The Washington Post

Grilled Peppered Steak Over Mesquite

Grilled Peppered Steak Over Mesquite 4.000

James M. Thresher for The Washington Post

Smoke Signals Oct 6, 2010

When used primarily for grilling, hot-burning mesquite adds a distinctive sweet-earthy flavor to foods. Unless it's first burned to embers, it generally is not used for hours-long smoking, such as for pork shoulder, as it can lend a bitter taste. But it is ideal for quick grilling and light smoking for fish and steaks.

Make Ahead: The steaks need an hour to marinate in the refrigerator.

Servings: 4 - 8
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 boneless rib-eye steaks, about 1 1/2 inches thick (10 to 20 ounces each)
  • 4 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper, or more to taste
  • 4 teaspoons salt

Related Recipes


Use about 1 tablespoon of the oil to brush both sides of each steak, then use about 1 teaspoon of the pepper (or more to taste) to season both sides of each steak. Place the steaks on a plate and refrigerate for 1 hour. Let the steaks sit at room temperature for 1 hour before the grill is ready.

You'll need 4 chunks of mesquite for a charcoal grill or 1 cup of mesquite chips for a gas grill. If the grill grate can be adjusted, set it as close to the heat source as possible.

Prepare the grill for direct and indirect heat. If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them on one side of the cooking area. For a very hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 1 or 2 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Lightly coat the grill rack with oil and place it on the grill. If using a gas grill, preheat to high (650 degrees) for 30 minutes. Wrap the mesquite chips in an aluminum foil packet, with a few holes poked in it to allow smoke to escape.

When the coals are white-hot, add the mesquite chunks. Let them burn for about 10 minutes. When the fire starts to subside but is still lively, place the room-temperature steaks over direct heat. If using a gas grill, place the packet of mesquite chips between the grate and the burners/briquettes, close enough to the heat to induce smoke.

Grill the steaks on one side for about 3 minutes; use tongs (not a fork) to turn them over and grill for about 3 minutes on the second side. That will give the steaks a nice, deep char.

Transfer the steaks to the indirect-heat side of the grill and turn them over to the first side. Season each steak with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Close the lid and grill for 2 to 3 minutes, then uncover, season with the remaining salt and turn the steaks over. Close the lid and grill for 2 minutes. The steaks should have a charred, rich-brown exterior that glistens with juices.

An instant-read thermometer inserted from the side into the thickest part of the meat should register 130 to 135 degrees (for medium-rare).

Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source

From Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin.

Tested by Chris Stanford.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at

Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (based on 8): 290

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 19g 29%

Saturated Fat: 6g 30%

Cholesterol: 85mg 28%

Sodium: 1250mg 52%

Total Carbohydrates: 0g 0%

Dietary Fiber: 0g 0%

Sugar: 0g

Protein: 29g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

Most Read Lifestyle