough for the steak to come out beautifully.  And for these I left the salt on for just 25 minutes.  After that I literally rinsed the steaks off in the sink to get all the salt off.

Once I rinsed them I patted them as dry as I could get them.  Salting like this will leave a nice salted flavor to the crust once the steaks are seared properly so you don’t want any extra salt left behind.

Once I rinsed them and I patted them dry I cracked some fresh black and white pepper over them and a good coating of granulated garlic.  No more salt.  As you can see I’m hitting all sides here and not just the top and bottom:

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I know that coating looks rather thick but a lot will be lost in the searing process.  The pepper and garlic is the basis of the tasty crust that will be formed on the grill.

Now time for my side dish which is grilled Romaine Lettuce.  That’s right, grilled salad.  Take an entire head of Romaine, rinsed and dried:

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Those big leafy outer leaves are going to wilt too quickly so remove them:

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Now split the head in two, lengthwise, and drizzle with olive oil:

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After the olive oil add a pinch of sea salt, some fresh black pepper, and granulated garlic.  Also grate about a half cup of hard cheese like asiago, parmesian, or romano, all three work well.  Set that aside till later. Now onto the grill.

The grill is set up for two zone cooking.  Coals on the left and nothing on the right:

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My buddy Derrick likes his steaks medium so his New York strip went on first after I drizzled some olive oil over the coals to kick up some flames.  ***PLEASE be careful when doing this.  Do not do this in high wind, around wood or near aluminum siding. Also, if the grill is not ridiculously hot, the oil will burn slowly and leave a black, oily film on your steaks. I don’t bother doing the flame searing anymore***

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After 60 seconds the steak was rotated to sear another 60 seconds.  Oh, and it was a bit windy so I placed the lid to the kettle on the side to shield the wind and added more oil which had died down by the time I got this shot:

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After a total of 2 minutes on one side I flipped it and repeated the process:

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After a total of four minutes (two minutes per side) I pulled the grilled New York strip steak over to the side with no coals and put the lid on leaving the vent open to keep the coals hot for when my steak was ready:

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After a full 10 minutes to get Derrick’s steak to medium I lifted the lid and put my steak on and did the exact same process:

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After I seared mine for two minutes on each side I pulled it off to the side as well and closed the lid to do two things: bake mine a little to get it closer to medium rare and to warm up Derrick’s a bit as his was cooling off for four minutes so that when they come off they will both need the same amount of time to rest before slicing them open and eating.  More on resting in a minute.

Speaking of Derrick.  He was enjoying a little nap after a long weekend of driving:

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Four minutes of searing and 12 minutes baking for Derrick’s grilled New York strip steak to get to to medium.  The baking time will vary based on the thickness of the steak.  These steaks were close to 24 ounces.  Four minutes of searing for mine and two minutes of baking for mine to be somewhere between rare and medium rare (closer to rare).  If you have a hard time gauging how done a steak is might I suggest the thumb test?

And now these cross hatched beauties are in need of a nap.  Well, they need to rest which they will do for about 5-7 minutes for steaks this size:

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Resting a steak is vitally important to having a juicy steak.  See, when that steak comes off the grill it is still hot and the juices are in an excited state.  They’re moving through the meat at a million miles an hour so to speak.  If you slice or poke the steak with a fork at this point those juices are going to come rushing out.  Let the meat rest for a little while to let the juices settle down.  don’t wait for it to get cold, just let it drop a few degrees and all those juices will remain in the steak when you cut it open.

The grilled Romaine makes an excellent side dish for this meal as it takes about as long to grill the lettuce as it takes for the steaks to rest.  The Romaine goes right over the coals:

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After a couple of minutes one side is nicely charred but not wilted:

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After a couple more minutes the other side has a nice char around the edges.  It’s taken inside and the bottom couple of inches is chopped off because a lot of grit can collect in the base of Romaine lettuce.  So to avoid that part, just slice it away:

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That knife that keeps making appearances throughout this post is my 8 inch Kershaw Shun Chef’s knife. HUGE fan of the Shun knives. I think I’m up to about eight of them now of different sizes and shapes. If you don’t have a really good knife and are looking to get a feel for them, they sell them at Bed, Bath and Beyond and at William Sonoma, the later of which is where you can actually hold them and use them. You can see the knife on Amazon as well.

Here is Derrick’s steak plated with the Romaine and a quarter cup of grated asiago scattered over the top:

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And here is my grilled New York strip steak:

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Before the money shot here is the bottle of wine we had.  This is about an $8 bottle of Zinfandel that stands up rather well to red meat.  One of my favorite table wines.  Not a wine for a special occasion, just a nice bottle of wine:

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Now to a shot of, what is to me, the perfect steak:

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And a close up of that rare beauty.  Notice that despite being sliced in half the grilled new york strip steak is not standing in a pool of juice but the meat itself is glistening with fluid:

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This method does make the steak a little saltier but in a good way.  I may start doing this method after marinading the steak overnight although the method surely stands up well enough on its own.  I’m not sure how but this process tenderized a cut of meat that should not have been as tender as it was.  I don’t know about the science behind it but some sort of magic happened with that salt that made this so tender and juicy.

If you have any questions about the grilled New York strip steak dry marinated in salt, please feel free to comment below or email me.

Also, you can follow the Grillin Fools on Facebook and post your own grilling pictures, or keep up with us on Twitter@GrillinFool (no S).

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  1. Thanks for the great tip and detailed instructions. Can’t wait to give it a try. I did try it on a thin steak with table salt (it’s the ingredients I already had), and it did tenderize the steak; but I can’t wait to go thick with coarse sea salt.

  2. Grilling lettuce is a fantastic idea. I used your idea of grilling with a salt crust for a while now, and it’s officially a staple for me. Can’t wait until I put my own home grown lettuce on the grill. Waiting on summertime!

  3. Christian says:

    The science behind the salt:

    Basically, the salt dehydrates the meat and becomes saturated with the juices from the steak. Once the salt is saturated, the steak (with some help from gravity) begins absorbing the juices from the salt. Some salt comes with these juices, and that serves to tenderize the meat. Another thing you can do is put some fresh chopped herbs like rosemary or thyme on the steak before you salt it (and I’ve used everything from coarse sea salt to table salt), then when the steak pulls the juices back from the salt, they pick up the flavor from the herbs on the way.

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