Few people know more about grills and grilling than Todd Simon, Senior Vice President of Omaha Steaks, a family business that was started by Simon’s great-great-grandfather. Viewpoints asked Simon to share his own techniques.
Viewpoints: What type of grill do you personally use? Do you have an outdoor and indoor grill to use year-round?
Todd Simon: I use a natural gas grill. It’s actually located outdoors, but I use it year-round. In fact, I have been known to shovel a path to it when is snows so that I can reach it.
VP: What is your process for grilling the perfect steak?
TS: The following are our top five, fool-proof tips:
- Clean and pre-heat your grill on high.
- Lightly oil and season everything before you put it on the grill. This helps the searing process and prevents sticking.
- Sear the outside of the steaks when grilling, using tongs or a spatula to turn the meat, and cover the grill as much as possible during the grilling process to help lock in the great flavor and to prevent flare-ups. Never pierce the steak when grilling as that allows the flavorful juices to escape. Don’t press or squish the steaks or burgers when grilling either. Just let them be!
- Use the 60/40 grilling method. Grill for 60% of the time on the first side, then grill 40% of the time after you turn over the food. This will give you an evenly cooked product.
- Place your cooked meats on a clean plate and allow your foods to “rest” for five minutes before serving to retain moisture and juiciness.
VP: What is something you personally wish you knew about grills/grilling that you didn’t know when you started cooking? Any lessons you learned the hard way?
TS: As a fifth-generation, family-owner of Omaha Steaks, I literally grew up grilling. The company was started by my great-great-grandfather nearly 100 years ago, and we been grilling great steaks ever since. Like everyone, I too experienced some grill disasters, but I had great training from my Dad and other family members and I learned the tried and true tips for grilling early on. Above all, I think it is fun to experiment with new foods on the grill and like any skill, the more you do it, the more confidence you have. Also, most steaks don’t take very long to cook on the grill – so just hang out while they cook. Sip some wine and talk with friends. That way you won’t get distracted and accidentally overcook them.
VP: What are your most essential grilling tools?
TS: I always make sure that I have the following grilling tools close at hand: Olive Oil and Seasoning Blend, Tongs, Ruler – to measure the actual thickness of the steak, The Omaha Steaks Steak Time App or Steak Grilling Chart, Thermometer and Grill Brush.
VP: What’s the biggest mistake most home grillers make?
TS: The biggest mistake is overcooking the steaks. At Omaha Steaks, we think that a steak is best when it is served medium rare.
VP: What’s the best side to throw on the grill with steak?
TS: Of course, we think that nearly anything from Omaha Steaks, with the possible exception of our desserts, could be prepared on the grill, but what I honestly think is a must-have with a great steak is grilled vegetables. The more variety the better. Grilled vegetables taste great and the bright colors make an impressive presentation, alongside a perfectly prepared steak. My favorites for grilling are: asparagus, green onions, fennel, red bell peppers and Portobello mushrooms.
VP: What are your thoughts on gas vs. charcoal grills, or when it’s appropriate to use one over the other?
TS: They are both great and have their place in any serious grillers backyard. The majority of the world’s greatest steakhouses grill with gas. Gas grills are ultra-convenient and ready to use in no time. With today’s busy lifestyles, that’s a real advantage. But, if you have the time and can do it safely, charcoal adds a slightly different flavor and the satisfaction of knowing you are grilling like the cavemen did!
VP: How do you keep your grills in top shape?
TS: I think it’s very important to keep your grill clean. I always use a strong wire brush on the grates before I use the grill to prevent foods from sticking and to avoid flare-ups. To me, the food always tastes better, too, when it’s been prepared on a clean grill.Covering your grill after each use will also keep it cleaner and greatly extend its life.