For decades, it’s been taught that in order to cook delicious steaks or chops, the grill has to be fire hot and then you throw the steak down on the grill and char it to death. This technique is called “direct searing.” The only problem is that with steaks or other meats over one inch thick, you can easily either under or overcook them. We may want the char, but we want to make sure the inside is cooked properly as well.
Using the “direct sear” technique is very similar to being on a runaway train. It becomes very tricky to adjust the grilling process once you’re going at a fast speed. The “reverse sear” technique is much more controlled.
How it Works:
You will need to utilize your gas or charcoal grill for indirect cooking. This involves lighting only half of your grill. Place the meat on the unlit side, instead of right in the fire. Close the lid to your grill and make sure to monitor the internal temperature with a digital thermometer (like our Maverick PT-100BBQ, wireless ET-732, ET 735).
By lowering the convection heat, you have brought the train to a manageable speed. Once the meat reaches an internal temperature of 120 degrees (medium 135 degrees), crank up the lit side to “mach speed” and sear the steak by flipping it back and forth to develop that nice golden brown look with the delicious char.
By this time, your internal temperature should be between 130 degrees and 135 degrees (medium 145 degrees), which would make it medium rare. There is no need to let your steak sit; it will only continue to cook from the internal heat. So enjoy it right away!
To create those delicious morsels of crispy deep brown nuggets found on that perfectly cooked steak and brisket, you need the presence of sugar.
When meats are exposed to heat, they release sugar and amino acids.
On a quick cook such as steaks, usually the high cooking temperature will provide the elements essential to achieving those crispy nuggets, which are known as the Maillard Effect.
Here’s what needs to be done:
When cooking a steak, for instance, make sure the surface of the meat is absolutely dry.
If not, when the heat hits it you will be steaming the surface of the meat.
After drying the meat with a paper towel, you can sprinkle sugar on the surface and allow the steak to sit so the sugar can penetrate the surface.
At high heat, place the steak on the grill and keep flipping as necessary to achieve that golden brown surface.
On large cuts of meat, because they are cooked low and slow, we will add brown sugar or a layering of seasonings – one of which is high in sugar – to help achieve a nice bark.
Check out our recipes for smoked brisket and pulled pork.
As per Wikipedia the Maillard reaction is “a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned foods their desirable flavor. Seared steaks, pan-fried dumplings, breads, and many other foods make use of the effect. It is named after French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard, who first described it in 1912 while attempting to reproduce biological protein synthesis.”