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Why do we do it this way?

I've owned my Large Egg for about 2 yrs - love it!  Working on getting better with each cook.  I'm a long time lurker on the site, but this is my first discussion question.  Please take it easy on a newbie!

My question is this:  When doing steaks, or really any moderate or higher cook temperature, why do we put the rub on BEFORE we put the meat on the heat?  With the exception of salt, most of our rub ingredients are organic in nature - basically dried and ground plant matter.  Plant material burns.  Spices contain oils that will burn, or at least evaporate under heat.  Aren't we losing a lot of flavor by doing this?

To test this before sticking my foot in my mouth on the forum, I tried seasoning a steak after cooking.  Not bad, but definitely not as good as seasoning before.  So why does seasoning before cooking work so well, when it seems we would be burning up all of the good stuff?


  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,383
    There are some that sear, then add spices, and finish the cook at low temp.

    I suspect the spices survive in part because the meat has moisture and the spices absorb some of it or that surface evaporation cools the spices enough to keep them from burning.
    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • SkiddymarkerSkiddymarker Posts: 7,271
    edited March 2013
    You are right, but maybe its the salt you are tasting. Salt is a mineral and will survive the sear, the other stuff in the rub will not. I use the reverse sear and SWMBO says the steak/chop tastes better, she tastes the rub not the char. @Ragtop99 has a point that the wet surface will save some of the rub if seared in a diamond grid pattern, but the full mahogany brown Trex surface will have only salt left, IMHO, that's why many season after the Trex sear.
    With a reverse sear, I think the rub has a chance to interact with the meat and the meat will take on some smoke. Then I blast the hell out of it. 
    Maybe the rub first, then sear technique was developed by the rub guys, they may sell more!
    Delta B.C. - Vee-Gan: old Indian word for poor hunter. 
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 17,142
    People like blackened seasoning.  That's meat covered in a bunch of spices cooked with burning butter on a 600 F griddle.  If you like the taste, keep doing it.
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr., smoker with a 5k btu AC, gas grill, fire pit, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • DuganboyDuganboy Posts: 1,118
    Different tastes for different people.  If you have a nice choice or prime steak, to me it only needs sea salt and coarse ground pepper.  I want to taste the steak, the char and a "little" seasoning.

    As to the science I'm going with whatever @nolaegghead says.
  • ratcheerratcheer Posts: 189
    I have done it both ways. Both ways are very good. But I have a slight preference for seasoning before cooking. Because my wife has a great preference for seasoning before cooking, that is the way I usually do it. ;)

  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 17,990
    i salt, sear, season, rest, roast a steak. i dont like the bitter taste of pepper garlic, paprika etc being burnt during the sear so it goes on and mingles during the rest and roast.
  • YEMTreyYEMTrey Posts: 2,865
    edited March 2013
    Thanks!  This popped into my head when I read your title.
    XL and a Mini Max Egg in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • FanOfFanboysFanOfFanboys Posts: 1,882
    Like @duganboy said I only use salt, I use sea salt, and once it's resting slice of butter. Occasionally while resting I will use a little bit of garlic salt and parsley. But I don't use anything outside of that.
    Good question though
  • I only use a little bit of freshly ground salt and pepper patted into the meat just before it goes on the egg.
    "America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland." -Tennessee Williams
  • Evoo,sea salt,pepper,garlic powder for me. 600-650 1-2 mins per side. Bring it back down to 400 for 2 mins per side = perfect for me. Times depend on cut though.
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