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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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


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


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:


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***


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:


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


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:


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:


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:


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:


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:


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


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:


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:


And here is my grilled New York strip steak:


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:


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


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:


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).

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Orig­i­nal Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to col­lege with a suit­case and a grill where he over­cooked, under­cooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thou­sands of fail­ures, and quite a few suc­cess­es, near­ly two decades lat­er he start­ed a web­site to show step by step, pic­ture by pic­ture, fool­proof instruc­tions on how to make great things out of doors so that oth­ers don’t have to repeat the mis­takes he’s made on the grill.
Scott Thomas

@GrillinFool­Porn abounds here. All meat, all the time!
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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.


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!


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.


The steak looks great. I am a huge fan of grilled romaine. I rin­se mine in water, get­ting the water in between the leaves . I shake off any excess water and driz­zle with olive oil and my hus­band grills them. I also top with salt, cheese and some­times bal­sam­ic vine­gar. This can be a meal itself.


I real­ly need to revis­it this post and take come good pics, Gail. My pho­tog­ra­phy has improved great­ly since this was pub­lished. Glad you are a big fan of the grilled let­tuce. Me too. I do it all the time. Got­ta try the bal­sam­ic some­time!


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