10 easy steps to grilling a better steak

Nothing beats grilled meat. But to get the best flavor (adequate char on the outside, still juicy on the inside), you need to treat your steaks with care. Here, we offer 10 easy steps to a better steak:

-- If the grill isn't clean and oiled, the meat will stick. Give the grates a good scrubbing with a stiff wire brush or ball of crumpled aluminum foil, and rub with a rolled-up paper towel dunked in vegetable oil. For more flavor, grease grates with a piece of slab bacon.

-- Look for steaks that are moist but not wet and have an even, vibrant color (rich pink or light cherry). Marbling -- the creamy white fat that runs through the meat, giving it its flavor -- should be evenly distributed.

-- Allow steaks to marinate at least an hour and up to 24 hours. Anything over 3 hours should go in the fridge.

-- Bring steaks to room temperature before grilling, and pat dry with a paper towel before seasoning.

-- If you're not using a recipe, generously salt the steaks 15 to 20 minutes before grilling.

-- If dripping juices cause a flare-up, don't panic. Simply move the steak to the outside edge of the grill, returning it to the center when the flame dies down.

-- For perfect grill marks, lay a brick wrapped in aluminum foil on top of the meat.

-- Never pierce a steak with a fork or knife or slice it open. You want the juices to stay inside. Always use tongs to move a steak around on the grill or remove it when it's done cooking.

-- When is it done? It depends on whether you like it rare (120 to 125 degrees on your instant-read thermometer), medium rare (125 to 135 degrees), medium (135 to 145 degrees), medium well (145 to 155 degrees) or well done (155-plus degrees).

-- Good things come to those who wait. Let the meat rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing it.

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