Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Grilling Steaks, Dude2 style

I just returned to Missouri from a quick trip to New Mexico, where I had the opportunity to demonstrate the way I grill grass fed meat for Dude1. I can't really claim credit for the method, as I learned it from The Farmer and The Grill (another good cookbook), but I did have to adapt my style a little for different equipment.

I generally grill exclusively on hardwood lump charcoal, but Dude1 doesn't have such a grill yet. He does have a fancy gas grill though, so we did a little experiment to recreate the smoky, fiery atmosphere that my steaks usually cook in on his gas grill.

The Meat:
  1. 2 to 4 lbs good grass fed steak, preferably thick (I like mine at 1 1/4 inches)
  2. Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
Let the meat come up to room temperature, then salt it fairly liberally, and put a good layer of cracked pepper on after the salt. The pepper will help form a little bit of a crust when you cook it, and its flavor is quite mild after the cooking process so don't be shy about it here. When you have the steak covered on one side like you want, take a meat hammer or the back of a spoon, and very gently tap the pepper all over. The goal here is just to make the seasonings stick, not to bash the meat around. Flip the steaks and do the same thing on the other side.

To grill with charcoal:

Light a chimney full of hardwood lump charcoal and let it burn for about 10 minutes, until it's really ripping. Off to one side in your grill, place a big chunk of smoke wood (I use a 4 inch pecan log, about foot long). Dump the charcoal in the grill so that it's banked up against the smoke wood and wait a few minutes until the fire has evened out and there is some smoke coming off of the wood. Now, while the coals are really hot, put the steaks directly over them. This is done to form a crust that will improve flavor and help keep the meat moist for the longer slow cooking process. Leave the steaks over this very high heat for 30 seconds to a minute, then flip once. After they've been on the other side for 30 seconds to a minute, move them over away from the direct heat without flipping again. Put the lid on the grill, and cut the airflow down to about half. Depending on how you like your steaks and how hot the fire is, they need to be left alone like this for 5-20 minutes.

To gas the steaks (i.e. grill with gas):

This was an experimental method, but it worked out pretty well. I believe there are instructions in The Farmer and The Grill as well, but I don't have it handy so I can't be sure. Anyway, here's what we did:

Turn your grill on as high as it will go, all burners on and maxed out. Let it get good and hot, then get a good sized chunk of dry smoke wood and put it in the grill below the grate but above the burners. We used cherry this time, but I generally prefer pecan and hickory. On some grills this may be a challenge because of the burner configuration, but on Dude2's grill it was easy. If you can't get it below the grate, try just putting it on the grate above the hottest part of the flame. Close your lid and let it get hot again, waiting for the wood to catch fire. When it's burning well, put the steaks on it over the burning wood (or near it if you had to go on top of the grate). Let it go for 30 seconds to a minute, then flip and repeat. After another 30 seconds to a minute, turn off all but one burner and move the steaks to an unlit portion of the grill without flipping them. If your grill has only one burner, try turning it way down. The object here is to simulate the indirect heat that we used in the charcoal method, but with gas. You will have to monitor the steaks to see when they reach your desired cooking stage, because I only have one example to go from in this case (on his grill, it took about 10 minutes to get to the rare side of medium rare).

The biggest difficulty in the gas method arises from the fact that you don't really have any control over the airflow, so the wood is pretty much just going to burn full tilt the whole time. Also, the indirect heat is mostly radiant (as opposed to radiant and convective with charcoal) because most of the hot air escapes right away. I have a feeling it's also less humid in a gas grill, but I'm just speculating there.

After Grilling:

When they've reached the desired cooking stage, take the steaks off and put them all on a plate, covered with a bowl or aluminum foil (or anything that will keep the moisture in). Leave them there for about 5 minutes, then take them out and savor the delicious flavor of smoky grilled grass fed beef. We had caramelized carrots (my recipe) and fried, baked potatoes for sides.

Caramelized Carrots (serves about 4):
  1. 3-5 lbs organic carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 2" pieces
  2. 1 1/2 Tbsp grass fed butter
  3. 1/2 tsp thyme
  4. salt
Melt the butter in a fry pan big enough to allow you to toss all the carrots without making a mess. Add the carrots, toss to coat with butter, and set the heat a little above medium. Put a lid on the pan for about 10 minutes to allow the carrots to steam, then take the lid off and raise the temperature just a bit. Every 3 to 5 minutes, toss the carrots to get some new ones in contact with the pan. After 30-45 minutes of this, the carrots will have shrunk considerably and will have dark caramelized patches on them. Add the thyme, salt to taste, and enjoy!

A tasty modification to this recipe is to add about 1/4 cup beef stock and 1/4 cup red wine and let it reduce to a glaze for the carrots. The rest of the recipe is the same (you may optionally want to add a little more thyme though), but this adds richness and results in extremely tender carrots.

No comments:

Post a Comment