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Searing question/problem

CigarManCigarMan Posts: 27
edited December 2011 in Beef
So I've cooked individual filets, ribeyes, and strips a few times now on my large BGE. I've tried the TREX method, and the reverse sear method (lower temps, with some wood chunks for flavor, then bring it up high to finish it off).  

The problem I'm having is that despite heating up the egg, getting a huge fire going, and lava esque coals, my steaks almost always end up with half or more of the rub coming off the steak and being stuck on the grate. What am I doing wrong? Is there a smaller grate/plate I can get that I can use that will get closer to the coals and heat up to a higher, searing temp? Has anyone ever tried a piece of cast iron/stainless steel and putting that on top of the ceramic grate and searing on that to get a more even sear while maintaining the rub on the steak?  I'm looking for the best ways to get a nice crust on the steak, more so than just a searing method.

The steaks have all come out perfectly cooked, regardless of how I've done it, but I would really like to get the rub to stay on the meat and not on my grate.

Thanks in advance for your advice!


  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    If it sticks, you are flipping too soon. Or you just have too much rub on them. If you have a lot of rub, it will just stick to the grill.

    Fwiw, rub on a steak seared at high heat will just basically burn anyway.

    If you Trex, sear first, add rub during the rest, and eoast to finish

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • That may be the problem, just too much rub. Maybe I'll try to sear, then add rub, that may be an answer....
  • GatoGato Posts: 766
    Like Stike says, my initial thought was the same. May be flipping too soon. The meat will turn loose from the grate when ready.
    Geaux Tigers!!!
  • Does a cast iron grate make a huge difference when searing? Thoughts on the spider?
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    Cast iron gives you grill marks, but it is the open space between the grid lines that gives the sear from the direct radiant heat of the lump

    There's actually less potential for sear with cast iron because the steaks 'sees' less lump. But it's hair splitting.

    If you like grill marks, you'll get them with the cast iron. Aso means you can flip in-place rather than moving the steak to a 'hot' part of the grid.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • Honestly, I'm not worried about grill marks, I more want an even seared crust.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    edited December 2011
    Just saying, less sear with CI, but the difference probably negligible

    You wont get 'sear' with rubs or oil. You'll get burnt rub and burnt oil. Best sear is a dry steak on a hot (but not ridiculous) fire

    You can sear at 400, close to the fire. This will control the sear by slowing it. You won't open the egg to find the seak suddenly too burnt, too far gone. But if you are at 800+, the window is much narrower because the sear is much faster. Can go from
    Perfect to toast very quickly.

    An even better sear comes from dry aged. Try that some time. Age a primal and slab off steaks. Dont try to age a steak all by itself.

    Here's a strip steak, aged, which had nothing but salt on it
    (hmmm. Can't add a photo at the moment)
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • Hillbilly-HightechHillbilly-Hightech Posts: 966
    edited December 2011
    Here's a variation that I've found works WONDERS for me: 

    First, I don't put any rub on prior to the sear.  Then, rather than get the Egg up to "lava" temps, I just use a smaller grate (I believe my grate is 13") & throw it directly on top of the coals - and sear it that way - about 60 seconds/side (see pic below).  That way, I don't have to spend so much time trying to get the Egg to cool down!!

    Then I remove & wrap in aluminum foil while I remove the smaller grate & add my regular grate, adjust the vents & close the dome to get the Egg to about 350. 

    While I'm waiting for the Egg to come to temp, I unwrap the foil & THEN add my rub to both sides, then rewrap & allow the steaks to rest for approximately 10-15 minutes (or until I can get the Egg stabilized to about 350). 

    Then I put the steaks back on the Egg & roast until desired doneness (I usually pull at about 118-125), and then AGAIN wrap in aluminum foil & allow to rest for another 10 minutes before serving. 

    This method works so well that my family refuses to go out for steaks anymore, as they say mine are much better!!  :D

    Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup... Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. - Bruce Lee
  • Rob,

    That's kind of what I was thinking would work the best, a smaller grate directly on the coals. What type of 13" grate do you have (CI or SS)?

    When I say crust, this is what I'm going for. This was the last steak I did using Flay's chili and coffee rub recipe. I seared this first, but the rub/crust fell off in the process. I then added a little more, then wrapped it in foil, dropped temps, and put it back. I think the answer here may be to get a smaller grate that can heat up faster and hotter directly on the coals, sear with a little rub on it, then take off, put the real layer of rub, then cook on the regular grate until it's done. 


  • SqueezySqueezy Posts: 1,102


    styke's photo

    Never eat anything passed through a window unless you're a seagull ... BGE Lg.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    edited December 2011
    HH and cigar-dude. Crust looks great. I like a crustified steak every now and then, myself. I didnt see the possibility that the OP was actually talking about crust rather than sear. Nice catch

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • Hillbilly-HightechHillbilly-Hightech Posts: 966
    edited December 2011
    hmmmm, well I wasn't originally aware you were wanting an actual "crust" rather than a sear either - I don't think that foiling them will allow the crust to build (as was mentioned in my original advice). 

    There are a few ways to try for a "crust" - you should "Egg-speriment' & see which works best for you. 

    One way is to coat the steak w/ Kosher salt - I tried this ONCE & didn't like the results as it imparted too much of a salty taste for my liking (I also put a rub on the steak after wiping the salt down, and the rub had salt in it as well, so that could've been the problem - but my GF hasn't allowed me to try the salt method since then as she doesn't want to ruin good steaks again).  Anyway, rub w/ salt & let sit approx 30 minutes for a 1" thick steak.  Then rinse off w/ water & pat dry.  Then sear & cook as normal.  (I also vaguely remember that some folks actually leave the salt on as they cook the meat) - I've not tried this so I'm not sure...

    Another method I've seen ppl use, but I've not tried myself is to slather yellow mustard on the steak, then apply your rub (I know, it sounds weird, but those who do it swear you can't taste the mustard).

    Another way to achieve a "crust" is to use a rub w/ sugar, but that is like walking a tight-rope - there's not much room for error - if you get the temp too high, you'll burn the sugar too much & it'll taste like... well, burnt sugar... but, if you can get it in the proper "zone" of temp & time, you'll caramelize the sugar, which produces the crust, or bark...

    I personally like a sear rather than a crust, so I don't know how to produce a good crust on a steak - hopefully someone will chime in...
    Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup... Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. - Bruce Lee
  • CigarManCigarMan Posts: 27
    edited December 2011
    Yeah, got my words screwed up when trying to describe everything. I'm still thinking that getting a 13" cast iron grate, or even just removing the fire ring will do the job. Obviously I was able to get a char crust in the past with the ceramic grate, I'm thinking the rub I used was a big part of it. 

    The problem I had in the first place was the rub coming off of the steak, which as mentioned previously, was probably due to applying too much. What I did was apply some olive oil, then the rub, and let them sit for about an hour to come to room temp. Then I put them on the egg, which was at about 750 or so, for about a minute and a half each side. When I flipped the steak each time, the rub was left on the grate. I applied a little more rub while I brought temps down and then put the steak back on the grill. The end result was that picture. 

    I guess my question is, when going for a char/crust with a seasoning/rub like I pictured previously, how does that differ (temperature, length, location of grate) than when searing w/ a little salt and pepper.

    What I'm slightly worried about it if I pull the fire ring out and put the grate I have on the coals to get a char, like the previous poster said, instead of charring it, ending up burning it. Guess it'll have to just be some trial and error. Next time I'll try pulling the fire ring and dropping the grate and see what happens. 

    I may look into a small cast iron skillet to use and just put it directly on the coals.
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