Thursday, December 19, 2013

Grilled versus Griddled Steaks

Which do you like better, a steak from the grill or a steak cooked in a pan?

Steak cooked on a cast iron griddle.

Both have their advantages.  
  • Grilled streaks have that smoky or char flavor and it's hard not to "eat with your eyes first" when you see nice cross hatch marks.  Getting to play with fire is just a bonus.
  • Pan seared steaks have an even Malliard browned crust across most of the steak surface, bringing more flavor to the steak.  It's like having grill marks that cover the top and bottom. Pan searing steaks also gives you sucs or fond in the pan to use in a delicious pan sauce. 

To quote renowned author, bbq whisperer, and hedonism evangelist, Meathead of, 
Grill marks are flavorful and crunchy, and they look great (grate?). But the goal is to get the entire surface as dark as the grill marks. If the grill marks taste wonderful, why not give the same treatment to the whole surface?

This past weekend I thought I would grill and griddle a pair of prime ribeyes side by side just for fun.  They were seasoned the same and cooked to the same temp, so the only difference was how I cooked them.  

Both were lightly oiled and seasoned with salt and garlic pepper seasoning. (not finished yet in this pic)
I was cooking a few baked potatoes on a kamado grill first so the grill was already preheated to 400f.  To make sure the grill grate and griddle were fully preheated, I put them on a spider rig under the plate setter while the potatoes cooked.  Think of this as similar to putting a cast iron pan in the oven to get it hot while baking potatoes.  Same deal.  So when the potatoes were done, I only had to take out the HOT platesetter (welding gloves, move fast, have heat resistant place to set it) and the grill was ready to go for the steaks.

I used a Craycort grill grate system for a medium BGE with a grate on one side and a griddle on the other.   I used the TRex method of sear then roast.  

A "spider rig" is the stainless steel "wires" that you see holding the grates just over the coals.

The steaks cooked for the same length of time, but the grilled one got rotated 90 degrees half way through on each side.  This was just to get the cross hatch marks.

After getting a good sear "to seal in the juices"  (just kidding, it doesn't really do that, just like throwing that in there to give my BBQ Brethren fits),  I put the plate setter back in and let the steaks finish cooking to 127f.   The pan and rack aren't necessary but I wanted the rest of the cooking to be done entirely by convection, not direct heat from the grates or radiating from a hot platesetter.  

The roast portion took about 15 minutes, just long enough to finish my twice baked potato.
The griddled steak combines the best of a grilled steak (smoky flavor that can't be imitated) and pan seared steak (even caramelization and tasty crust).   On the down side, you don't get to make a pan sauce on a griddle or grill.

The yeast rolls were made from The Slow Roasted Italian's recipe for Copycat Texas Roadhouse rolls.

Alexis and I both preferred the griddled steak.  Trevor preferred the grilled one.  It just goes to show, there's no right and wrong here, just preferences.  Of more appropriately for me, it is "my preference at the given time" since I keep changing my favorites!  In fact, mine are different by steak, as follows:
  • beef filet - reverse sear
  • NY Strip - toss up between reverse sear on grill and au Poivre in a pan
  • Ribeye - griddled for a sear/roast
  • Flank, flat iron, and/or skirt steak - direct
Which do you prefer, a grilled steak or a steak cooked in a pan/on a flat top?