Grillin' and chillin' with steak tips as the holiday approachesBy MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader July 02. 2018 9:41PM
The flag is flying.
The sun is searing.
The grill is glowing.
No better time for what has become a favorite for New Englanders — steak tips.
And why not? They are inexpensive, relatively easy to cook and soak up marinade like a sweatband on a 95-degree day.
“Even someone who’s not that great on a grill can do a good steak tip,” said Rick Lemay, owner of Lemay & Sons Beef in Goffstown.
He said steak tips are the biggest single seller at Lemay’s farmer’s market-style meat market, followed by rib eye and prime rib.
At Billy’s Sports Bar and Grill in Manchester, steak tips are a reliable seller. On a good night, 15 pounds or more can be grilled and served, said manager Marc Hartley.
“They’re in our top five, right behind fish and chip night,” he said. “We marinade them, and there’s really nothing like it.”
Like Lemay’s, Billy’s marinades its tips with a homemade recipe. Billy’s relies on a soy-sauce base and garlic; Lemay’s favorite is a zesty marinade that uses vinegar and spices. Another relies on stout beer and brown sugar.
Lemay said that is one of the draws of steak tips. A marinade guarantees a flavor, even if the cooking falls short of expectations.
As for cooking, Lemay is a charcoal purist. “Only charcoal,” he said.
Heat up enough coals for only half the grill space. Use the direct heat to sear the outsides, moving them from the heat once they develop a rich tone.
“You’re almost cauterizing the outside of the meat and sealing in the moisture,” Lemay said.
Move the meat off the coals, close the lid and roast the meat to the desired internal temperature. (The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends 145 degrees.)
At that point, Lemay removes the meat from the heat and lets it sit. The USDA recommends a minimum of three minutes, but Lemay will let them rest as long as 15 minutes. That allows the muscle fibers to close and juices to stay in the meat, he said. If you want to keep the food hot (easy in this weather), wrap it in foil, he said.
The challenge with steak tips is their inconsistency, Hartley said. They are different thicknesses, and some are three-sided.
“The chefs have to move them around the grill,” he said. Billy’s applies metal weights to the thicker tips, which allows them to sear and cook uniformly, he said.
“With tips, you have to use the best quality meat, a tender cut,” Hartley said.
Lemay said steak tips come from the flap of the cow’s mid-section, adjacent to the area used for flank steak. The grain of the meat is coarse, so it takes well to the marinade.
So although they’re often labeled as such, they are only close to the sirloin. “It’s a terminology in the meat industry. It’s really not a sirloin cut,” Lemay said.