Monday, March 1, 2010

1. Cooking Temperature: Ideal Temperature

This is the first in the following series of blogs on the ideal cooking temperature for grilling a steak over live coals:

1. Cooking Temperature: Ideal Temperature
2. Cooking Temperature: 1600 Degrees?
3. Cooking Temperature: Need to Modify Grill Height
4. Cooking Temperature: Measure Temperature
5. Cooking Temperature: Measure Grill Height
6. Cooking Temperature: Calculate Ideal Grill Height
7. Cooking Temperature: Modify Grill Height
8. Cooking Temperature: Inverse Square Law

What is the correct temperature to achieve SteakPerfection?

Food scientists have conducted extensive tests, which show that the perfect temperature for cooking a high-quality steak over live coals is 750°. That is, the temperature at the meat level (where the steak sits on the grill) is 750°. This is a very high temperature for a charcoal grill and is a real challenge for backyard chefs, because most grills are designed to cook at a temperature of only 370°, using a normal amount of charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal.

Some steakhouse chains claim that they cook a steak in an infrared oven at 1,800°, but this is misleading. If a steak is cooked at 1,800°, it would be inedible, because, by the time it is cooked medium-rare on the inside, it would be burnt to a crisp on the outside.

There are two ways that steakhouse chains make the 1,800° claim but do not burn the exterior. One way is to use an 1,800° oven but place the steaks 3” from the heat, where the temperature at the meat level is only 750°. A second way is to use an 1,800° oven to cook the steaks for only a minute or two, to give the exterior a rich crust, and then remove the steaks to an ordinary oven for finishing at a much lower temperature. Both these ways are regularly used by steakhouse chains.

SteakPerfection is a complex process that involves every detail, from pasture to plate.
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