From America's Test Kitchen Season 11: Grilled Steak and Gazpacho
In Argentina, large 2-pound steaks are grilled low and slow over hardwood logs, not charcoal (and never over gas), which imbues them with a smokiness that is subtler and more complex that the typical “barbecue” flavor one comes to expect of grilled meat here in the States. With the piquant parsley, garlic, and olive oil sauce known as chimichurri served alongside, it’s a world favorite. We wanted to duplicate the Argentinean method with American supermarket steaks and a kettle grill.
For our choice of steak, we selected well-marbled New York strip steak for its big beefy flavor and meaty chew. To mimic a wood fire, we added unsoaked wood chunks to the perimeter of our grill fire. Setting the lid down on the grill for the first few minutes of cooking helped to quickly trap smoke flavor. To get a deep brown char on the meat without overcooking it, we used two strategies. First, we rubbed the meat with a mixture of salt and cornstarch. Salt seasons the meat and draws out moisture, as does cornstarch. Then we moved the steaks into the freezer for 30 minutes. The inside of a freezer is so dry that it often robs unprotected food of its moisture. In this instance, this was a good thing. Par-frozen steaks browned within moments of hitting the grill. Even better, these partially frozen steaks could stand about five more minutes of fire, adding up to more char and more flavor. To finish, garlicky chimichurri sauce cut through the rich, unctuous qualities of our great grilled steak.
Serves 6 to 8
The chimichurri sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance. Our preferred steak for this recipe is strip steak, also known as New York strip. A less expensive alternative is a boneless shell sirloin steak (or top sirloin steak). We prefer oak, but other types of wood chunks can be used. Flipping 3 times during cooking allows for even cooking and limits flare-ups. To substitute table salt for kosher salt, halve the amounts listed in the recipe.