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Grill the perfect steak — every time

Warm weather means it's time to barbecue. Klaus Fritsch of Morton's, The Steakhouse, offers a primer on buying and grilling meat.
/ Source: TODAY

What’s the difference between beef tenderloin and a T-bone? If a trip into the meat aisle has you utterly confused, you aren’t alone. Klaus Fritsch, co-founder of Morton's, The Steakhouse, was invited on “Today” to clear up the bewildering terminology of meat cuts and grades, and to share tips for grilling the perfect steak. And he should know — since opening Morton’s in 1978, he has been responsible for cooking up more than 23,000,000 steaks.

Know the cut

Tenderloin, also known as beef tenderloin and filet mignon, is the leanest and most fat free of all the steaks, and one of the easiest to cook.

N.Y. Sirloin has some fat, which makes the steak more tender and flavorful. You will see the marbling — fat — before you cook the steak, but after it’s cooked you won’t be able to see it.

Rib eye is the most fatty but also the very flavorful. A lot of its fat cooks off on the grill.

Porterhouse/T-bone steak is basically the best of both worlds.  This steak has the filet part and the sirloin part attached to the bone. The meat on the bone is the sweetest and cooks wonderfully. These steaks are great to serve at parties because every person gets a piece of filet and sirloin in one. T-bone is the same as a porterhouse only the filet is smaller, 1-1/2 to 2 inches on a T-bone and about 3 inches on a Porterhouse.  Home cooks should use a 20- to 24-ounce steak, which is thin and easy to cook.

Lamb chops are easy to cook and taste wonderful with fresh vegetables like grilled asparagus. Try buying domestic lamb (I think it has the best flavor). You should grill lamb chops the same way you would grill steaks (detailed below).

Veal chops are the leanest meat. The thin layer of fat on the outside cooks off.

Pork chops are tricky; they can be very tough if overcooked, but you also can't grill it to medium because it's not safe to eat. They must be cooked carefully until just well-done.

Grades of meatThe grade of meat is an indicator of its tenderness and the flavor of the meat.

Prime meat is the best you can buy and the meat is very tender. You don't usually find this in a regular supermarket and would need to go to a good butcher shop.

Choice — You can usually find this grade of meat in better supermarkets, or in good butcher shops.

Select — This grade can be found everywhere and is the normal consumer grade of meat.

These labels bring with them very different prices: Prime runs $18 to $20 a pound, choice goes for around $14 to $15 a pound, and select costs $7 to $8 a pound.

Tips for grilling the perfect steakFirst get the grill as hot as possible. Before grilling, let the steak warm up at room temperature for an hour.  If you are using a good cut of beef, stay away from seasonings and marinades. A little salt is all you should need.

Once the steak is on the grill, turn it only once. Char it on one side, then flip it and char it on the other. On average, grill it 5 to 10 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness and the grill. Most home grills have different heat.

Use tongs to turn the steak. Never poke the steak with a fork because it lets the juice run out of the steak. The best way to know if it is done is to touch the meat: soft meat means it is medium rare; some resistance shows it is medium; and firm to touch shows that it is well done.

A good steak should be at least 1 inch to 1-1/2 inches thick. For meat of this thickness, an average of 4-1/2 minutes on each side would make it medium rare. Six minutes on each side is guaranteed to make the steak come out medium well.