What? Smoked Steak? You don’t smoke steak! You SEAR steak! Before you assemble the angry mob, hear me out. Because this could be the best steak you have ever had. Before discovering this recipe, my only exposure to barbecue smoked meat had been 5-20 hour smoked cuts that are the signature of southern USA (see my visit to Bareknuckle BBQ). The monk-like dedication of these pit masters is staggering, the fire and meat temperatures need to be checked every two hours for an overnight cook. But the quality of the final product can be so good, so desirable that the process is worth it. The legendary Franklin BBQ in Austin, Texas has garnered a following large enough to have a daily line around the block, a live twitter feed of the wait time, and businesses that offer chair renting and line waiting services.
Lacking a trailer sized smoker and the dedication to stay up all night tending a fire, I had to scale back my ambitions a bit. A smoked steak seemed like a good option. It doesn’t require hours of low and slow cooking to break down tough muscle fibers and connective tissue like brisket does, and why deny such fantastic meat the additional depth of flavour that smoking can offer? Two hours of smoke, a quick sear, rest, carve and serve. The buttery medium rare interior and smoky charred bark made my colleagues act more like piranhas than engineers when this platter went round the office.
I served the steaks with a fresh BBQ sauce that combines the flavours of my two favourite sauces, Argentina’s Chimichurri and Kansas City BBQ sauce. It’s perfect with the meat, especially when you smoke the tomatoes and onions with the steaks as I’ve called for in the recipe. I used a gas DCS grill with smoker box attachment, but there is plenty of info out there on using a dedicated smoker or charcoal grill. Just try to keep that hood closed, “if you’re looking you’re not cooking!”
Serves 2-4Smoked T-Bone
2 tbsp salt
2 T-bone/Porterhouse steaks
Fresh Barbecue Sauce
1 brown onion
1 tbsp smoked paprika
½ tbsp. cumin seeds (ground)
1 tsp cayenne pepper for medium spice
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup fresh parsley
¼ cup fresh coriander
¼ cup fresh mint
5 cloves garlic
1 tbsp brown sugar
Juice of one lemon
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1. Sprinkle and pat steaks with salt, then let them sit on the bench top. Slice tomatoes and onion into wedges, trim the centre stalk of the tomatoes. Put in an aluminium tray (or makeshift version from foil) in oven to dehydrate on 150°C/300F for 40 minutes.
2. Make spice blend; combine paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, mustard powder, black pepper, and salt with vegetable oil. Remove tomatoes and onions from the oven and apply spice blend with a basting brush (or apply using a bunch of herbs instead).
3. Fill a smoker box with your favourite woodchips (I don’t soak them), set above one burner on low heat. Stack steaks and put 4 skewers through them, stand them on their side and spread them apart so there is a 2 inch gap between them.
4. Place tray of tomatoes and onions close to the burner, as we want these to caramelize. Place steaks on the cooler opposite side of the BBQ, we don’t want to them to get above rare in their centre.
5. Smoke for 2 hours, replenishing woodchips when you notice a drop off in smoke production. The steak should pick up a smoky exterior but not be cooking much at all. Use a temperature probe to make sure it is staying below rare.
6. Remove, cover and rest the steaks while you make the sauce.
7. Finely chop smoked tomatoes, onions, fresh herbs and garlic. Combine in a bowl with tomato and onion pan juices, brown sugar, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste and add more sugar/balsamic if desired.
8. Turn up grill burners to max setting and allow to heat up for 10 minutes.
9. Sear the steaks to desired doneness, about 2 minutes each side for medium rare. Use an internal temperature probe to check doneness and remember to allow for a few degrees of temperature rise during resting.
10. Remove from the grill and rest under loosely tented foil for 10 minutes. Carve into bite size pieces for a group or serve whole and enjoy!