From America's Test Kitchen
Grilled steaks have many tempting qualities—rich, beefy flavor, a thick, caramelized crust, and almost zero cleanup or prep for the cook. But the occasional small bonfire caused by the rendered fat can leave pricey cuts of meat charred and tasting like the inside of a smokestack. We wanted to develop a surefire technique for grilling the three most popular premium steaks—strip, rib eye, and filet mignon—so they would turn out juicy and tender every time.
To get the crust we wanted, a very hot fire was essential. But we quickly learned we couldn’t cook a thick steak over consistently high heat without either burning the steak or causing the fat to drip down onto the charcoal and ignite. The solution was to cook these premium steaks over a two-level fire, searing them first over high heat and then moving them to the cooler part of the grill to cook through. For the strip and rib-eye steaks, lightly oiling the cooking grate was enough to get them going and keep them from sticking, but the lean filets mignons required a bit of olive oil to encourage browning. Otherwise, we didn’t fuss with our steaks before cooking them—a light seasoning with salt and pepper was sufficient.
For seasoning the steaks, we prefer coarse-grained kosher salt because it's easier to sprinkle than fine-grained table salt. For grilling the steaks, we prefer hotter-burning hardwood charcoal, though regular briquettes are fine, too. If you use briquettes, use one large chimney-full (about 6 pounds); you may also have to sear the steaks about 30 seconds longer per side. If the filets are misshapen or unevenly cut, as supermarket steaks sometimes are, tie each one before grilling. We recommend serving the filets with one of the related recipes for flavored butters or olive oil; salsa verde is another excellent option.