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Searing on the PBC?

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    Searing on the PBC?

    Hi All,

    After ruining another steak I am about ready to give up trying to sear on the PBC. But there is video evidence that others have managed it, so I am here to (hopefully!) find out how they do it.

    I have tried it with both a reverse sear and searing a thinner steak from scratch and I cannot get enough heat at the grill to create a nice sear. I am getting a terrible, limp gray color on it and it reaches the internal temp before I get anything close to brown.

    I am using a full basket of Kingsford Original and the charcoal is fully lit when I start. The lid is off, rods are out and the intake has not been touched from the factory settings.

    Is there anything I am missing? Or should I just hold off grilling steaks until I buy something more suited for searing at high temps?

    All help is appreciated!

    Tried bringing a COLD thick steak to about 115 with the lid cracked, then removing the steak AND the lid, let the charcoal bed get blazing (steak still off the grill) THEN put the steak back on (but not the lid) for a quick sear each side and up to temp? That thing gets darn hot when you leave the lid off. Wouldn't see any reason to put the lid back on when working on the sear.
    Maybe you have tried this method. Sounds like you've covered the bases.


      Well... you could fire up your blackstone and sear with that... or use the pit barrel and Meathead's afterburner method, if you have a charcoal chimney...

      OR... you could snag a Weber Kettle and an SnS and have a really cool grilling and smoking machine


        I wouldn't sear a steak on the PBC. Waste of charcoal (full basket just to sear a steak), distance between the grate and the heat is not conducive to a good sear. The others that have done it are not telling the whole story.
        Use the chimney


          Originally posted by Ernest View Post
          I wouldn't sear a steak on the PBC. Waste of charcoal (full basket just to sear a steak), distance between the grate and the heat is not conducive to a good sear. The others that have done it are not telling the whole story.
          Use the chimney
          +1. I've not tried mine for steak but I don't see how it could possibly give a good sear given the distance between the basket and the grate.


            I bought two short sections of chimney pipe (4-5 inches in diameter, maybe?)--the kind used for woodburning stoves. I set those inside the barrel, side by side, put a charcoal grate on top of them for stability and then set my PBC coal basket on top of the setup for grilling burgers in the PBC. That gets the coal basket as close as practicable to the grate.

            Noah says in his video that burgers cook (about 1 inch thick or so) in 4 to 5 minutes per side on the grate with the basket in the bottom. Uh. No. 40 coals (with a 15 minute pre-burn) with the coal basket positioned as close to the grate as I could get it took 35 minutes. I'm thinking that with a full basket of coals set closer to the grate, perhaps the burgers would have cooked in shorter time, but I didn't want to waste a full basket on 3 burgers.

            At this point I wouldn't try to sear a steak on the PBC unless I had the coals close as possible to the grate. As Ernest says, it would take a full basket to possibly get the grate up to searing temp, which is a waste of charcoal for a couple of steaks.

            I like the method that Jerod Jerod Broussard used: flipping the charcoal chimney (fewer coals necessary on the "short end") for a quick sear. Either that, or I fire up my gasser with a cast iron griddle in place and get it up super-sear temps.

            I still use my PBC for steaks: I do step 1 of the reverse sear in my PBC take the meat to within about 15-20 degrees of desired doneness, and sear the meat off either in my gasser with the cast iron griddle or on top of the charcoal chimney. I have yet to use my Grill Grates, flipped upside down, on my gasser for the searing step, but lots of folks here do that with great success.

            Last edited by fzxdoc; July 15, 2015, 09:16 AM.


              Thanks all for the advice! I am glad I wasn't missing something obvious. May just have to hold out for the Weber Kettle.

              Kathryn, I love the idea of of moving the coal basket up to the grill. Have your tried the reverse sear with the coal basket moved up? Or is the heat source too close to gently get to the internal temperature?


                I have done reverse engineered steaks in the PBC with the compact chimney holding the coals. It's quite amazing what one can come up with when sipping on bourbon or scotch


                  Originally posted by Stevehtn View Post
                  +1. I've not tried mine for steak but I don't see how it could possibly give a good sear given the distance between the basket and the grate.

                  The PBC can actually cook a pretty darn good steak if it's thick. When the lid is off it gets pretty hot and will sear by convective heating much like a gas grill. Check out the steak video on the PBC website. Be careful with this technique as the bottom of the PBC can get hot, especially with competition Kingsford charcoal. Make sure the PBC is on the stand and the floor underneath is non flammable. Try concrete pavers if you have a wood deck.


                    I did a prime rib at christmas with the PBC, reverse sear style. I cooked the prime rib to 115 F. Then reached down with my handy hook-on-a-stick tool, and took the basket out. Then I place a cinder block in the barrel vertically. Then put the basket back onto of the block. Turned on the BBQ dragon to get to warp 10 and The result: The basket is right under the grate and it worked awesome. I added a picture that gives you some what of an idea of what I did. I don't know if you can tell by this picture or not.
                    Click image for larger version

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                      I seem to remember seeing a picture someone posted that showed them hanging a second grate from the main grate with carabiners....that would get your steaks closer to the coals.
                      Last edited by JTK; July 17, 2015, 07:14 AM.


                        Awesome ideas! I love the idea of repositioning the grill or basket and getting the whole cook done on the same coals. I think I need a few "inspiration" beers and to see what I have lying around the yard.


                          I've done both--used carabiners and also used the PBC with the basket in its usual configuration to do steaks.

                          I've had the PBC for two years (plus...). For a long time, I never considered steaks on it. I saw the carabiner method and thought I would give it a try. It worked ok. Earlier this year, I saw the Ballistic BBQ video on YouTube where he did ribeyes on the PBC. I figured I would give it a try.

                          So, after dry-aging (using an Umai bag) a large ribeye for 28 days, I cooked them on the PBC. I used a full basket, and I tell you, that sucker gets HOT. I mean like 600+ degrees hot at the grate. It made an absolutely amazing steak. Best I've ever had at home. The steaks were at room temp, cooked about 6-7 minutes per side.

                          Subsequently, I've done ribeyes (dry aged) twice more--one other set was 28 days, and another 42 days (these were a little too "rich" for my wife but I thought they were still good). Again, amazing sear and cook on these steaks.

                          I think the distance between the grate and the coals serves as a huge advantage. Sure, it takes a full load of coals to get the heat--you have to decide if that is worth it to you--but I see charcoal as cheap (I stock up on Memorial Day and July 4th, so 6-8 pounds is $1.50 to $2.00 worth). Using the carabiners, the steaks could get burned, but not so using the PBC "as is". I use long (16 inch) tongs, and without a glove it was too hot to even turn them.

                          I relayed my experience to several friends with PBCs here in town, and they have had similar results. I never would have believed it myself, but the video convinced me to give it a try. From this point onward, this is how I cook steaks...


                            Thanks for that info about the video, supergas6 . Do you reverse sear your steaks?

                            I've reverse seared many a steak using my PBC to bring them to 115 degF and then searing the heck out of them on a warp-temp iron griddle placed on my gasser, which is alongside my PBC. Works great.

                            I tried grilling burgers with the setup (see post #6 above) I have (metal chimney sections used to raise the basket's top edge to within 4 inches from the grate) but only used 40 coals. It took longer than Noah's burger video showed, but then he used more coals, I guess. For me, 3 burgers took 35 minutes to cook to 155 degF.

                            Haven't tried the setup since, but am planning on doing it again next week, hopefully.



                              Kathryn, no, I didn't reverse sear. What I have found is that with 1.5 inch thick steaks, the amount of time it takes to get the good sear on both sides using the "stock" PBC is just about right to get a good medium rare. In other words, if I cooked them ahead of time to 115, and then "seared" using the PBC, they would be "at temp" long before I had a good brown crust. Cooking room temp steaks for about 6 minutes or so a side on a really, really hot PBC gets a great sear and leaves a red/pink inside--a great combination.

                              Just my experience...



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