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Steaks... TREX or XERT? Noob advice needed

Greetings all... my most awesome wife got me a large BGE for Christmas, after I've been lusting for one for years.  I also got the platesetter and cast iron grate.

I've been using it for about two weeks.  Think I have a good handle on lighting and temp control at this point.  Indirect and direct raised at 400 or so have been money; ribs and spatchcock chicken were both the best I've ever made, hands down.

So steaks... I'm 0 for 2.  I've read a lot of the methods here, it's enough to make your head spin.  Half of the advice conflicts with other advice.  Shooting for med-rare for me, med for wifey.

Attempt #1: thick filets using TREX (roughly).  Got Egg cranked way up with cast iron grid, chunk of cherry, steaks seared 90 seconds per side with lid down.  Left steaks on, closed vent, put damper on top.  Went to flip them at five minutes; internal temp already above 140.  Steaks still surprisingly good, although too well done and too smoky.  Got me a Thermopen the next day.

Attempt #2: NY Strips using XERT (roughly).  Cast iron grid, then plate setter legs up, then stainless grid.  Dome temp at 275, hickory chunk in fire.  Put steaks on; checked 20 minutes later, still raw.  Internal temp 80 degrees.  Cranked dome temp up to 375, another 15 minutes; cooking, but internal temp less than 100.  Cranked dome temp up to 475, another 7-8 minutes; internal temp 140 (grrrrr...).  Took steaks off immediately, removed stainless grid and setter, let the fire rip.  Pinned the thermometer around 1200 within a minute.  Put steaks back on to sear, 1 minute per side in what can only be described as an immolation.  Head high flames and clouds of smoke.  Again surprisingly tasty for burnt steak.

So.  I could use some constructive criticism (there should be plenty), so I don't screw up a third time.  TREX or XERT?  I'm leaning towards TREX, just because that sear at the end seemed like a criminal act on what could have been edible steaks.

Comments

  • BigWaderBigWader Posts: 502

    I'm for TREX too and a long rest while finishing lower (if needed).  I think you need to flip more quickly

    Christmas Eve cook - 1 1/2 inch NY Strip Steaks on blazing Egg (600-650) about 2 min per side.  Egg was wide open so not too much smoke - let it blaze and open and close the dome as needed to flip/rotate.

    After the 4-5 minute cook - off into a pan lined with foil and wrap snug to rest while backing the egg down to 375.  After 15 minutes or so - check steak temps (was at 118) so on egg for a few minutes to finish in the 120's - rest again 5-10 min before eating.  I personally would have finished at 120 but my guests like a bit more done.

    Result was best steak I've cooked- and I was like you not getting how to get good steaks off the egg.

     

    Large BGE

     

  • BENTEBENTE Posts: 8,337
    i have always been partial to the trex methoud. i feel like i got more control. sounds like you did everything right except checking them more often. on the xert i believe you should have moved on to the sear when they hit 100 but i like my steaks alot more rare than you do.

    happy eggin

    TB

    Anderson S.C.

    "Life is too short to be diplomatic. A man's friends shouldn't mind what he does or says- and those who are not his friends, well, the hell with them. They don't count."

    Tyrus Raymond Cobb

  • FanOfFanboysFanOfFanboys Posts: 1,607
    Your TRex is off from how I do mine. Get grill hot, leave lid open, 60-120 seconds each side depending how thick. Remove from grill and tent with foil. Bring temp of grill down to around 400~. Put steaks back on. 1-5 minutes each side, again depends on thickness and desired internal temp. Remove for. Grill, wait few mins, eat. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos that's during the sear and this is the rest Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos and this is final product. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos these were 2" and I did 90 seconds a side at sear and about 3-4 mins a side for the roast
    Boom
  • FanOfFanboysFanOfFanboys Posts: 1,607
    I don't recommend closing the grill up while leaving food on. That's the bad smokey taste you referenced. Keep in mind how hot cast iron gets too. Also a 1" steak is thick but I found that only about 60 second sear needed on my stainless still grate and only 1-2 mins roast to get med rare.
    Boom
  • MikeP624MikeP624 Posts: 292

    I like roasting the steak (indirect) at around 275 to 300 (dome) temp until it gets to an internal temp of 125 degrees.  Then I take the steak off and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes while the egg is heating up.  I then sear as close to the coals as possible.  I use a spider.  Typically this works out pretty good. 

    Attached s a good article about cooking larger roast.  Same principles should apply to steaks and to the egg.

    http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/12/the-food-lab-how-to-cook-roast-a-perfect-prime-rib.html?ref=search

  • FanOfFanboysFanOfFanboys Posts: 1,607
    Also with your sear no need to add any wood. Temp so high it incinerates before any good smoke. Don't waste your chunks. Def get the temp down before putting steaks back on and again don't have any food on there when closing everything up. Bad taste. And it takes awhile for temp to drop so you did 5 mins at very high temp. Next time even if only 500 and try 3 minutes. Can always cook more, but can't cook less once done.
    Boom
  • Personally, I'm a huge fan of the reverse sear (XERT). I set my grill up exactly as you described and roast them at 300 dome (still experimenting with the wood for smoke but so far mesquite is my favorite) until internal reaches between 118-120, monitored by a remote sensor. I find that the internal temp doesn't keep rising as much when using lower roasting temp, plus the pink interior reaches much closer to the outside of the steak when roasted at lower temps. Once the steaks and plate setter are removed, I take off the daisy wheel an open the bottom half way to get them temp to 500-600. I sear for about 90 seconds a side with a quarter turn for the cross-hatch grill marks. The steaks come off a beautiful medium rare - medium every time. I've done this a total of about 6 times and I haven't over cooked a steak yet (knock on wood).
    For me, the TREX takes to long for the cool down period. I can't seem to get the hot egg to drop down in temp in under twenty minutes.
    Two Large Eggs - Located in Marietta, GA (East Cobb)
  • FanOfFanboysFanOfFanboys Posts: 1,607
    Another tip, if you don't already do, is to get steaks close to room temp before doing sear on trex. I also recommend that if you salt do either 60 minutes or more prior to cooking or 3 minutes or less prior to cooking. Here is a link with a bit more info on salting. http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/03/the-food-lab-more-tips-for-perfect-steaks.html but the ones I did in the pics above I salted about 5 hours prior to cooking.
    Boom
  • newegg13newegg13 Posts: 231
    I agree with most of what everyone above has said.  Here are my thoughts on an individual basis:

    (1) Between 600-900 is plenty hot for searing.  I don't see any need to go higher.  
    (2) There is no point in closing the lid while searing.  You are going for the direct heat from the flame, not any convection.  This also helps your temp to drop much more quickly when doing TREX.
    (3) One chunk is enough, and it should be added when roasting
    (4) I roast at 350-375 using a raised indirect setup. When doing XERT, I pull at around 105-110.

    I hope some of this is helpful.  Good luck. 
    Amateur Egger; professional rodeo clown.

    Birmingham, AL
  • MillsyMillsy Posts: 104
    Ok ,I do my 1 1/2 in steaks a little different than that .I cook mine at 500 dome temp on my cast iron grate.I time mine in 3 min intervills ,3 min then a 1/4 turn for the nice grill marks and another 3 min then a flip.after the 3 rd 3 min I use the feel test and judge the last 1/4 turn .I know the feel of a med rare steak now.I dont need an temp to tell me when it is the way i want it.I would recomend the feel test to everyone .
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  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,175
    newegg13 said:
    I agree with most of what everyone above has said.  Here are my thoughts on an individual basis:

    (1) Between 600-900 is plenty hot for searing.  I don't see any need to go higher.  
    (2) There is no point in closing the lid while searing.  You are going for the direct heat from the flame, not any convection.  This also helps your temp to drop much more quickly when doing TREX.
    (3) One chunk is enough, and it should be added when roasting
    (4) I roast at 350-375 using a raised indirect setup.
    This is close to what I do.  I don't let the dome heat up.  Bring the grill to sear with dome open so the ceramics don't get so hot.  I don't need to know dome temp; I'm looking at glowing coals and cook when enough are glowing to provide adequate surface area.  When the sear is over and I close lid go right into roasting.  I leave the DW holes open and the bottom grate open 1/3" - 1/2" to allow the smoke to get out and the mesquite to do some work.  Typically it settles in at 350* - 375* with no cool down time required.  This works well for steaks that 1" - 1.5" thick.  For 2"+, a little cooler roasting temp would probably make sense.

    I
    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • Thanks guys- some great tips here. That Food Labs page is awesome. I like the idea of leaving the lid open while doing a TREX sear, so the dome doesnt get hot and cools off quicker.
  • One other thing... what wood do you guys like for smoke? The cherry was nice for chicken and pork loin, but not quite right for beef. I really didnt care for the hickory; too strong and pungent. Maybe I'll try mesquite next.
  • njlnjl Posts: 771
    You're doing the TREX wrong...that's why you burned the steaks.

    For TREX, you want to sear them at very high heat (600-700+F) for about 90s per side (depending on thickness), and then remove the steaks from the egg, mostly shut the upper and lower vents, and let the egg dome temp come back down to about 400F.  That will probably take 10-20 minutes.  About half way through that cool down time, toss in your smoke wood chunks.  If cool down is taking too long, briefly open the dome a few times to "let the heat out".  Depending on steak thickness, finishing them will only take about 4min per side at 400F.  I did steaks this way for the first couple of years. 

    More recently I've experimented with other methods. 

    Raised indirect very high heat:  With the plate setter in, get the egg as hot as possible, cooking the steaks on the grid above the plate setter.  Reverse sear if desired.  The tricky part is removing the hot plate setter.  When the bottom is 800-1000F, gloves just don't offer much protection.

    Raised direct, 400F, then reverse seared (still raised) once they hit about 110F IT.

    Both of these latter methods, I put the smoking wood in with the lump before or immediately after lighting.  They're all good.  I've only done the last one once so far, but it was by far the simplest and fastest, and is what I'll probably be doing for a while now.  Trying to move a hot plate setter is just asking for trouble.
  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,175
    One other thing... what wood do you guys like for smoke? The cherry was nice for chicken and pork loin, but not quite right for beef. I really didnt care for the hickory; too strong and pungent. Maybe I'll try mesquite next.
    I use mesquite for steaks and burgers.
    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • ChubbsChubbs Posts: 3,595
    BigWader said:

    I'm for TREX too and a long rest while finishing lower (if needed).  I think you need to flip more quickly

    Christmas Eve cook - 1 1/2 inch NY Strip Steaks on blazing Egg (600-650) about 2 min per side.  Egg was wide open so not too much smoke - let it blaze and open and close the dome as needed to flip/rotate.

    After the 4-5 minute cook - off into a pan lined with foil and wrap snug to rest while backing the egg down to 375.  After 15 minutes or so - check steak temps (was at 118) so on egg for a few minutes to finish in the 120's - rest again 5-10 min before eating.  I personally would have finished at 120 but my guests like a bit more done.

    Result was best steak I've cooked- and I was like you not getting how to get good steaks off the egg.

    Exactly the same method I use and always great.
    Columbia, SC --- LBGE 2011 -- MINI BGE 2013
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