“Cold Grate” Technique – A new spin (literally!) on searing with charcoal
Everyone agrees: grill marks = flavor. The brown crust that forms due to the exposure of meat to high heat (Maillard reaction) produces the most flavorful bites. So why are we happy with food that only has strips of flavor? What if we could have all-over flavor? We can! The Slow ‘N Sear and the “Cold Grate” Technique make it both possible and incredibly easy.
Say goodbye to grill marks…
…and HELLO! to all over sear and fantastic flavor!
Why are we so used to grill marks?
It’s no surprise that we’ve learned to think that a grill-marked steak looks delicious. Most grills (even in restaurants) don’t get hot enough to deliver an all-over sear to the food. Instead, they rely on the heat from the cooking grate to do most of the cooking. The meat touching the grate gets nice and browned but the rest of the surface just gets cooked without any additional flavor. This is why you usually see tan banding around the outside edges of a grill-marked steak when you cut into it rather than the wall-to-wall red (assuming you like your steak medium rare) you get with the Cold Grate Technique.
No tan banding here! This “Cold Grate”, reverse seared ribeye has wall-to-wall uniform interior color.
- The fully walled basket keeps coals away from the kettle wall so heat stays inside the grill
- The slightly angled walls of the basket encourages even burn of fuel and concentrates heat
- The basket itself is large enough to hold enough fuel to generate super-high temperatures (1000+ F)
A cold cooking grate – the key to perfectly cooked steak
Now that we have an intensely hot sear zone, we’re going to let the fire do the cooking and not the grate.
- Instead of heating up your cooking grate, do everything you can to keep it COLD and out of the way of your intense radiant heat.
- Use a thin wire grate so it can’t store heat energy and put it on at the last moment so it’s not hot when the steak is first set on the grill.
- Maintain a two zone fire so only part of the grate is over the sear zone.
- When it’s time to flip, spin the grate so that you’re always using a cold grate and a very hot fire to sear.
As demonstrated here, the Cold Grate Technique is the ideal way to cook a perfect steak over charcoal. But the technique can be applied to other meats as well. In addition to highlighting the technique in our ribeye, prime rib, and tri-tip videos, we’ve also made fantastic lamb chops. “Cold Grate” is also an ideal technique for chicken, providing a perfect finishing sear without worrying about burning the delicate skin on a searing-hot grate.
Try it with your favorite meat and leave us a comment below to let us know what you think!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
You’ll notice that many articles about cooking a perfect steak inside use a cast iron pan. Cast iron delivers all the same benefits of all-over sear as does the Cold Grate Technique. But there’s a reason why so many of us cook with charcoal – the additional flavor added from the charcoal and/or smoke wood during the cook adds another layer of flavor that you just can’t get with cast iron.
Yes! Since a reverse seared piece of meat is already cooked close to final temperature the total sear time will be less than using the tehcnique for a front sear. They key to front or reverse searing is to flip often (every one minute or so) so the cooking grate doesn’t get hot enough to leave sear marks.