Why It Works
- Positioning the tenderloins away from the heat source prevents them from overcooking.
- Starting with lower heat and finishing with high heat delivers a steak with a better edge-to-edge gradient of doneness.
The challenge with a T-bone steak is that it has two distinct pieces of meat on it, which cook at different rates: the leaner tenderloin and the fattier strip. The key to perfectly grilling a T-bone is to start cooking it with lower heat until it's nearly at the desired final temperature, making sure to position the tenderloin farthest from the heat source, then finish it over high heat for a delicious seared crust. Here's how.
- 2 whole T-bone steaks, at least 1 1/2 inches thick (about 30 ounces each; see note)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
At least 45 minutes before cooking, season steaks generously with salt and pepper on all sides, including edges. Set steaks on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, until ready to cook. Alternatively, season steaks immediately before placing on hot grill.
Light 1 chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread coals evenly over half of coal grate. Alternatively, set half the burners of a gas grill to high heat. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate.
Arrange steaks on cooler side of grill with tenderloins (the smaller medallions of meat) positioned farthest from the coals. Cover and set top and bottom vents to half-closed position. Cook steaks, turning once (but always keeping tenderloin farthest from the coals), until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the coolest part of the strip (the larger section of meat) registers 115°F/46°C and the tenderloin registers 110°F/43°C for medium-rare, about 15 minutes. Cooking times can vary drastically depending on the heat of the grill, so begin checking after 10 minutes.
If coals are not blazing-hot at this point, add more to the fire and allow fire to become hot again. Transfer steaks directly over coals and cook, turning, until very well seared on both sides. Using tongs, hold steaks on their edges to sear the sides as well.
Let rest 10 minutes, then serve.
This method works just as well with porterhouse steaks, which are simply T-bones with larger portions of tenderloin attached.