High off of our first experience cooking with the smoker I decided we should try cooking some steaks. I love to eat local so I purchase most of our meat from the Italian Shops here in Calgary. They bring in beautiful fresh Piedmont beef from Messinger Meats near Lacombe Alberta. We really enjoy their rib eye steaks, one steak runs about 12-15 dollars but it can be cut in half and feed us each a more than recommended serving size steak.
I like to keep out steak seasoning simple with just a little bit of seasoned pepper, seasoning salt and sometimes a little Amchoor powder (this is an all natural meat tenderizer and is just powdered green mango and I purchase mine at Silk Road Spice Merchant). I am of the school that says to liberally salt your steaks well ahead of cooking to allow it to pull out the moisture then re-absorb it before cooking and this has been serving us well by making our steaks tender and juicy.
Here’s where the question comes in to smoke or grill and what is the difference. After doing some on line research and speaking to a couple of other back yard chefs here is what I came up with. Smoking is done at low temperatures (from 140-160 degrees) which allows the smoker to produce more smoke and cook the meat slower so that it absorbs more of the smoke flavour. Grilling turns up that temperature and lessens both the smoke and the cooking times. This still allows the food to absorb some of the smoke flavour while cooking it faster and is much better for more delicate foods.
Our Traeger came with a couple of meat temperature probes so I thought this would be a great chance to try it out. I put the probe into the steak and set them to a slow smoke for about half an hour. When I checked the steaks out after the first half hour they did not look like there was much change except the pink around the outside of the steak was much deeper.
After the half hour on low smoke I ramped up the temperature and finished the steaks by grilling them at 375 until the probe read 145 which was supposed to be the correct temperature for a medium rare steak. Although it is not requited that you flip the meat when cooking it on the smoker even during grilling I decided to flip the steaks just to give the other side some grill marks.
We left the steaks to rest for about 10 minutes and dug in. They came out looking a perfect pink and moist in the middle but I feel like it would have been better if they had come off the grill about 10 degrees earlier as they will always cook a little more as they rest.
They steaks smelled smoky and looked great but I have to say they were not the best steaks we have had. The smoking seems to have changed the texture of the steak and made it a bit grainy and tough although it looked pink and tender. The end decision for us was that the next time we try steaks we are going to go right to the grill it fast method and skip the slow smoke at the beginning.
As a side note, I did notice that while in smoking mode the temperature on the grill did seem to be quite high and hovered around the 250 degree mark. We are not sure if this is because it is a new smoker that has not had a lot of seasoning, if we are doing something wrong or if there is just something wrong with the temperature setting on the smoking unit itself. We will attempt to smoke something else in the near future and see what we get for temperature!
Learning as we go, I am Your Everyday Foodie.