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Extra Smokey Steaks?

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    Extra Smokey Steaks?

    Hi All!

    I'm new to posting in the AR/Pit forums so I hope this is the right place.

    I'm not so new to grilling, but I'm only a year and a half into 2-zone, Amazing Ribs style grilling. I got a Slow n Sear and made ribs (baby back) on it the first few days I had it. They came out amazing and my family agreed that I'm allowed to continue making them

    I tried steaks the following week and they were cooked very nicely - good temp (medium & medium-rare) & pink color throughout except for the sear/crust/not-sure-what-to-call-it. However, they had a stronger smokey taste that my usual steaks.

    These were NY strips, just over 1" thick. Weber kettle, 22".

    My old method: Normal 2-zone cooking as suggested here with a water pan under the steaks. I'd light enough of a chimney, push it to one side and adjust the vents (top wide open, bottom not so much). I'd put the steaks on when the coals were going well and mostly white. This method made some great steaks but the weakest part was the sear. I hated making a second batch of hot coals to put on, so I'd try to pile up the initial coals to get them close to the grate and then sear there. So the steaks were good but the sear was never quite enough unless I prepared more coals.

    The recent SnS method: Set it up like the website suggests (light a dozen coals, unlit chimney on top, etc...). I didn't use any wood chunks for this, just the Kingsford briquettes. I got it dialed in to 225 and then put three steaks on. Probably took 25 minutes from there to get to 115 degrees or so. Then I opened up the bottom vents, took the lid off and let the coals get hot. Seared them (which was insanely fun) and served.

    The steaks had a smokey flavor that tasted more like charcoal smoke than wood smoke. They were still edible, but it wasn't the flavor I was hoping for.

    My (inexperienced) thoughts:

    1) The smoke flavor came from the charcoal burning slowly for the half-hour that the steaks were initially cooking due to the unlit coals slowly catching fire etc...

    OR 2) they got the smokey flavor during the sear.

    When I was getting the coals super-hot for the sear I might not have waiting long enough. The coals got hot starting at the corner where the initial briquettes were and once half of the SnS's coals were hot, I put one steak at a time over the hot section, rotating & moving frequently to get to hotter parts of the grate. Could it be possible that those coals weren't hot enough to sear and I picked up smoke that way since the steaks were very close to the coals?

    My plans are to try this again and wait longer before the sear to be sure those coals are entirely crazy hot, but I thought I'd ask the experts here for some advice.

    I'm also aware that steaks cooked on a charcoal grill are going to have some smokey flavor (which is desirable) but this was a bit much and definitely not something I'm used to getting.

    Thanks for any advice!

    Welcome Dave! We're glad you're here. I'm 99.9999% sure you got the extra smokey flavor during the low and slow phase of the cook. Unlit charcoal gives off quite a bit of smoke as it lights up. The low and slow directions are really intended for a big hunk of meat that benefits from a whole lot of smoke. For steak I suggest throwing in 20 to 25 briquets into the SnS and getting those lit and ashed over. Cook at 225F. When the steaks reach 80F light your chimney (3/4 full of charcoal). When the steaks hit 115F your chimney charcoal should be ashed over and ready to go. Dump that into the SnS, let it heat up a bit if you like, then sear. Once done searing close the vents and you'll have a lot of charcoal left over for your next cook. In fact, it'll be a lot more charcoal than you had left over using your previous method as the SnS makes very efficient use of the charcoal.

    btw I'm with you. I don't like a lot of smoke flavor when it comes to steak.


      There's no getting away from lighting a second batch of coals for reverse engineered steak.


        What happened to me, is the juices from the chicken/steak/meat were dripping onto the hot coals, and the coals were smoking like crazy. Also, my heat deflectors were extremely dirty from the leftover juices/oils from previous cooks. When I had the grill hot enough, the heat deflectors were smoking like crazy. It imparted a very distasteful too-smokey of a flavor.

        I recommend locating the source of the smoke, and figuring out how to combat that in your next cook. I have to wrap aluminum foil around my heat deflectors so they don't smoke so much. Hopefully you'll get the right solution on the Forum!


          Whoa, thanks so much for all the advice!

          David Parrish - I figured it was the low and slow but that was harder to fix than waiting for hotter searing temps

          Ernest - I love the idea of a reverse engineered steak

          I grill on my back deck and usually light my chimney inside the kettle. If I'm currently low-and-slow'ing a steak, anyone got good tips for lighting that starter? I've used an upturned galvanized bucket in the past and would probably start there unless there's a popular safe method for not lighting the house on fire.


            Galvanized bucket works. A cheap paver stone would work well too and won't be as likely to tip over as your bucket.


            • jholmgren
              jholmgren commented
              Editing a comment
              +1 on the paver stones. I keep two of them on my deck, one on either side of my Kamado Joe. Chimney can go on one and if I need to load charcoal, etc. I can grab the grate/heat deflector with my welding gloves and put it safely on the other.

            Originally posted by scottranda View Post
            What happened to me, is the juices from the chicken/steak/meat were dripping onto the hot coals, and the coals were smoking like crazy. Also, my heat deflectors were extremely dirty from the leftover juices/oils from previous cooks. When I had the grill hot enough, the heat deflectors were smoking like crazy. It imparted a very distasteful too-smokey of a flavor.

            I recommend locating the source of the smoke, and figuring out how to combat that in your next cook. I have to wrap aluminum foil around my heat deflectors so they don't smoke so much. Hopefully you'll get the right solution on the Forum!

            scottranda - pardon my ignorance, but what's a heat deflector and what are they used for?

            I did have pretty juicy steaks and there was definitely some smoke. Not many flare ups which was nice. I'm guessing the low-n-slow and the juicy searing probably worked together for extreme smoke.

            I'm looking forward to cooking with it again this weekend!


            • scottranda
              scottranda commented
              Editing a comment
              Heat deflector for my kamado grill (kamado joe). It produces indirect heat.

            • David Parrish
              David Parrish commented
              Editing a comment
              Ah OK. That's a different kind of smoke than what otherdave is getting then.

            • otherdave
              otherdave commented
              Editing a comment
              oh shoot, I just learned how to comment on a reply!

              Looking up heat deflectors along with kamado joe gave me a better idea of what you're dealing with. Thanks for the clarification.

            Just a followup for anyone interested - I tried again with some thick ribeyes and they were perfect! Small batch of fully heated coals to get to about 120 with a second batch of coal heating in the chimney for the reverse sear. No bad smokey taste at all. A few things I noticed:

            1) I had to go from cooking sausage links to cooking the steaks. Will definitely take some practice to know how much coal to keep, how much to put out, and what good timing is like. Originally I wanted to do the steaks first and keep them warm while I moved all of the hot coals into the main grilling area, but the sausage-eaters needed to eat first.

            2) Holy cow was that sear awesome.

            3) I think the paver stones are totally the way to go. Especially if I want to take the Slow n Sear out to cook something else, like burgers or sausages etc... Don't feel like dropping 5 lbs of hot steel on my deck

            Thanks again for the suggestions and help!


              otherdave you may find you don't need to take the SnS out. Mine hasn't come out since it went in. You can cook all manner of food with the SnS. If you want central heat/ coals, just scoot it over.


                Same here. I've got an SnS in three different grills and they haven't come out since they went in. You can get the indirect side really hot if you load up the SnS with fully lit charcoal and cook just about anything, even pizza. Just ask Ernest!


                  There's no need to take the SnS out. Mine has come out once because I had to clean the kettle.


                    So if I'm cooking a big batch of burgers, how'd I go about it?

                    Normally I'd have a shallow layer of coal over most of the grill to get a large cooking area. With the SnS would I cook in smaller area? David Parrish mentioned getting the hot side really hot. Do you do this and cook over indirect heat with the lid on?

                    The most common things we grill are hamburgers, steaks/pork chops/lamb chops and sausages (brats & italian sausages). Would you use the SnS for all of these and how would you go about it? Sorry to ask this if it's already posted.

                    And btw, pizza is probably my greatest love. Ernest, do you have any advice or writeup on doing pizza in a kettle with or without the SnS?


                    • Huskee
                      Huskee commented
                      Editing a comment
                      We've got a burger technique here http://www.abcbarbecue.com/#!beef-recipes/cvtu

                      I personally like to use the hot & fast (but ALWAYS indirect) when doing things like pork chops and burgers. Sometimes I sear at the end, sometimes not.

                      You can do burgers lower, like at 225, you're just better off not setting up for low & slow, but instead lighting more coals, at least when you want to sear.

                    otherdave for burgers, it depends on thickness. If they are thin patties, sear them and push them to the cool side while you finish the rest. For thick patties, start them on the cool side, sear and get them on the bun.
                    For brats, I don't bother with searing. Cook them indirectly, around 300 degrees.
                    For pizza, I get a full chimney blazing, dump it in the SnS, cover the grill to get it to 500-600 degrees. I use cast iron, so I get the pizza directly over the hot coals for a few minutes then move it to the cool side. Rotate a few times to get desired doneness.

                    Technically grilling is best done two zone way, the only variable would be the initial cooking temp.
                    Last edited by Ernest; August 10, 2015, 01:57 PM.


                    • otherdave
                      otherdave commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Wow, nice! I love the look of those lodge pans. I might have to give one a try. Do you preheat them with the grill or put them on along with the pizza at room temp?

                      Since you said you start them over the coals initially I'm guessing I know the answer already.

                    • otherdave
                      otherdave commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Are those Cast Iron grates on a weber or is that a different kettle?

                    • Ernest
                      Ernest commented
                      Editing a comment
                      No preheating, I actually let the pizza dough do the final rise in the cast iron platter. Then add my toppings. I got them from a restaurant supply store. Range fro 8 inches all they way to 14 inches.
                      The grates are from craycort on my weber performer. They are 5 years old. I'm a cast iron junkie, I never used the wire grate that came with the weber


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