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Interesting temperature measurement

Charleston DaveCharleston Dave Posts: 571
edited 10:16PM in EggHead Forum
I've been working on an alternative cooking technique using the Egg, and had occasion to take non-contact measurements (with an IR thermometer) of a cast iron grate sitting on a drop-down spider.

With the dome temp at 550ºF, the temperature of the cast iron grate reads 750ºF. It's thus very easy to do a sear in a few seconds without using much lump; just move the meat closer to the lump. Not quite caveman style, but splitting the difference. It's possible that the temperature was even higher, but this was peaking out the range of my IR thermometer.


In this case, I had leftover Royal Oak lump that I stirred to let dust fall through. I then opened the vent fully. I lit in three places with torch, then put the (small) cast iron grate on top of the drop-down spider. I closed lid and left the DFMT off. Ten minutes later dome temperature was 550ºF, at which point I measured grate temp. This technique uses very little lump and I put no special effort into building a fire.

We have a general rule of thumb in the forum that dome temperature is 25ºF higher than grate temperature, decreasing as a cook progresses. I wonder if the 200ºF difference to drop-down spider temp is also generalizable.

My first attempt using this technique gave slightly overcooked meat. A 90-second-per side sear of precooked meat gave a sear that extended perhaps 1/8" into the meat, which was not what i wanted. Next time I will use a briefer sear, and perhaps a higher temp.


  • tjvtjv Posts: 3,725
    In the large, I use a solid cast iron skillet or griddle on the spider for blackening steaks. I haven't ran temperature readings on the cast iron, just go by how light gray the cast iron looks.

    Not sure how the egg does it but I've found with a skillet/gridle in the fire ring the dome temps hang around 400-450 degrees which is perfect for finishing the steaks. My method is blacken on the cast iron skillet/griddle and finish on a grid in the dome.

    Man, I think there are a couple steaks in the freezer, dinner idea this week. t ACGP, Inc.
  • BuxwheatBuxwheat Posts: 727
    I don't have the instruments to make these kind of measurements either, but with my last few attempts at X-ert, or reverse sear, 90 seconds proved to be too much. Tonight I am cooking a small chunk of tenderloin (cut from a whole one: about the size of 4 filets) and I will be X-erting it, too. I am going to limit the sear to 30 secs. per side and hope to come out w/ a nice warm red center. I'll let you know how a shorter sear works out.
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
    The 200° will differ depending on setup. If you use the same lump height and grate height that difference will work for you.

    When your lump is at the orange lava look it will read approximately 1,900°.

    The radiant heat will heat up anything above the lump. Obviously the closer something is to the lump level the hotter it will get.

  • bitslammerbitslammer Posts: 818
    If you're reading the temp of the grate you might be getting some residual reading from the lump as the grate is not solid. I'd think a pan might be more accurate.

    I've tried to use my temp gun too but found it not so accurate for food. Nice for flat smooth surfaces but aside from that it seems to be an estimate only.
  • I will also be trying 30-45 seconds for my next effort.

    Interesting that we arrive at similar results from different starting points, eh? :)
  • I'm not sure the cast iron grate temperature was only 750ºF. It could have been far higher, but that's the highest the IR thermometer will read.

    I will try some readings with a lower dome temp and see if the 200º difference holds there, when the cast iron grate is hopefully still within the range of the thermometer.

    I was reminded of the grills that Raichlen sometimes uses that have a chain system that adjusts the food grate distance from the charcoal.
  • The bars on the cast iron grate are big enough that the laser dot can easily rest on one. I don't know how much larger than the dot the thermometer is actually reading, but that could be an issue. I'm more concerned about whether the temperature was above 750 and thus outside the range of the thermometer.
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