A T-bone steak is a combination of the tenderloin loin also called the fillet and strip steak (NY Strip). It is often on sale for about $7 – $8 a pound and is a great value. The difference between a T-bone and porterhouse is only the size of the tenderloin portion. If the tenderloin is more than about 1.25 inches wide, it can be called a porterhouse. But, to me, if it isn’t shaped like a heart with a tenderloin that is rounded out to the side, it’s not a porterhouse.
When you look at the T-bones, look for one that has a nice sized tenderloin and, if possible, have your butcher cut you one special. Ask for the largest tenderloin that they have and get it cut 1.25 inches thick or thicker. You can go up to 2 inches thick if you want. A T-bone will be about one pound per inch. So, a 2 inch thick steak will be about 2 pounds. Cooking something that thick can be a bit tricky but, it is well worth it.
Forget about all the spice and herbs, simple sea salt and cracked pepper is all you need.
Start by cutting off the tenderloin. In the photo here, the tenderloin is on the left. The small piece at the bottom is for the chef to munch on during the grilling. You must separate the tenderloin and cook it for a shorter time. Otherwise, you will have a well done tenderloin when the strip reaches mid-rare. You can put them back together on the plate for presentation.
Remove the steak from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before grilling. I left this out for an hour and the internal temp only came up to about 58 degrees from my 38 degree frig. I like to start the steak at an internal temperature of about 65 degrees if possible. But, there are those that say the exact opposite. Even one of our favorite sites, www.AmazingRibs.com says we are completely wrong and that you should never leave meat out.
Get your grill up to a nice heat range of 600 – 800 degrees. I like a laser temperature gauge. They are about $15 and really helpful in finding the hot and cool spots on your grill. You can also measure the temperature of the grates. If you don’t have one, then at 700 degrees, you will only be able to hold your hand one inch over the grate for one second. Weber’s site shows you how to use the hand-test.
3. Start the Strip Steak First
The strip will take about 20 – 30% longer to cook than the fillet. This is where the guessing comes in, you want the T-bone strip to pull ahead of the fillet by enough time that when the fillet is done, you also pull the T-bone off the grill. To do this, you need to estimate how much more time the T-bone will require and then put the fillet on after that much time had passed.
Many chefs will say that you only flip a steak or burger one time. I agree but, with a 2 inch thick steak, you must flip it more than once. I flip them three times. this gives it two times on the heat for each side. I usually flip at three minutes for a 1.5 inch steak, a little less for a smaller steak. So, on this one, I planned on 4 minutes a side for a total cooking time of 12 minutes maximum before the last flip. I know, many grillers are thinking that is way too much. Well, remember, this is a full 2 inches thick, with a bone. I start taking the temperature after 10 minutes in order to see where it’s going.
4. Add the Fillet After a Few Minutes
In this case, I put the fillet on after 6 minutes. Yep, there’s some broccoli in a basket on too. I cut them a bit thick and put them over medium heat for 14 – 16 minutes total. If I plan it right, the steaks come off and are resting just when the veggies finish up.
5. Close the Lid
I like to cook good steaks as quick as possible. I close the lid and let the temp run up to 500 – 600 degrees under the cover and bake them while grilling. I leave it closed for the full 4 minutes before the flip.
6. Cook by Temp and Feel
I like steaks to be pink throughout. Therefore, I am looking for a mid-rare range. This requires that you know the feel of raw vs. cooked meat. Meat gets harder as it becomes more well done. You need to push on the steak and see what it feels like. As it starts to feel like a stale marshmallow, it’s getting close to rare. I like Clover Valley’s Touch Test for a couple of different methods to test the touch test. As soon as I think that it’s close to mid-rare, I take the temperature. I like to hit 135 degrees and pull it instantly. Let it rest 5 minutes and the temp will rise another 7 – 9 degrees. A bit more on the fillet. Many guides tell you to pull it at 140 but, my experience is that it will rise too much during the rest. Amazingribs.com has the best temperature guide available. I was lucky on these steaks, they hit 135 and 137 at the same time and I pulled them immediately. Even though they look really well done on the plate, there are nice inside.
7. The final product