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What am I doing wrong?

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  • djotaku
    Former Member
    • May 2017
    • 37
    • Baltimore, MD

    What am I doing wrong?

    I've got one of Meathead's recommended instant read thermometers. Generally it works perfectly for me. But I'm doing something wrong on thinner pieces of meat. The other day I was cooking some flank steak that was about 3/4" thick or so. So I have all my coals banked to one side so I can have a nice, hot sear - Kingsford competition coal plus some recycled coal from my last cook.

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    I started with the meat a little off to the side for the first two flips. Then I put it directly above the coals for the next 4 minutes - flipping every minute. I pulled it off to the side again when it was temp-taking time. At that time I got a reading of 118 or so, which made sense. Last time I did this, it took about 8 minutes. So I did two more minutes right above the coals. Then I moved it back to the side. But THIS TIME no matter where I took the temp it was WAY high. Like 180s. I thought I'd completely screwed up. But when I cut it open:

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    Nice and pink. (And the shadows, color cast, etc hide the fact that it was perfectly medium pink color on the inside)

    What did I do wrong? I had a similar problem a couple weeks ago with some ribeyes I was grilling. I knew, based on the fact that I was cooking those on gas and had the timing perfectly that they should be medium, but I kept getting past-well done temps on the thermometer.

    I know the thermometer's not broken because I have had no problems with chicken or thicker pieces of beef. (At least I think I know....I could do a freeze/boil test if needed)

    Am I just screwing up on something simple?
  • LA Pork Butt
    Charter Member
    • Dec 2014
    • 5297
    • Grew up in New Orleans, lived in Texas for 20 years, lived in Mandeville, LA for 22 years. I now liv

    I would test your thermometer. I have found that in checking thinner cuts of meat there can be a wide variation in temp readings. Maybe you need more readings before you decide to move the meat from cool to hot. I don't believe Meathead recommends reverse sear on meat that is less than 1" thick. That cut looks thicker than 1", but what about the other cooks?


    • djotaku
      djotaku commented
      Editing a comment
      I'll definitely give it a check.
  • kmhfive
    Club Member
    • Mar 2017
    • 2988
    • Northern Illinois
    • Weber Kettle -- 22.5" (In-Service Date June 2015)
      Slow-n-Sear/Drip-n-Griddle/Grill Grates (In-Service Date March 2016)
      Pit Boss 820 (Retired)
      GMG Jim Bowie WiFi (In-Service Date April 2017)
      Maverick ET-733

    Chances are good on a thin steak that you either put the probe in too far or not far enough because it is easy to do. The actual bi-metal junction that measures temperature is not readily apparent looking at the probe. Here's an example from the Thermoworks site:

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    • Huskee
      Pit Boss
      • May 2014
      • 14908
      • central MI, USA
      • Follow me on Instagram, huskeesbarbecue

        Want a free bottle of whiskey? Check out my link to Flaviar.com, you join with it, we both get a $50 bottle free.

        Smokers / Grills
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      My guess is you have the probe too far through to the other side, or not far enough, in other words you're not in the center but the hotter edge perhaps.


      • FireMan
        Charter Member
        • Jul 2015
        • 7620
        • Bottom of Winnebago

        Not to get technical, but these guys are all right. Thin meats are a bit tricky with the gadgetry end of things. My question is, since it was pink inside, was it moist & did it taste good. If so or close, everything is cool. Enjoy.
        Now if it was tough & dry, back to the drawing board. By the looks of things, it looked OK. Sometimes cooking is by sight & feel, and not gauges.


        • RonB
          Club Member
          • Apr 2016
          • 12592
          • Near Richmond VA
          • Weber Performer Deluxe
            Pizza insert
            Smokenator 1000
            Cookshack Smokette Elite
            2 Thermapens
            lots of probes.

          How fast does your thermometer read? If it's slow, (more than a few seconds), it may not be reacting fast enough. I use a Thermopen and if I move it slowly while it's in the meat, I can see the temp change. I suggest you move the probe slowly up and down until you find the coolest spot. I also suggest sliding the probe in at an angle. That will move the probe through the thickness a bit slower. sticking the probe in through the side is another option - just be careful to keep it in the center.


          • djotaku
            djotaku commented
            Editing a comment
            A heckuva lot faster than my leave-in probes. Actually, I'm pretty surprised how quickly it changes at the tenth of a degree level. But I like your technique - I will try that next time.
        • DeusDingo
          Founding Member
          • Jul 2014
          • 1140
          • Madison, WI
          • Weber Q320 grill
            Masterbuilt Propane Smoker
            Maverick and thermo Pen thermometers

          i sometimes find that a slanted angle gets me a better reading for thin meats. sometimes i will go in at about 30 degrees from the surface of the meat to get most of the point of the thermometer in the middle.

          i also find that if i hover over the grill too long with the thermometer it will read too high for a while and i have to pull it back and let it cool a few seconds before i go in for another reading. i think the whole shaft of the needle is getting warm and contributing several degrees too many to the meat temp


          • djotaku
            djotaku commented
            Editing a comment
            hovering also probably was screwing me up. Thanks for that tip.
        • Danjohnston949
          Former Member
          • Dec 2014
          • 4419
          • 1410 9th. St. N, Fargo ND

          djotaku, At the NDSU's BBQ BOOTCAMP, The Temp is always checked from the Edge of Thin Cuts of Meat! Basically this requires to Pick the Meat Off the Grill to Check the Temp! Just an observation on My Part, It seems to Me You have a lot of Charcoal Burning in Grillโ“ Do You Normally Cook with the Lid On or Offโ“ Typically I will Cook a Cold 1 1/2โ€ Steak for 15-20 Mins on the Cold Side of the Grill (Indirect) W/Lid On and then I will Sear It Lid Off
          through Several Flips! As there are Only Two of Us, I typically cook Steaks on My Weber Performer Deluxe with a Med. Vortex, with one Weber Mini Chimney of KBB Charcoalโ“ I'm Not Saying I'm Right, I am just Saying This Is What I Do! Good Grilling! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘
          Eat Well and Prosper! From a Backyard Cremator in Fargo ND, Dan

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          • djotaku
            djotaku commented
            Editing a comment
            Yeah, in this case, with the thin cut, I just did it with the lid off. Lots of charcoal for a nice sear. However, I do like your setup with the hole in the middle grate and just using the chimney itself. I'm going to have to look into that for smaller cooks.

          • Bruce54
            Bruce54 commented
            Editing a comment
            Yeah, what he said. With an instant read, just grab with the tongs and go in straight on an edge.
        • djotaku
          Former Member
          • May 2017
          • 37
          • Baltimore, MD

          Thanks for all the advice everyone. Next time I'll try going in at an angle to see if that helps. I knew going in from the top it was easy to overshoot so I was trying to go in the side, but it's possible I was screwing up there. I will admit that I have a hard time keeping things level.


          • DWCowles
            Founding Member
            • Jul 2014
            • 9709
            • Smiths Grove, Ky
            • Hi, my name is Darrell. I'm an OTR truck driver for over 25 years. During my off time I love doing backyard cooks. I have a 48" Lang Deluxe smoker, Rec-Tec pellet smoker,1 Weber Genesis 330, 1 Weber Performer (blue), 2 Weber kettles (1 black and 1 Copper), 1 26" Weber kettle, a WSM, 8 Maverick Redi Chek thermometers, a PartyQ, 2 SnS, Grill Grates, Cast Iron grates, 1 ThermoPop (orange) and 2 ThermoPens (pink and orange) and planning on adding more cooking accessories. Now I have an Anova sous vide, the Dragon blower and 2 Chef alarms from Thermoworks.

            I agree with all above. ๐Ÿ‘


            • EdF
              Club Member
              • Jul 2016
              • 3202
              • Atlantic Highlands, NJ
              • Uuni Pro (new kid in town)
                Karubeque C-60
                Large BGE since 2002 + plate setter + pizza stone + upper grid + stainless paella pan for drippings (the best!)
                TEC Cherokee FR since 2014 (portable infrared grill - does a mighty sear)
                Polyscience Sous Vide Pro since 2012 (wasn't much else available in those days)
                Thermapen Air
                ThermaQ (or its predecessor)
                Thermoworks Hi temp IR
                BBQ Dragon & Chimney of Insanity
                Various other stuff

              With something that thin, I don't even try to get technical. 3 minutes a side direct, on a hot fire, buhdum! Won't be far off.


              • djotaku
                djotaku commented
                Editing a comment
                There's definitely something to that. And I'm trying to develop that level of knowledge w/ my charcoal grill. On my gas grill I've got everything written on my personal wiki as times because a medium setting is always going to let out the same amount of LP.

              • EdF
                EdF commented
                Editing a comment
                Understand. We all have our learning styles, and our ways of organizing ourselves. Keep it on!



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