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Help me improve my searing game

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    Help me improve my searing game

    We are big fans of reverse searing steaks. We often just cook steaks for myself and my wife but sometimes for up to 6 people. Most of the time we'll throw some potatoes on, low and slow (225 - 250) a couple of hours before dinner. Then about an hour before dinner the steaks go on and we cook them to about 125. Then we pull the steaks, setup for a sear and sear them. I'm kind of fighting getting a sear I am happy with without it being too much hassle. Here's the equipment we've got and how things have been working on them:
    • Memphis Advantage pellet grill: We've had this for a few years. It replaced an OLD Traeger. It does fine with the low and slow portion of the cook. When it works, it does a decent job searing. However, cranking it up for the sear has been problematic. We've had the auger stop. That is resolved (I think). We've had it way overshoot the temperature and cause a controller overheat error. That still happens. Also, no matter how much we scrape the "flavorizor", there is a lot of nasty smoke from stuff burning off. Swapping out the blazing hot indirect insert for the direct flame insert is a bit interesting as well.
    • 28" Blackstone griddle: Part of the reason I wanted this was I thought I could use it to sear steaks. I don't think I've ever tried it. It just seems like to much hassle to roll it out, get on my knees to unlatch the soft cover and take it off, take the hard cover off, open the tank valve, light it (looking to make sure it lights because it always takes multiple tries) etc. Then there is another cooker to clean when we are done as well.
    • 26" Weber kettle: I bought this used recently because of my frustration with the Memphis Advantage. I've done a reverse seared tri-tip on it. No steaks yet. The sear on the tri-tip is probably the best I've ever gotten. Used firebricks for 2 zone setup. I just bought a Slow n Sear XL for it. I fired up a full Weber chimney of KBB for the sear. By the time it was hot and I was ready for it the chimney was about 3/4 full. I think I could have used more charcoal for the sear. After shutting down the grill, less than a compact chimney's worth of that charcoal was left. My issue searing on this is that it seams very wasteful. That and all the smoke from firing up another chimney.
    • Weber Jumbo Joe: Picked this up used with a full size Weber chimney for $20 the same day I bought the 26er. I needed the chimney, so I figured it was a free grill Seared a few small filets on it the other night. Put 4 or 5 new briquettes in a compact Weber chimney then filled it with what was left from the tri-tip sear. Got 'em good an hot and just banked them to one side. Worked pretty good. Hot area was a bit small. Could have probably used more charcoal again. Maybe using one of my charcoal baskets would help? Steaks wanted to stick to the grate. Not sure why. Haven't had that happen before. After closing it up, it seemed to save a lot of the charcoal. Had to sit crouched over it in a chair. Sure would like to find a Weber table...

    Other options: I used an old cast iron pan inside once when the Memphis Advantage auger stopped on me. Wife didn't like the taste. Could be because it hadn't been used in years. Can the seasoning go bad? We have a Lodge cast iron griddle. Haven't really used it. Stainless steel pan? Electric oven broiler? Ninja air fryer???

    So, I would love any input from all of you experienced grill masters out there. What's my best option considering what I have? Should I get something else just for searing steaks? Inquiring minds (well one mind) want to know.

    #2
    Personally, of the options you list, I feel that the Blackstone would be the easiest searing station. Not sure it will get as dark a crust as a 1000F screaming hot chimney of charcoal, but it will do as good as a cast iron skillet, which is good.

    I get you have to roll it out and take the cover off, but... really? That hard? Not compared to the time and effort spent with the charcoal, and much less wasteful. . Cleanup after searing a couple of steaks should be a very MINIMAL amount of scrape, wipe with a damp rag, wipe with a squirt of oil, and done.

    Comment


    • Dr. Pepper
      Dr. Pepper commented
      Editing a comment
      Also, try tossing a handful of ice cubes on the hot surface, and use your long tongs and some paper towels, to wipe up. The steam lifts up the grease. I do this all the time with our gas griddle on our Wolf Range.

    • jfmorris
      jfmorris commented
      Editing a comment
      I squirt water on and use Terry cloth rags that I buy like 100+ for $12 at Sam's Club. The steam does seem to help as I use my tongs to wipe with the wet cloth on the hot griddle. If the rags get too dirty, I toss them, otherwise I wash them, and they live in a bin called "grill rags" on a shelf in the laundry room.

    #3
    I searched for the ultimate sear one time 😉

    https://pitmaster.amazingribs.com/fo...-ultimate-sear

    Comment


    • jfmorris
      jfmorris commented
      Editing a comment
      That was a good documentary IMO.

    • Polarbear777
      Polarbear777 commented
      Editing a comment
      That was an epic thread.

    • Michael_in_TX
      Michael_in_TX commented
      Editing a comment
      Wonderful thread....was before my time here. Doing a steak with flat skewers over a half-lit very hot chimney with Carne Crusta is now in my future for sure.

    #4
    I would use the kettle and continuously flip the steaks. I flip about every 20 seconds, with the lid open and that works awesome and you get to see the crust develop. I use a pig tail flipper to make things really easy and fast.

    Also, dabbing the surface of the steak with a paper towel before searing helps too. Any moisture oil the surface must be evaporated before you can get that sear going properly.

    If you use the Blackstone or a cast iron pan, use a press to hold the meat flat. I will often use another cast iron pan for added weight. This works very very well. And make sure the skillet or Blackstone is heat soaked and hot. It does not have to be insanely hot, like 550+ but make sure it is hot all the way through. There is a common misconception with pans and griddles that they have to be insanely hot to get a good sear. That is false. Once they are heated ALL THE WAY THROUGH you can easily sear at 400 F or even lower. Just move the steak around at each flip to chase the heat. Or, if you pan is dense enough, you dont even need to do that. Just make sure it is properly heat soaked. When I hear people say that they get their cast iron up too 1000 F, it makes me shake my head. There is no need for it. All they are doing is bring the meat, torching the seasoning on the pan and possibly warping it at the same time. Cast iron and griddle retain heat very well, once heated there is little need to blast the heat on high.

    These two options are your best bet, if you ask me.

    Comment


    • Polarbear777
      Polarbear777 commented
      Editing a comment
      I shoot for 650 pan with my IR gun. When the surface hits that I know I’m loaded well enough. Then if doing a single steak I can just turn the heat source off.

      Above 750 I think you are risking the seasoning.

    #5
    I use either my Blackstone or my “mini gasser”. A Charbroil Grill2Go X200. The X200 is a searing machine and heats up very fast. It has a Platinum rating here on the free side. I have it on a cart so it’s easy to roll out and work on. The Blackstone works great too and I will use that option if I am doing something else on it at the same time.

    Comment


      #6
      I would also agree either the kettle or the blackstone. I am currently using the Grilla Primate and I have the 2/3rds griddle option with 1/3 as grill and it makes a great searing station.

      Comment


        #7
        One thing I do after L&S or SV is to put the steaks on a rack, pat/air dry for a few minutes and then rub a little avocado oil on them and let that set for a few minutes. I generally use my old Genesis with GrillGrates, but the Blackstone or a CI pan works fine as well. I have gotten some pretty awesome crust that way, better than any restaurant I've been to.
        Last edited by CaptainMike; September 29, 2021, 07:19 PM.

        Comment


          #8
          Here is a really easy to use and functional cart I bought for my Jumbo Joe:

          AmazonSmile: Cuisinart CFGS-222 Take Along Grill Stand : Patio, Lawn & Garden

          I would opted to use the griddle myself. Given that you are out by your grills to do the spuds and indirect for your steaks, seems that a beer and a few minutes to setup the griddle would be relatively easy. But I don't have to roll my out of storage - it is already sitting on a Keter cart with the propane left connected.

          Comment


            #9
            My personal choice would be the kettle with a vortex. With a 26” kettle, I know the Slow n Sear takes a lot of charcoal to fill it up. I’ve got the 22” kettle and use my vortex all the time. It will take one chimney of coals to fill it up. No big deal. I push the vortex to back of the kettle for the low and slow part, close the vents some to lower the temps. When I’ve reached the IT on my steaks I want, just remove the steaks and plate em for a few minutes. Remove the lid and open the bottom vents all the way, wait for the coals to get screaming hot again. I then sear them directly over the vortex and it works great for me. I recently put a IR thermometer over the coals on my hot vortex. It reached almost 1000*…... 980* to be exact.
            Attached Files
            Last edited by Panhead John; September 29, 2021, 02:44 PM.

            Comment


            • tbob4
              tbob4 commented
              Editing a comment
              Come on - it was 979.8

            #10
            I’m totally with you on the wasteful part with charcoal for reverse sear and I had a Memphis for a while, so get the burn off and the pain of switching around mid cook. If I’m really wanting a special steak, I’ll either reverse on pellets or sous vide, then sear over raging coals. I rarely do this though and feel wasteful every time. I usually either do the MAK/Genesis reverse sear combo, or the charcoal front sear Spinaker mentioned. Charcoal front sear seems to give the best flavor, reverse might give you a tad more tenderness.

            I have also learned seasoning is very important on any griddle or pan reverse sear. Course seasonings get kinda nasty and might be what your wife didn’t like. Carne crosta works good or dry brine with more finely ground pepper and garlic is better than something like McCormick’s Montreal steak seasoning here. The problem is we love McCormick’s flavor. I got GrillGrates to try again on the Genesis and forgot this again and threw McCormick’s seasoned steaks on the reverse side the other night. Luckily the new GrillGrates actually kept most of it this time, so we had mostly unseasoned steaks vs charred garlic and pepper.
            Attached Files

            Comment


              #11
              Originally posted by Panhead John View Post
              My personal choice would be the kettle with a vortex. With a 26” kettle, I know the Slow n Sear takes a lot of charcoal to fill it up. I’ve got the 22” kettle and use my vortex all the time. It will take one chimney of coals to fill it up. No big deal. I push the vortex to back of the kettle for the low and slow part, close the vents some to lower the temps. When I’ve reached the IT on my steaks I want, just remove the steaks and plate em for a few minutes. Remove the lid and open the bottom vents all the way, wait for the coals to get screaming hot again. I then sear them directly over the vortex and it works great for me. I recently put a IR thermometer over the coals on my hot vortex. It reached almost 1000*…... 980* to be exact.
              Does anyone ever do anything to reduce the width of the charcoal bed in a Slow n Sear? I am thinking of just putting a soup can or cut off piece of firebrick in one or both ends of the Slow n Sear and using the space between them. Less charcoal but also a smaller searing area.

              Comment


              • jfmorris
                jfmorris commented
                Editing a comment
                That could work. Just split the SNS in half basically, but you'll really just be able to sear one steak at a time.

              #12
              Here’s a reverse sear ribeye I did tonight with my vortex. Got a pretty good sear.
              . Click image for larger version  Name:	67E12170-D2F7-4BE0-B725-39ECDCC9DE76.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	4.00 MB ID:	1102788
              Attached Files
              Last edited by Panhead John; September 29, 2021, 07:58 PM.

              Comment


              • tbob4
                tbob4 commented
                Editing a comment
                Better than “pretty” !

              • FireMan
                FireMan commented
                Editing a comment
                Yup, good lookin piece of meat!

              • surfdog
                surfdog commented
                Editing a comment
                Proper.
                The Vortex may indeed be the best forty bucks I’ve spent in quite some time…

              #13
              Multiple steaks I usually go with the chimney or the dragon fan+chimney.

              Single steaks, the grill gun works well enough. or cast iron, but with the amount of smoke, I do the CI outside as well.

              Important to get the surface very dry before the sear (paper towels) then let it sit uncovered to dry the surface a bit more, then a spray of oil, then sear. The uncovered drying can also help cool it if you are too close to your internal doneness target.

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              Comment


              • IFindZeroBadCooks
                IFindZeroBadCooks commented
                Editing a comment
                Is that a sausage in pic 1 or something else?

              • HawkerXP
                HawkerXP commented
                Editing a comment
                Tube steak!

              • Polarbear777
                Polarbear777 commented
                Editing a comment
                First pic is costco bratwurst

              #14
              Oakridge Carne Crosta helps with creating a black sear. I use an M Grills M16 with the coals piles high in one half. Indirect cooking on the side without coals and searing on the charcoal side.Have produced some of the best steaks ever. Have done it both reverse and forward and prepare forward (searing first).

              Comment


                #15
                I've seen lots of people here and other places using the charcoal chimney. While it looks very effective, it also looks a bit unstable and dangerous. Kind of an accident waiting to happen. It also limits you to one steak at a time.

                I am curious about this; can I get as good of a sear using less charcoal on a smaller grill (Jumbo Joe, Smokey Joe etc.) where the distance between the charcoal grate is less, as I can on a 22" or 26" kettle with the Slow n Sear or Vortex? Or do I need the deeper coal bed the Slow n Sear and Vortex provide? Still looking to use charcoal without wasting a bunch just for a sear.

                Maybe I should look for a killer deal on a small used Kamado. I've heard they can get crazy hot but you can snuff out the fire easily... Maybe an Akorn Junior???
                Last edited by IdahoJim; September 30, 2021, 09:49 AM.

                Comment


                • Panhead John
                  Panhead John commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Pro tip from ol Panhead here. 😉 Turn your vortex upside down with the wide end up. You’ll be able to easily sear 2 steaks at once.

                • Polarbear777
                  Polarbear777 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  A chimney or vortex or any other similar device stacks up burning coals. When you have ten or so layers of burning coals and all the heat forced out the top, you get much more heat flux than a couple of layers of coals in a grill.

                  Not really more dangerous than lighting a full chimney anyway and I do like to have a stable steel table or grill to set it on.

                  Using a chimney does use a lot of coal for a small job. Multiple steaks are no problem since each one takes just a minute or so to sear

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