Friday, January 1, 2010

Hot Tubbed Steaks & Cast Iron Grates

Happy Blogiversary!
Today is the one year anniversary of Nibble Me This.

To celebrate I'm going to do a "Cast Iron Chef" theme this week focusing on cooking with cast iron. Grates, dutch ovens, bread molds, and skillets. Today, I'm looking at cast iron grill grates.

Hot Tubbed Ribeyes with Gorgonzola Butter
Gorgonzola butter
Source: Southern Living

2 heads of garlic, top 3/4 inch cut off to expose cloves
(we used just one head)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (about 2 ounces)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
(we used about 1 T of dried basil)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place garlic on piece of foil; drizzle with olive oil. Enclose garlic in foil. Bake until garlic is very soft, about 1 hour. Cool. Squeeze garlic cloves out from papery skins into medium bowl; mash garlic with fork. Mix in butter, cheese, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer Gorgonzola butter to sheet of plastic wrap. Using plastic wrap as aid, form butter into 1 1/4-inch-diameter log, wrapping plastic tightly around butter. Chill until firm. (Can be made 2 days ahead; keep chilled.) Cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds.

The "hot tub" part isn't as much of a recipe as it is a process that I have read about on the Big Green Egg forum, a wonderful source of live fire cooking information. There are basically 4 methods of grilling steaks that I'm familiar with:
  • straight grilling - what most folks do, cooking a steak over a high heat (500-600f) from start to finish
  • TREX Method - searing steak over high temps (750f) for 90 seconds a side, rest 20 minutes, finish roasting at 400f.
  • Finney Reverse sear method - roasting steak over a lower temp (200f) until it hits close to your desired internal temp for doneness, rest and then searing at a high temp (750f)
  • Hot Tub Method
This is the first time I tried the Hot Tub method. The basic process is to kind of "sous vide" your steak to an internal temp of about 100f and the finishing it with a high temp sear. The theoretic reasons behind doing it this way are:
  1. Food Safety - You hear people say "let your steak come to room temperature" but to actually do that requires keeping your meet in the danger zone for bacterial growth (40f-140f) for a significant period of time. Water conducts heat way faster than air so this cuts the opportunity for food borne pathogens.
  2. Even cooking - Since this bringing the temperature of the whole steak to about 100f when you start grilling, you are starting with a smaller difference between external and internal temps and should end up with a more evenly cooked steak.
The original version actually has you placing your steaks (vacuum sealed or in a ziploc bag) in an actual hot tub for 1 hour.

I don't have a hot tub and the neighbors would think I was weird if I used theirs, so I used a large stock pot over the lowest heat, carefully monitoring the water temperature keeping it between 100-105f. I put the steaks in for 1 hour.
The sticks were a rig I made to keep the steaks off of the bottom of the pot suspended in hot water. I thought I was going to have to keep the water hot by using the burners. Not necessary, I only had to fire them up once or twice to keep the temp up.

I like to add a little bit of oak chips just before grilling my steaks. I know they won't take much smoke flavor but they'll get some.

Season them with a rub (I used my Cajun Beef Rub), throw them on a hot cast iron grill grate over a searing hot fire (600f) for 90 seconds a side for rare/medium rare.

For pretty grill marks, I break that time up into four 45 second periods, turning to get the crisscross pattern.

Let them rest on a plate for 10 minutes, top with gorgonzola butter and serve. Tonight we served with black eyed peas and collard greens since it is New Years Day, a tradition in the south.

Our thoughts? The gorgonzola compound butter was a mouthful of flavor. It would be good not only on grilled steaks but also on bread, potatoes, or just about anything. We loved it.

The steaks were as good as any other methods we've done. They were very evenly cooked through and tender. But they weren't any better than the other methods we use, so it wasn't worth babysitting the steaks in the pot trying to keep the temp at 105f. If I had a real hot tub, then I'd definitely do it again for the novelty & not having to fuss with the stove top.

Craycourt Cast Iron Grill Grates
A lot of folks here and on the Egg forum have noticed my cast iron grate.

It was sent to me to try out from the great folks at Craycourt and I have to say I am very impressed with the design, quality, and performance of these modular cast iron grates. Yes, I got it for free but I would feel the same way if I had paid the full $70 for it. It's worth more than that.

They can be used on the large Big Green Egg or any 18.5" or 22.5" round grills like a Weber. Someone on the Egg forum mentioned that it was too bad that they weren't available in the XL Big Green Egg size but my source tells me that Craycourt is looking into producing that.

The grate thing (pun intended) about any cast iron grate for grilling is the even heat distribution, durability, and ability to provide gorgeous sear marks. In the "Tender Is The Loin" episode of Good Eats, Alton Brown notes that no other cooking utensil can soak up and redistribute heat like cast iron. Why do you think Grandma used that trusted cast iron skillet everyday?

But there are several advantages that I have found the Craycourt grates have over standard cast iron grates. The first and least important is, just looks so cool, doesn't it? It looks like art.

The second and very functional advantage is the ability to remove individual portions instead of the entire grate. This facilitates adding coal or wood to your grill during a cook. It also makes it easier to clean since you're only cleaning only the parts that you used.

The third and most unique feature of these grates is the modular components. You can remove the grate and insert other units like cast iron griddles, pizza stones, and chicken holders. I haven't seen ANY other grill grate like that, cast iron or otherwise.

I love that option. I can grill steaks at the same time I am cooking scallops on a griddle section for surf and turf. Or ham and eggs. get the point.

After using it dozens of times for a month, I am adding the Craycourt cast iron grate to my "Endorsed" page and would personally recommend it for any serious grilling enthusiasts. It is one of the best accessories I have ever gotten for my Big Green Egg or any grill for that matter.

So tell me:
1) How old is your blog?
2) What's your favorite steak?'
3) What's the oddest thing you've done in a hot tub other than cooking?

(yeah, maybe we should all plead the fifth on #3 )


  1. Happy blogiversary Chris! This is a great post. That butter sounds wonderful and the steaks look better than restaurant quality and perfect. My favorite steak? I was going to say I've never met a steak I didn't like, but I've had some bad ones in restaurants, you know..those overdone leathery nighmnares. My blog is eight months old this month...still in diapers.

  2. great, now I have egg AND grate envy

    1 - 7 months

    2 - Beef tenderloin

    3- OK, I'll take the 5th

  3. How funny...great minds think alike...I am posting something I tested and wrote about seasoning cast iron on Monday, so I am linking back to you, if you do not mind...

    Do you season this as well? Will this grate fit inside a large cast iron pan? For stove top grilling?

    Riddle me is french for griddle me :)

  4. You and Dr. Biggles are very lucky to rry this grill. Did you stand on it? This grate looks like fun and will be a grate addition to BBQ atyff.

  5. Beautiful steak with Gorgonzola mmmm extremely delicious recipe!!

    Congrats for your Blogiversary!!!!

    Talking about beef, well steaks, impossible to mention one, the principal is that the same must of high quality, tender and juicy :)

    Happy New Year to You!!



  6. What a great post! Seriously. I never knew all those ways to grill a steak. Interesting method to let a steak come to room temperature in 100 degree water. Your steak looks beautiful and has perfect grill marks. Congrats on one year of blogging. I'm reaching one year soon. My favorite steak is a sirloin rubbed with blackening seasonings. Maybe I should plead the fifth on #3. I'll save that one for Donna :D

  7. Happy blog birthday/anniversary. Do you know how few blogs make it one year? Congratulations.

    My blog turned one in November, my favorite steak is cooked in a black cast iron skillet, medium rare with a nice crust and I'm not telling about the hot tub......

  8. Congrats on 1 year blogging! Cast iron grates for grill marks are the best...

  9. Congrats on your blogiversary! The steak looks good! Glad to know that I can skip the hot tub method and still get a good steak.

  10. I can't wait for the rest of the cast iron series. I have lots of cast iron, most of it seasoned beautifully. I had taken care of it the same way for years, never a problem. Then, I read something about how I was "supposed" to be taking care of it, and completely ruined the seasoning on a Dutch oven. I know, I know.... if it's not broke yadda yadda. I spent most of this last week trying to put a decent surface back on the thing.

    Oh, my favorite steak is a rib eye, either seared in a cast iron skillet, then finished off briefly in the oven, or seared on a hot grill, then finished with indirect heat. Either way, rare as rare can be.

  11. Chef E: No, they come preseasoned from Craycourt. I just wiped it off and used it.

  12. Congrats on your blogoversary. You have one of the best blogs on the net. Always informative and always fun.

    My blog is 5 1/2 years old and going thru some growing pains at the moment.

    Favorite steak? Porterhouse or rib eye. Always grilled over wood and/or charcoal. Simpley seasoned with salt, pepper and rubbed with garlic.

    As for hot tub experiences, well some things are better left in the sealed file section of a New Mexico DA's office.

  13. Congrats on the year. Interesting concept on the steak - reminds me of the dishwasher salmon my son cooked, which turned out great. Hope the peas bring you good luck - I only at a spoonfull so I may be at risk.

  14. Happy blogiversary back at you from someone who shares your happy day with you. Great article, and you picked my favorite steak to commemorate the day. I have no comment on the hot tub story as it happened with wife #1, and current wife really doesn't need to know about it... ;)

  15. What a great site! Thanks for visiting mine today! I'm going to add you to my blogroll and put your blog on my list of great cooking blogs on my cookbook!!

  16. Thanks for the recommendation on the grate. My SIL has a BGE that he "adores," so this would make a nice gift. I love to cook in cast iron. I have several pieces that I use all of the time. My skillets were wedding gifts over 40 years ago and are seasoned perfectly. I have my grandmothers cast iron Dutch oven and her corn stick pans plus a heart-shaped pan that she gave me after I was married. I'll be back to see what other goodies you offer up. I host a weekly blog event called Crock Pot Wednesday and would love to see you ther.

  17. Happy Anniversary Chris! I love your blog. I hope you are planning to blog for a very long time.

    Looking forward to your cast-iron grate grill recipes!

    Happy New Year!

  18. I so so so love flavored butters! Gorgonzola .. I must try that!

    Happy Blogaversarry!!(sp?)

    Didja know they sell cast iron handcuffs, want me to guest post it for ya? Kidding:)

  19. Happy Blogiversary and Happy New Year Chris!

    When I first saw the title I wondered if Donna and her hubby had moved into the neighborhood ;-)

    Everything looks delicious as always and yes, definitely going to try that Gorgonzola butter - Yum! That grate looks excellent and I really love how it had different modular components that can be inserted, now that's cool!

    1. My blog is probably a little more than a year old - but it doesn't count because I was one those who got tossed out when AOL closed their journals - my main blog there was probably 5 years old.

    2. I usually make ribeyes but my very favorite is a nice big plate sized porterhouse, T-bones and NY strips are nice too - maybe you should have asked me what kind of steak I don't like instead?

    3. I guess I have plead the fifth too :-)

  20. Happy Blogiversary! At first I read that as hot tube steaks. Yeah.

  21. I am still in Panama and using the web is like the hardest chore you can imagine! Either the keyboard in broken, or the cafe is closed (despite their posted hours) or access is denied for some unknown reason! But I found a moment to come here and was not disappointed. Happy -versary and Happy New Year. You have been one of the highlights for me. GREG

  22. Happy Blogaversary! There seems to be several of us celebrating the same thing :).
    What an awesome cast iron grate! I'll have to keep my eye's open for one of those for Sir Sportsalot

  23. Hey Chris, congrats on the one year anniversary. Mine is a lot younger, lot younger. I really want one of those cast iron grates for the kettle.
    My favorite steak is a bone-in rib eye chop, cooked over very high fire, over red oak and lump, nothing but kosher salt and medium grind black pepper, maybe some butter at the end.

  24. Congrats on the one year Chris. That modular grate is awesome. I might have to get a big green egg so that I can pick one of those up. Congrats again.

  25. I have found that most un-marbled steaks work well with the hot tub method but heavily marbled steaks like ribeye are much better grilled traditionally as the searing fat has a flavor which compliments the meat. A lean filet is more uniform and tender using the souse vide, (hot tub), method. Thanks for sharing your blog, I enjoy it.


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