Photography: Thomas J. Story.
Total
About 2 hours
Yield
Serves 8 to 10 (serving size: 1/4 lb. (without sauces))

At Alfred's Steakhouse in San Francisco, the cooks have perfected a method for grilling steaks that results in a crunchy crust and evenly rosy meat within—no gray ring around a red center. Chef Daniel Patterson, whose Alta Group owns Alfred's, modified the technique for us home cooks who usually grill steaks as part of a multicourse dinner. His useful technique is one to engrave in your memory: Sear them all over, and then—rather than grilling them over indirect heat, like the restaurant's cooks do—roast them in the oven while you have your first course. It's like hiring a babysitter, but for beef! When you're ready to eat, throw the steaks back on the grill to build up the crunchy crusts.

Also helpful for creating a good crust: Unwrap the steaks the day before cooking them, pat dry, and chill them uncovered so air can circulate freely around them. Dry-aging makes steaks crustier too, because they aren't as moist to begin with.

How to Make It

Step 1

Salt steaks well on all sides and let sit at room temperature 30 minutes to an hour.

Step 2

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°. Heat a grill to high (600° to 650°). If using a charcoal grill, prepare a bed of coals on half of firegrate (3 1/2 to 4 in. thick, from 1 heaping chimney of ash-covered coals; Alfred's uses mesquite hardwood coals); leave rest of grate clear. Set cooking grate in place. Heat it at least 5 minutes, covered, with lid and bottom vents open. If using gas, preheat grill with all burners on high 20 minutes.

Step 3

Blot steaks dry and rub with canola oil. Put on a rimmed baking pan. Set a wire rack in a second baking pan and take both pans out to the grill, along with long grilling tongs.

Step 4

Grilling 1 or 2 steaks at a time, sear over direct heat just until meat releases from grate, about 30 seconds. Turn and grill 30 seconds, then keep turning and grilling in 30-second bursts, including on bone side, until all sides are evenly browned, 4 to 5 minutes total. If fire flares up, move steaks to a cooler area for a moment. Lay steaks on rack in baking pan as they're done, then take inside. Keep grills going (close top and bottom vents halfway on charcoal grill to preserve heat).

Step 5

Slide steaks into the 350° oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 120°, about 25 minutes for porterhouse, 20 minutes for rib-eye, and 10 to 12 minutes for filet mignon.

Step 6

To finish steaks, grill over high heat on all sides, turning every 30 seconds or so, until crusty and deeply browned and porterhouse registers 125° in center for medium-rare, about 5 minutes (it will keep cooking off the heat). Grill rib-eye and tenderloins to 125° to 130°, about 5 minutes. Lift to a large cutting board as done.

Step 7

Let steaks rest 10 minutes. Cut filet mignons thickly crosswise. Slice porterhouse and rib-eye from bones, then cut meat thickly crosswise and reassemble with bone. Drizzle steaks with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve with horseradish sauce and/or béarnaise sauce.

Chef's Notes

*Flannery Beef  supplies Alfred's with dry-aged and fresh beef; they also sell online to individuals.

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