Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock
PHOTO: iStock
(CNN) —  

Summer is full of iconic ways to relax, whether that means taking a dip in the pool, sipping an ice-cold beverage or spending time with the family.

According to California grill master Matt Lokay of California Grillin, however, there’s no better way to kick back in the summertime than by throwing a steak on the grill in the backyard.

Matt Lokay
Matt Lokay

“For many of us, grilling is the pinnacle of summer,” Lokay says, adding that it’s a process that can be mastered by anyone. “I can teach just about anybody how to grill a steak that’s better than what you’ll find at a restaurant.”

Here are Lokay’s suggestions — and a few editors’ picks — for everything needed to grill the perfect summertime steak.

Get the right grill

Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill ($165, originally $174.99; amazon.com)

Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill
Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill

It goes without saying that achieving the dream of being a grill master requires investing in an excellent grill. Lokay recommends the Weber Kettle, especially for those who are new to the grilling game.

His preferred method of grilling is called reverse searing, a slower method of cooking steak that allows for a more consistently cooked final product. In this method, the steak spends most of its time cooking at low heat before it’s finally seared at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s when Lokay says this grill does its best work.

“Nothing beats searing a steak at high heat on this old Weber,” he explains.

Know the best cuts for grilling a steak

Rib-Eye Steak, 8-Count ($99; rastellis.com)

Rib-Eye Steak, 8-Count
Rib-Eye Steak, 8-Count

The only thing more important than the grill is the quality and cut of the steak cooked on it. Rib-eye is a favorite cut of Lokay’s. It’s sliced from the rib area, and Lokay values it for its tenderness, texture and marbling. “That marbling gives flavor, and rib-eye has plenty of it,” he says.

All Rastelli’s steaks come from Black Angus cattle raised in the midwestern plains. They’re raised in large open fields in a low-stress environment designed by world-renowned animal care experts. The cows are also not given any antibiotics, steroids or hormones, which means this is a top-notch steak. We recently tried Rastelli’s ourselves for another story and were pretty impressed.

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Organic New York Strip Steaks, 4-Count ($54; rastellis.com)

Organic New York Strip Steaks, 4-Count
Organic New York Strip Steaks, 4-Count

New York strip is known for being especially tender, as it’s cut from the less muscular “short loin” area of the cow. This cut is also known as strip loin and features good marbling and flavor.

Regardless of cut, place frozen steaks in the refrigerator the night before grilling so they have time to thaw. Lokay suggests bringing the steak to just over 40 degrees Fahrenheit before seasoning it.

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Filet Mignon, 6-Count ($69; rastellis.com)

Filet Mignon, 6-Count
Filet Mignon, 6-Count

The final steak cut Lokay suggests is filet mignon. “It has a lack of flavor compared to cuts with more marbling,” he explains, “but it’s very tender and usually the most popular cut at a steakhouse.” Its popularity comes from that tenderness, and that tenderness is because this steak is cut from the tenderloin — a small section closest to the ribs that is low in intramuscular fat. It tends to be a more expensive cut per ounce, but there’s a reason many customers love it.

Gear needed (in order) to grill the perfect steak

ThermoPro TP18 Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer ($19.99, originally $21.99; amazon.com)

ThermoPro TP18 Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer
ThermoPro TP18 Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer

Sure, the steaks have thawed overnight in the fridge, but are they a perfect 40 degrees Fahrenheit inside? A digital instant read thermometer is essential. It’s useful here, and it will become even more important when meat is on the grill. This ThermoPro TP18 is fast, accurate and safe, and it comes with up to a three-year warranty. Just pop it into the steak and it will instantly display the temperature of the meat.

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Pompeian Robust Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, 68-Ounce ($14.98; amazon.com)

Pompeian Robust Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, 68-Ounce
Pompeian Robust Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, 68-Ounce

Once the steak is at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, take a paper towel and lightly pat both sides of the beef to dry it. Lokay says that removing this moisture will give the steak a better crust when it’s time to sear it.

Now coat both sides with a healthy dose of olive oil. Pour the oil on one side of the meat and rub it in with gloved hands before flipping the steak to repeat the process on the other side. This will prevent the steak from sticking on the grill and will bind in the seasoning that is about to be added.

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Jacobsen Hand-Harvested Pure Sea Salt, 4-Ounce ($17.30; amazon.com)

Jacobsen Hand-Harvested Pure Sea Salt, 4-Ounce
Jacobsen Hand-Harvested Pure Sea Salt, 4-Ounce

Lightly salt both sides of the meat. Apply it to both sides and rub it in. This will add flavoring and allow this future-juicy steak to retain more moisture. Jacobsen’s salt is harvested in the waters off the Oregon coast and is used by many chefs.

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Hardcore Carnivore Black Seasoning ($10.99; amazon.com)

Hardcore Carnivore Black Seasoning
Hardcore Carnivore Black Seasoning

Lokay swears by this seasoning to add flavor to his steak. “It’s the ultimate red meat seasoning,” he says, adding that it’s made with great ingredients that will enhance the flavor instead of overpowering it. “This is what’s going to give your steak a delicious crust.” Apply it liberally to all parts of the steak and once again rub it in with both hands.

Then put the steak back in the fridge and let it sit for up to an hour. This will allow the seasoning to migrate toward the middle of the steak, creating a juicier, more flavorful piece of meat. “But you don’t want to let it sit for more than an hour,” Lokay warns. “You want to season it, not cure it like a ham.”

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Okiass Vinyl Powder-Free Disposable Gloves, 100-Count ($21.99, originally $23.99; amazon.com)

Okiass Vinyl Powder-Free Disposable Gloves, 100-Count
Okiass Vinyl Powder-Free Disposable Gloves, 100-Count

Rubbing steak with olive oil, salt and seasoning can be a sticky job. These powderless gloves will keep hands clean without contaminating the meat.

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Aluminum Foil Grill Drip Pans, 25-Count ($13.49; amazon.com)

Aluminum Foil Grill Drip Pans, 25-Count
Aluminum Foil Grill Drip Pans, 25-Count

Place one of these drip pans under the grill grate to catch grease (since charcoal won’t be under it) and to shorten cleanup time when the grilling’s done.

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Royal Oak 100% All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal ($30.56, originally $41.99; amazon.com)

Royal Oak 100% All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal
Royal Oak 100% All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal

Ready to grill? Well, we’re getting close. It’s time to heat up that Weber Kettle while the meat is sitting. Lokay prefers to use lump charcoal as a heat source because it burns hotter and cleaner than factory-made briquettes. This Royal Oak charcoal heats to the desired temperature fast and creates a natural, wood-smoked flavor in the steak. Stack enough charcoal pieces nice and tight on one side of the grill so that they’re not sprawling around. The steak won’t be placed directly over the coals for most of the process, so leave room on the other side of the grill.

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JJGeorge Grill Torch Charcoal Starter ($37.99, originally $49.99; amazon.com)

JJGeorge Grill Torch Charcoal Starter
JJGeorge Grill Torch Charcoal Starter

Time to heat those coals! The JJGeorge Grill Torch will have charcoal lit in less than one minute, and it provides up to 100 charcoal starts from just one replaceable propane canister. Lokay says to adjust the bottom vents on the grill so they’re about a quarter open, and to put the lid over the grill so the lid’s vent is on the opposite side from the charcoal (this will add to the flavor by drawing the smoke over the steak). The goal is to adjust the vents to get the temperature between 225 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. It shouldn’t take long, so while the grill is heating up, grab the steak from the fridge.

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Inkbird IBT-4XS Bluetooth Wireless Grill Thermometer ($51.99, originally $64.99; amazon.com)

Inkbird IBT-4XS Bluetooth Wireless Grill Thermometer
Inkbird IBT-4XS Bluetooth Wireless Grill Thermometer

The ThermoPro meat thermometer is great for measuring the temperature inside a steak, but it’s not helpful for measuring the temperature of the grilling surface. Use this thermometer to measure the surface heat and wait for it to reach more than 225 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s when the steak goes on. Continue to adjust the grill’s vents as needed to keep the surface temperature between 225 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The more open the vents are, the more oxygen that will enter and the hotter the grill will get.

“Don’t forget to keep that steak away from the charcoal,” reminds Lokay. “I can’t stress that enough. We’re cooking this steak ‘low and slow.’” Leave the steak untouched until it reaches one of the following temperatures for preferred doneness:

Rare: 120 degrees Fahrenheit

Medium-rare: 130 degrees Fahrenheit

Medium: 140 degrees Fahrenheit

Medium-well: 150 degrees Fahrenheit

Well done: “Don’t do it!” Lokay pleads

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Outset Extra Long Rosewood Tongs ($24.99, originally $37.98; amazon.com)

Outset Extra Long Rosewood Tongs
Outset Extra Long Rosewood Tongs

When the steak is done, use these tongs to safely take it off the grill while it waits to be seared.

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GrillGrates for the Weber Kettle Grill ($129.99; amazon.com)

GrillGrates for the Weber Kettle Grill
GrillGrates for the Weber Kettle Grill

Next, it’s time for a quick, professional sear. To do that, add these GrillGrates to the cooking surface directly above the charcoal. Don’t forget to also attach the Inkbird IBT-4XS thermometer to the GrillGrates to get an accurate temperature read and wait for it to reach at least 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

“GrillGrates are amazing for searing,” Lokay says. “They increase the grill’s surface temperature, they create a more consistent temperature across the surface and they deliver superior sear marks to your steak that will make your friends jealous!” Raise the heat on the grill by opening the bottom vents entirely and taking off the grill’s lid. Once the temperature tops 450 degrees Fahrenheit, place the steak on the GrillGrates over the coal and sear it to perfection.

To get professional-looking diamond grill marks, set the GrillGrates diamond pattern to run from 12 to 6 o’clock. Place the steak on the grill so it’s angled at 10 and 4 o’clock and let it sear. After 90 seconds, turn the steak clockwise so that it’s now angled at 2 and 8 o’clock. Leave it there for another 90 seconds. Then flip the steak over and repeat that process. For a more even crust, flip the steak often and rest it at a variety of angles.

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Personalized Monogram Engraved Cutting Board (starting at $29; etsy.com)

Personalized Monogram Engraved Cutting Board
Personalized Monogram Engraved Cutting Board

Now that the steak is seared, it’s time to use those extra long tongs again to get it off the grill and onto this custom-made cutting board. This beauty from StragaCuttingBoards includes a groove around the outside of the board to catch any steak juices for easier cleanup.

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Global Model X Chef’s Knife ($119.95; amazon.com)

Global Model X Chef
Global Model X Chef's Knife

“Something I love about reverse searing is that you don’t have to wait for the steak to rest before you eat it,” Lokay explains. Slice it with a stainless steel chef’s knife, like this one that’s made in Japan, and the biggest benefit of the reverse searing process becomes visible. “It will be consistently cooked from edge to edge,” Lokay says. “If we had only seared the steak, it would have been well done on the exterior and slowly worked its way to a tiny band of medium-rare in the middle. By cooking ours slowly, this steak is much more consistent.”

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Shun Shima 4-Piece Steak Knife Set ($169.95; amazon.com)

Shun Shima 4-Piece Steak Knife Set
Shun Shima 4-Piece Steak Knife Set

The work is over and it’s time to eat! Shun is one of Lokay’s preferred knife brands, and this razor-sharp, recurved and corrosion-resistant blade makes cutting through steak almost as enjoyable as eating the steak itself. (Almost.)

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Member’s Mark Oven, Grill & Fryer Cleaner, 3-Pack ($13.57; amazon.com)

Member
Member's Mark Oven, Grill & Fryer Cleaner, 3-Pack

Cleaning isn’t nearly as fun as eating, but somebody’s gotta do it. Fortunately, “this stuff is unreal,” Lokay says. “It’ll take all the grease right off your grill.”

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Grillart Grill Brush and Scraper ($22.95; amazon.com)

Grillart Grill Brush and Scraper
Grillart Grill Brush and Scraper

That Member’s Mark cleaner will make scraping the residual grease off the grill and GrillGrates a piece of cake. This Grillart tool has five brushes in one and a 360-degree rotator.

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’Hardcore Carnivore: Cook Meat Like You Mean It’ by Jess Pryles ($23.94; amazon.com)

'Hardcore Carnivore: Cook Meat Like You Mean It' by Jess Pryles

Lokay says this cookbook can help anyone amp up their backyard barbecue skills. “Jess tells you everything you need to know about meat and grilling, and it’s a lot of fun to read,” he says. Plenty of the book is dedicated to steak, so there’s a plethora of ideas to try out during the summer grilling season and beyond.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.