Steaks from the round are generally considered too tough for grilling, and many websites and cookbooks relegate them to stews, braises and other slow-cooking techniques. This doesn't mean they can't be successfully grilled, just that it takes a little more effort. Steaks from the top round are prepared much like other cuts, though they benefit from tenderizing. The bottom round is often sold as "London broil," and is prepared in much the same way as flank steak.
Grilling Top Round: Step 1
Trim any excess fat from the beef. Pummel your steak with a meat mallet, or place them inside a heavy-duty freezer bag and strike it with a rolling pin. If you have a spiky jackard tenderizer, use that instead to perforate the steak's entire surface.
Grilling Top Round: Step 2
Season the steak liberally with coarse salt, then refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or up to a day ahead of time. The salt dissolves and gets absorbed into the meat, where it not only seasons the meat but provides a mild tenderizing effect. If you wish to add other flavors to the beef, spread it with a seasoning rub or paste as well as the salt.
Grilling Top Round: Step 3
Preheat your grill to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. On a charcoal grill, light your coals and let them burn down for approximately 30 minutes.
Grilling Top Round: Step 4
Remove your round steak from its bag and use paper towels to remove any excess seasonings or moisture from the surface. Oil the steak lightly to prevent it sticking and place it on the grill.
Grilling Top Round: Step 5
Grill inch-thick round steaks for 15 to 18 minutes, turning them every minute until they reach medium-rare or medium. Frequent turning is heresy in some circles, but prolonged exposure to the grill's heat causes the surface of round steak to contract and toughen. By turning it frequently you keep the heat moderate, and avoid toughening the round steak any further.
Grilling Top Round: Step 6
Test the steak by sliding an instant-read thermometer horizontally into a thick, fat-free area. Like other tough steaks, top round is very chewy when rare, but dry if cooked past medium, so it's best at medium-rare to medium. Your thermometer should show an internal temperature in the range of 125 F to 135 F.
Grilling Top Round: Tips
- Physically tenderizing the beef with a mallet or jackard tenderizer creates tiny tears or crevices in the muscle. If you choose to marinate the steak briefly in an acidic marinade, or sprinkle it lightly with commercial steak tenderizer, these crevices provide additional surface area for the tenderizers to attack.
- Round is a very lean steak, so the time-honored cheat of brushing the steak with melted butter, or melting a pat of butter on the steak when it's served, adds both flavor and richness.
- Round steaks have an unfortunate tendency to develop a liver-like "off" flavor as they cook, especially if you take them beyond medium doneness. Salting them well ahead of time, providing opportunity for the salt to act as a dry brine, counters this effectively.
Grilling Bottom Round: Step 1
Season the slab of round with coarse salt and rest it for at least 1 hour before cooking.
Grilling Bottom Round: Step 2
Preheat your grill to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. On a charcoal grill, light your coals and let them burn down for a half-hour.
Grilling Bottom Round: Step 3
Rub the steak with a dry spice rub or an oil-based seasoning paste, if you wish. If you use a dry rub, spray the meat lightly with oil to help the spices adhere and protect them from burning and developing unpleasant flavors. Both a paste and a rub will give the round an intensely flavored crust as it cooks.
Grilling Bottom Round: Step 4
Grill your bottom round for 14 to 18 minutes, turning frequently, until it's evenly browned and develops a slight crust. Your actual cooking time will vary with the steak's thickness, so test it with an instant-read thermometer toward the end of your cooking time. Bottom round is best at medium-rare to medium, or 125 to 135 F.
Grilling Bottom Round: Step 5
Remove the bottom round from your grill to a cutting board or preheated plate, and let it rest for a few minutes under a loosely tented piece of aluminum foil. Slice the steaks 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick, across the grain at a diagonal, to shorten the muscle fibers and make the beef easier to chew.
Grilling Bottom Round: Tips
In many cases, chewier cuts of beef are also extra-flavorful, but that's not the case with round steaks. Using your favorite London broil recipe and treating the steak with a rub, marinade or seasoning paste makes it much more enjoyable. Alternatively, serve it with a deeply flavorful sauce.