How I Overcame “Grill-Phobia” and How You Can, Too

How I Overcame “Grill-Phobia” and How You Can, Too

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Guest contributor, Keith-Thomas Ayoob, EdD, RD, FAND

Disclosure: Both Toby and I are part of the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner Beef Expert Bureau. We have been compensated for our time commitment. However, all opinions are entirely our own and we have not been paid to publish positive comments.

If you have a house with a backyard, grilling meat is sort of a mandatory activity, especially for men, but, true confession, I loathed grilling because I was really lousy at it. Try as I might, steaks were always either too dry or too tough.

Eventually, I accepted my “grilling disability” and left it to the steakhouse pros. I do like eating out, but it’s expensive, even though I’d take a lot of the steak home for the next day’s dinner.

But a lean steak is too good to leave for an occasional restaurant indulgence. Lean beef has dynamite nutrition, loaded with 10 essential nutrients and fewer calories than you think. Indeed, there are more than 30 cuts of beef that qualify for a true, legal definition of “lean.”

When we moved into Manhattan, where safety regulations forbid grills on terraces, I thought I’d be relieved of my grilling stress. Of course, our great new range had a grilling “insert” for the center burner, but I locked that away, figuring I’d never have a reason (or the ability) to use it.

Ironically, I’m one of the Beef Checkoff’s “Beef Experts” (for my nutrition knowledge, not my grilling skills — yet), so I wanted to learn how to do beef right. They invited me to their test kitchen in Denver for a lesson on grilling from their experts. They did pay my travel, but I’d have paid it myself just for the chance to learn grilling from some true experts.

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I watched them grill a strip steak, seasoned very simply with some salt and pepper. It tasted great and it seemed pretty easy. Then I teamed up with Toby to do a few recipes. (Have a look at our pix.) Honestly, they were terrific, so I went home to try it on supermarket steak.




Now the heat is on
I found a couple of strip steaks on sale and seasoned them – one with salt and pepper, one with the same plus some smoked paprika, my favorite. Two musts:

  • Hot grill
  • Meat thermometer

A hot grill sears the meat and helps seal in flavor. When the internal temperature reaches 145F it’s done, but use a meat thermometer! It’s the only way to know if the steak is cooked to proper doneness.

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Definitely the best steaks I’ve ever grilled. Since the grill was hot, after the steaks were done, I threw some sliced fennel, snap peas, heirloom carrots and corn onto the grill, but tons of other veggies would also work. What you’ll get from home-grilling:

  • Tastes as great as restaurant steak
  • Costs WAY less
  • Goes for more than one meal



  • Brush the grill with some olive oil or use non-stick spray to prevent the meat from sticking.
  • Heat the grill hot and put the steaks on it only when it is pre-heated.
  • 2 strip steaks, about 12 to 16 ounces each.
  • Combine a sprinkle of salt, ground pepper, dried Italian herbs, and a smashed garlic clove for each steak and rub it over the steaks well.
  • Onto the grill and don’t move them for 3 or 4 minutes, then shift 90-degrees to get checkered grill marks. Another 2 or 3 minutes, flip it.
  • After about 3 or 4 minutes, take its temperature – remove it at 138-140 degrees Fahrenheit and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile grill some veggies.

A 16-oz steak can go for 3 servings. Keep it real and make half the plate veggies — all kinds. And is an absolute go-to for chef-quality recipes that are super-easy and lean.

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