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Crouton

Cooking Steak on a Chimney Starter

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Hi crout,

1. The usual webber one.

2. Absolutely

3. Yup

4. Definitely, used solid lumpwood, sold as 'restaurant grade' so nice big pieces, probably used slightly more than the recipe to make sure it was properly hot, probably full to the top though with these big chunks that's not as much as it would be with briquettes/smaller lumpwood.

5. Well.... Sort of. It made noise and I could see spitting when I bent down to it, but when it came out after 1 1/2 mins it was still pretty pale brown, certainly got more appetising after it's time on the top but was definitely not charred. I think maybe I'll try it for longer periods of time with thicker steaks to see if that gets it nearer where it's meant to be. Hard to to fault the medium rare done-ness but not as mouth wateringly charred as I'd like it.

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Perhaps the pieces of charcoal were actually too big. I imagine most of the heat reaching the steak is being radiated from the coals closest to the steak (i.e., those that are sitting directly on the grate in the chimney starter). If that's the case, you'd want to break up those large lumps and pack the chimney starter nice and tight.

Might surface area of the coals be another reason that smaller is better? It seems that coals would initially be lit primarily on their surfaces, and small coals have a greater surface area to volume ratio than do larger ones.

edit: surface area


Edited by vice (log)

 

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Hi crout,

1. The usual webber one.

2. Absolutely

3. Yup

4. Definitely, used solid lumpwood, sold as 'restaurant grade' so nice big pieces, probably used slightly more than the recipe to make sure it was properly hot, probably full to the top though with these big chunks that's not as much as it would be with briquettes/smaller lumpwood.

5. Well.... Sort of. It made noise and I could see spitting when I bent down to it, but when it came out after 1 1/2 mins it was still pretty pale brown, certainly got more appetising after it's time on the top but was definitely not charred. I think maybe I'll try it for longer periods of time with thicker steaks to see if that gets it nearer where it's meant to be. Hard to to fault the medium rare done-ness but not as mouth wateringly charred as I'd like it.

I used generic Publix brand lump hardwood charcoal and 1lb filled my chimney only half-way up. By the time the charcoal was ready, it had burned down to only about 1/4 of the way up.

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Hmmmm, maybe that's it then, perhaps there was too much charcoal in there, I'll give it another go with some tighter packed smaller lumps only halfway up the chimney. Cheers guys... I'll be back!

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I tried this as well this past weekend. I was sous viding steaks and looking for a quick way to get a good crust without cooking too much.

In the end, the results were not that special - as I didn't get that much of a char - and the flavor seemed bland. But I did not follow alton brown's directions that closely. First, since I was sous viding, I didn't bother with the dry aging. I used the largest of the weber chimney starters, and the bottom grate that holds the charcoal is, I believe, higher off the bottom than other models, so the meat isn't as close. Also, I used regular briquettes, which I filled more than half way up. Finally, the meat had been sous viding in its own juices, so perhaps was not dry enough for this technique. While the steaks had been pre-cooked, I still kept them under the starter for 90 secs per side, which didn't overcook the meat - despite there being plenty of heat coming from the starter. Most of the meat did end up getting some crust -- but there wasn't anything unique about the flavor.

I'm gonna repeat again soon, using a smaller starter and lump charcoal. I'm also thinking I might "dry out" the steaks post sous viding by removing them from the bag, drying and salting them, and letting them sit in the fridge uncovered for a couple hours or so.

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This is now my go to way top cook steak.

I do not understand why people are having a char problem. I have done this now a dozen time and each time a beautiful crust: within 30 seconds of placing the chimney over the meat it starts to sizzle. Maybe people are waiting until the coal ash too much(?).

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Has anyone ever thought (I'm sure someone has) to heat up a grill full of coals and then simply place a cast-iron pan directly on the coals? How hot do coals get compared to a stove top on full blast? Anyone have an instant read thermometer care to try this out? I imagine that this woould work out pretty well, however I've certainly been wrong many times before.


I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer...

Homer Simpson

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Those who have been successful and unsuccessful both: how would you describe the surface of the meat immediately prior to the searing? Wet? Dry? Blotted off? Allowed to stay moist? Anyone using oil? a glucose wash?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Those who have been successful and unsuccessful both: how would you describe the surface of the meat immediately prior to the searing? Wet? Dry? Blotted off? Allowed to stay moist? Anyone using oil? a glucose wash?

Successful, very.

Wet... which goes against my natural reaction of wanting to dry the meat off before cooking. In the past, after pre-salting, I would dry the surface with paper towels then squirt on a little canola oil and rub it over the top and bottom surface before throwing on the grill. With this new approach, the steak was very wet, the salt had completely dissolved and the steak was at room temperature. Even with a wet surface, the surface of the meat started to sizzle and pop within 30 seconds. For what it's worth, I used the Weber brand starter...

*According to the episode, which I don't think is mentioned in the recipe alone, Alton states the wet surface of the meat caused by the pre-salting period is protein rich which aids in the browning of meat.


Edited by Crouton (log)

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Has anyone ever thought (I'm sure someone has) to heat up a grill full of coals and then simply place a cast-iron pan directly on the coals? How hot do coals get compared to a stove top on full blast? Anyone have an instant read thermometer care to try this out? I imagine that this woould work out pretty well, however I've certainly been wrong many times before.

Alton did this with a wok... Even then i don't see it getting as hot as using the heat from the coals directly. First it has to heat up the cast iron pan not to mention you're basically smothering the coals which I assume would lower the temperature. The beauty of the chimney starter is having the heat source on the top...

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... The beauty of the chimney starter is having the heat source on the top...

I do appreciate the poetry. Its a really neat idea.

But the pedant lurking within is offended by the thread title saying "On" rather than "Under" ...


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I just did some burgers this way. I put the burgers on a plate then fit the chimney starter over it. It's quite amazing that you can accomplish a lot of what conventional grilling can with just a chimney starter and no other equipment.

I also feel a bit safer grilling this way on my patio, than having a full on grill.

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