The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke
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Big Green Egg - Pt. 10 - Steak on the Egg

First Image
The first steak I made on my new Big Green Egg was the best steak I’ve ever eaten. I’ve made steaks twice since then and they have been equally excellent. This also marked my first high heat direct grilled cook on my Egg and there were some new lessons to be learned there. I also had a race to the wire with Mother Nature. This blog will describe the cook and the various grill related issues I had to deal with before I got going and what I learned.

I couldn’t wait to try a steak on my new grill, but I was holding off a while until I got some under 400 degree (205 C) time on the gasket. My 5th cook on the Egg was to be steak. I’d gotten in a long low and slow brisket cook on my second cook and felt after that I could go high and short. I wasn’t going to cook just any steak. I went to a local high end butcher shop and got a Prime Grade, 1 pound (0.45 kg), 1” (2.5 cm) thick rib-eye steak. I was making a recipe from the Big Green Egg Cookbook called RIB-EYE STEAKS WITH SHALLOT & GARLIC BUTTER that used half of the butter as both a baste on the grill and topping sauce at the table. I wanted to keep the steaks somewhat simple so the flavor of the beef came through. I was grilling for one that night, but my plan was to get the kinks out on this cook and then make it again soon for my family.

“Second

The first steak on my new Egg had to be special. What is more special than a 1 pound (0.45 kg), 1” (2.5 cm) prime grade rib-eye? For me it doesn’t get better than this.


My plan was to have some oven fries and grilled corn (on the gas grill) with this meal. I began preheating the oven and headed out to light the Egg. I lit one paraffin cube as had been my practice before and waited the typical 8-9 minutes for the paraffin starter to do its thing.I put the cast iron grill grate in to get nice sear marks on my steak. My plan was to get the Egg started and the temps heading upward and I’d then light the gas grill and head inside to do the prep. The only problem was the temps weren’t going up like they had on previous cooks. The temps had risen fairly quickly to 200 (93 C), but they stalled out after that and were crawling ever so slowly upwards. This was something new, I had stirred the lump before starting so I really didn’t think I needed to do more. I double checked to see if the lower draft door was fully open and I could see I had the Dual Function Metal Top fully open. I ran inside to get the butter sauce started for the steak because after it simmers it needed to rest 30 minutes. When I came back out after 10 minutes the temps were just under 300 degrees (149 C). I had one last idea and I pulled the Dual Function Metal Top completely off the chimney. The temps began to move upward, but nowhere near as fast as when I’d made my other meals prior to this. With one problem solved, I found I had another one completely out of my hands.

The sky was getting VERY dark off in the distance and the sun was being replaced with light grey clouds directly overhead. I pulled out my iPhone and the iOS weather app I’ve written about here: Dark Skies was showing me extremely heavy rain was 25 minutes away. There is a graph that shows rainfall intensity and it went from nothing to heavy in a way I’d never seen it do before. So some decisions were in order. The steak took 3-4 minutes per side to cook and I didn’t want to cut things too close so I used 10 minutes. This meant I had 15 minutes before that to finish my prep and hope the Egg would hit 550 (288 C) and stabilize in that time. This seemed reasonable. Next was the fries. The oven was preheated and the fries took 25 minutes. The steak had a 5 minute rest after it came off the Egg, so if I was going to do this I needed to put the fries on in the next 5 minutes. This would allow them to finish up with the steak. So far Dark Sky had been dependable within a minute or two, so I decided to go with it’s 25 minutes before the rains started.

I went in, put the fries in the oven and seasoned the steak. I went out to the grill to keep and eye on the temps. 5 minutes before I needed to throw the steaks on the Egg hit 550 (287 C) the target temp. I put the Dual Function Metal Top on and the temps started heading south, fast. I pulled the top off and they got back to 550 quickly. I decided for today I would leave the chimney wide open and control the temps via the lower draft door. The steak was only on for 3-4 minutes per side so I figured things couldn’t go too far off the mark. I ran in and got the steak and half of the butter mixture. While this was going on the sky was getting darker and darker and the thunder was getting louder and almost continuous at times. This was going to be cutting things close.

“Third

TI brushed the steak with the butter sauce before I very carefully placed it on the grill. This way I didn’t lose temperatures keeping the lid up while I basted the steak on the grill.


I brushed the top side of the steak before I put it on the grill. I figured this way I wouldn’t need to keep the lid open to do this when I placed the steak on the Egg. I had the Egg at 550 when I put the steak on. I was greeted with a satisfying sizzle and lots of wonderful smelling smoke was coming out the chimney. I was going to try to lay on some cross hatch grill marks so I opened the lid after a quick 90 seconds and turned the steaks. But it wasn’t that easy. I was standing in front of the Egg when I burped the lid and then opened it up fully and was greeted by a face full of smoke. I was blinded and couldn’t see until I moved off to the side of the Egg that was upwind. For the remaining turns I would stand upwind when I opened the lid. I was starting to see lightning and I was glad I was almost done. I was standing under a metal EZ-Up which would protect me from the rain but the trick would be getting back to the house. At the 3 minute mark I turned the steaks and they looked wonderful with nice cross-hatched grill marks. Standing upwind of the grill had solved the smoke in my eyes issue, a lesson I’ve filed away for future use. I brushed on the butter sauce and closed the lid. After 90 more seconds I gave the steak it’s third and final turn. When the final 3 minutes was up, I gave the the steak a post and decided to keep it on for another 30 seconds. Meanwhile the lightning was getting more vivid. This was cutting it close!

“Fourth“Fifth

The steak is on the grill which has the cast iron grate installed in is running at 550 (287 c) degrees (left). The steak is done & is ready to come off the grill (right).


I pulled the steak off the grill, walked quickly to the door and breathed a sigh of relief as I opened the door. As I stepped into the Kitchen and the screen door closed behind me, I heard a sound like I’d never heard before. The best I can do is describe it as a “whoosh”. I spun around and it was if someone had turned over a giant bucket of water. I have NEVER seen rain this hard. I couldn’t see my neighbors house about 250 feet (76 m) away across the street. It was as if a giant cloud had descended into their front yard. The sound of the rain on the roof was quite loud, louder than I’d ever heard. I brushed the steak with the butter sauce while the steak completed it’s 5 minute rest. When I reached into the oven to grab the fries there was a flash of lightning and an instantaneous clap of thunder and the lights went out. Fortunately the fries were done because my oven is electric and the lights would remain out for the next 3 hours. Second bullet dodged in 5 minutes, boy did I feel lucky. I wasn’t so lucky when I turned on my lantern, it lit dimly and went out. I wasn’t sure where the spare lantern batteries were and I decided to go ahead and eat my steak while it was at it’s best.

“Fourth“Fifth

The steak has rested for 5 minutes and has been topped with the butter sauce (left). These pictures were taken in the darkness and at this point only my camera could see the steaks were a perfect medium rare. (right).


Even though it was 6:00, it was pitch black as I made my way to my seat. Flashes of lightning gave me quick glimpses of my steak. I snapped a few pictures with my camera, marveling that the infra red auto focus system could see clearly where I could not. As for the steak it was AMAZING!! It had a bit of a crispy crust and a strong beef flavor. The butter sauce gave it nice flavor without over powering the beef flavor. The inside was so moist and juicy. It didn’t seem under cooked which was confirmed a bit later when I developed my photos on my laptop running on batteries. It was strange eating when your food was just a murky dark silhouette. This was far and away the best steak I’d ever made or eaten by a good margin. Now before you “blame” the prime grade rib-eye for some of this, I’ve bought that same steak from the same butcher shop before and it had never been this good. It wasn’t the 550 degree (287 C) temp of the Egg either. My gas grill can hit that temp any time of the year and I’ve cooked steaks that high or higher. Nope this had to be due to the Egg. Later when I processed the pictures I saw it had indeed been cooked to a perfect medium rare. The only liquid that ran onto the plate was not blood from being undercooked, but some of the butter sauce that ran off. The Egg had coked the steak without losing the juices and the 5 minute rest drew them back into the meat. Needless to say I was thrilled at what this pointed to in terms of future cooks.

POST GAME ANALYSIS:
Here are some of the valuable lessons I learned from this cook:
  • One of the factors contributing to the slow temperature rise was the fire grate at the bottom of the firebox had most of the holes clogged.
  • About half of the holes in the side of the firebox were also clogged.
  • I’d been led to believe a full cleanout of the Egg, where you remove the lump and completely clean it out, was a rare thing. Now I will do it before any important high temperature cook.
  • I learned there are some third party fire grates for the Egg that are more open and don’t clog as easily. They look like a small stainless steel grill grate. These items void the warrantee on the Egg though so you need to think twice before going that route.
  • I learned most folks tailor the number of paraffin squares they light to the temperature they are shooting for. So instead of lighting 1 paraffin starter, I would now light 4 squares.
  • I learned keeping the Dual Function Metal Top off gives you the fastest temperature rise when you are doing a high temperature cook.
  • I learned to stand on the upwind side of the Egg when opening the lid.
  • I learned I have a lot of fun cooks to look forward to in the future.

ONE MORE THING:
Since that time I’ve made that steak recipe twice more and it has been outstanding and equally good every time. Cleaning out the Egg before a high temperature cook has helped with the slow temperature rise issues I had. Lighting 4 paraffin squares has also helped as has leaving the top cap off. It is amazing to me I now have the ability to make a steak at home that you would pay 2x or 3x more for at home.

SOME RELATED LINKS
Here are some links to the series of blogs I am writing about my new Big Green Egg Kamado Cooker.
  Q: WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? A: TAKEN BY A CULT- This Blog entry details how I came around to getting my Big Green Egg.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 1 - ASSEMBLY - My BGE came with free assembly. In this Blog I describe in a big picture fashion what is involved with assembly, so you can decide if you want to attempt it yourself.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 2 - 1ST COOK - What I chose to make for my first meal on my new BGE, why I chose it, my first impressions & how it turned out..
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 3 - MYTHS & LEGENDS - There are lots of things said about how good the BGE is. After using it for a while I use this Blog to address some of the popular claims about the BGE.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 4 - 1ST LOW & SLOW - The Big Green Egg may cost more up front, but it costs far less over time due to it's stingy use of charcoal.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 5 - TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP - The Big Green Egg may cost more up front, but it costs far less over time due to it's stingy use of charcoal.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 6 - BEST IN CLASS PIZZA - The Big Green Egg turns out the best grilled pizza I’ve ever had or made.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 7 - EGGCESSORIES - BIG PICTURE - My take on Big Green Egg accessories. Are they too expensive or should some come with the Egg?
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 8 - EGGCESSORIES - GENERAL - The grill related accessories I bought along with my BGE.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 9 - EGGCESSORIES - COOKING - The cooking related accessories I bought along with my BGE.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 10 - STEAK ON THE EGG - My first steak on the Egg had a little drama, but was my best steak ever.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 11 - GASKET REPLACEMENT - BIG PICTURE - The background & what was involved doing my gasket replacement.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 12 - GASKET REPLACEMENT - BLOW BY BLOW - The actual story of how my gasket replacement experience went.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 13 - BIG GREEN EGG COOKBOOK - See why I consider the Big Green Egg Cookbook an essential tool for using a BGE.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 14 - IMPRESSIONS AFTER 90 DAYS - My impressions after 90 days using the Big Green Egg.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 15 - GRATE ACCESSORIES - GRIDDLE - Cast Iron Griddle Grate.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 16 - GRATE ACCESSORIES - RAISED GRID - Half Moon Raised Grid for indirect grilling.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 17 - STIR-FRYING ON THE BIG GREEN EGG - Getting set up for Stir-Frying with a Wok on the Big Green Egg.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 18 - FIRST STIR-FRY - My experiences on my first Stir-Fry using the Big Green Egg.
  BIG GREEN EGG - PT. 19 - IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE - I know it may sound crazy, but the Big Green Egg will really change your life.

Here are some links to the blog & picture entries discussed above:
  DARK SKY - A COOL WEATHER APP iOS weather app Blog Entry
  DARK SKY - NEW & IMPROVED iOS weather app Blog Entry
  RIB-EYE STEAKS WITH SHALLOT & GARLIC BUTTER Beef Picture Entry

  BACK TO BBQ BLOG 2012
  ARCHIVE OF BLOGS: 2012
  INDEX OF BLOGS: ALL YEARS

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