The maximum exaltation of the great cuts of beef
Have you ever heard of a technique belonging to the world of traditional cuisine called “Maitre d’hotel“? Hard to have never seen it: it is when the Maitre d’Hotel in a very classic restaurant indeed, brings a small stove to the table on a trolley and proceeds to cook in a pan with some butter flavored with garlic and aromatic herbs a cut of meat, usually beef fillet, continuing to sprinkle it pouring over the melted butter mixed with its own juices. Yes, exactly it is likely you have seen it done in the Barbecue world (also by me on several occasions) with a steak on a cast iron Lodge. Well, now: have you ever heard of fat flashing? It is the habit of resuming the cauterization of a steak with very high temperature grease, out of the pan or of the cooking chamber to intensify its taste and enrich its bark. The net is full of funny videos in which entire venues catch fire in the attempt. Finally: are you aware of those large (in some cases very large) cuts of beef in which the slice has that beautiful intense pink color, homogeneous over the whole slice?
If you answered “Yes” to all the questions, you will be able to understand very well the effects of the cooking technique that I am going to explain to you and that I named Flash Roasting. Like many others, it was born on a need developed in catering, to be able to perform a phase of indirect cauterization in those dishes in which this is a highly characterizing element where for various reasons one does not wants to proceed with a too long rest. Don’t worry, now I’ll explain.
By the careful study of the method O.L.E.M.B.A.I. of construction and realization of a Creative Barbecue recipe, you know that one of our needs is to create a clear barbecue identity in the dish and that the two most characteristic factors in this regard are cauterization and smoking. The technique of Flash Roasting is destined to make us obtain the maximum under both points of view on any cut of “important” beef, that is all those from roast.
The final effect is the one as said, of a slice with an extremely homogeneous color, a beautiful deep pink and a pleasantly warm serving temperature, the opposite of the Roastbeef warm on the edge and cold in the center if you mean it. Fans of the SCA circuit on steaks cooking competitions could recognize this description as the “Warm Pink” concept known as the perfect presentation status to turn in to the judges to get a high score.
The heart of the opposite slice contrasts with an extremely intense, rich and satisfying surface cauterization, where Maillard get wed and literally “sizzles” under our eyes, reaching a stage of “sensory lust” that would otherwise be difficult to obtain on cuts of this type. The other element that makes it a perfect Creative Barbecue technique is the profound possibility of customization: certainly in relation to the type of cut to be used, to which Flash Roasting adapts in a transversal way but above all in relation to the fact that an important part is entrusted as we shall see, to the use of an aromatized butter, the choice of which has a considerable impact. Here you have a wide selection of sample themes but this is part of your contribution to the recipe.
The technique of Flash Roasting consists essentially in a double-phase cooking, which in borderline measure we could almost define a hybrid cooking, or which involves two different set-ups. In practice we break down the classic temperature cooking by Indirect Grilling, in two steps in which to exercise as many opposing actions. Do you know the effects of Reverse Searing on a steak? Besides the tenderizing of the fibers, there is unquestionably the chromatic uniformity and service temperature of the slice, extremely pleasant both visually and perceptively. The reason for this last result is certainly not a great secret: a slow and progressive growth of internal temperature. Here, this is what we need to look for in the first phase, through a cooking at medium temperature. In the second one we will look instead for a vehement cauterization, “crusting”, gluttonous and tasty through very high temperatures, to the extreme of classical indirect. To emphasize the effect we will bring a fat and rich element like butter that makes the surface frigulate at those temperatures and at that point we take the opportunity to make it part of the recipe, flavoring it as said.
All clear? I will try to dispel any last doubts by entering more specifically the individual phases and adding some small tips dictated by experience:
1. Trimming and Rubbing
Much of what concerns the processing of meat, prior to the start of the actual cooking, can be a distinctive part of the recipe that you could create and therefore susceptible to personal interpretation. Despite this, I give you two tips that you might find useful.
The first is to play the characterization of taste on the bark mainly through the role of flavored butter and then proceed at this stage to apply only a fine layer of a basic rub. As in many other cases I use a simple SPG for this purpose.
The second is where you have opted to save a layer of fat on the cut of meat you have chosen, to cut light incisions on the surface, a few millimeters deep and almost imperceptible to the eye. In the high temperature phase, the fat will tend to “bloom” and present a beautiful cauterization, like that of steaks. These small incisions will therefore be very evident and highly decorative. The reason is therefore solely aesthetic but highlights the contribution of Flash Roasting to the final result very effectively.
An interesting aspect to look into is the so-called Dry Brining. This is a technique that involves leaving the surface of the meat in contact with salt in the amount of about 1 teaspoon / kg, which triggers the effect of ionic loads (which do not need further study here) so to make the water emerge in a first phase, which breaks the bonds of the salt leading to its reabsorption mainly below the surface, improving moisture, tenderizing of the fibers and cauterization. In our case the main desired effect is to decrease the surface humidity and concentrate the sapidity perceptions in the layer immediately below the superficial one. The result will be to make the aforementioned role of butter even easier, richer and clearer in the subsequent flashing phase. In my opinion, the best way is simply to anticipate the application of the rub of a few hours, making it act as a flavored dry brining.
2. Smoking at 140°C
I have always considered the temperature range around 140° C as an underrated magical crossroads between two opposing worlds, a stupendous border line that unites many of the aspects of the Low & Slow and the classical Indirect Cooking. The 140° C temperature band adds to this effect (not to be overlooked, try to believe) a great advantage: smoking is a process that loves long times, we know it and those conditions are those that really ensure you a great result. I therefore advise you not to miss the opportunity at this stage to add woods such as Hickory or Oak or even just a kinder Beech, to beef in cooking depending on which cut you will choose.
An important factor to consider is the determination of the internal temperature at which to move to the next phase. Let’s start from the considerations that at high temperatures and in the presence of butter the meat will reach an intense browning in a rather rapid time and that this time will be realistically independent of the mass. On the contrary, the growth of the internal temperature will be faster in smaller and slower sections in the larger ones. Given that our goal is to prolong the first phase for as long as possible, in the first it will be necessary to anticipate the moment of passage. About “how much”, very honestly I tend to manage it from case to case because it is difficult to generalize. However, I got that an indication is needed and the best way I have gained over time is the following: consider your target cooking temperature and the minimum diameter of the slice of your meat cut. Now consider a standard value of 20 degrees to subtract the diameter value. Subtract the result from the target temperature and you will have the one to which I suggest you switch to the next phase.
Exemple: suppose we want to use Flash Roasting on a sirloin, with a regular, narrow and long shape, with a slice that could be 8×12 cm. Let’s say we want to bring it to 55 degrees to the heart. 20 – 8 = 12 from which we get 55 – 12 = 43 degrees. Do you understand the meaning? Now, I expect you to behave as Creative Grillers, or with the brain: it is just an indication, do not approach the recipe with the calculator in hand. I mean: if you get a huge rib roast of 20 cm of slice, it doesn’t mean you have to skip the final phase. The sense is only that the final phase will have to be very short, with just a few degrees of advance and maybe to raise the second phase room temperature by 5 degrees to facilitate the speed of the process. Clear? Head in what you do, always 😉
3. Application of Flavored Butter
If you have never tried to make flavored butter to melt on your steaks, you absolutely have to fix it. If, on the other hand, you have done it, you know well what a rich aromatic contribution it can give. In a post I wrote once you have many recipes that lend themselves well to the purpose but the limits to the possibilities in this sense are really only those of your imagination. The only procedural difference lies in the fact that the butter in this case should not be put back in the fridge to firm but it should be spread on the meat still reduced to pomade with the help of a brush.
The purpose is mainly to add a fat element on the bark and only secondarily to flavor it. This means that I will have to modulate my addition based on the amount of fat (especially on the cover) in the cut that will be the subject of the cooking. One of those that lend themselves better to Flash Roasting is the roasted picanha, then whole and not sliced (believe me by the word, it is a never-more-less!). In this case the addition of butter on the cover fat will be really a veil and I will focus more on the uncovered parts. If, on the other hand, I have a leaner cut like a Roastbeef or a CubeRoll I can literally make a “shirt” on them with flavored butter.
4. Roasting at 190°C
The last phase is of course the one in which we raise the temperature to the frantic search for the most delicious maillard that we can obtain, almost a fried effect. From various tests, I found the ideal temperature at 190° C: below 180° C the effect is decidedly more damped, while over 200° C there is a tendency to excessive browning and too dark colors of the bark.
As we have said, this last phase is a finishing one, the faster one dedicated to the bark burnishing/aromatization. Despite this, I anticipate that you will be surprised by having more time available than your experience will suggest. The addition of butter to the surface will be in small, a thermal shock that will slow down the heat transfer process to the meat. This means that when you put the cut back into cooking it will not start rising again immediately. If the indication that defines the step of transition between phase 2 and 3 counts a few degrees, then do not be frightened, it is all normal.
Owners of gas devices will clearly benefit greatly from the easiest temperature change and set up facility, but whenever possible, I recommend in any case that you carry out a two-zone tuxedo and two-point roasting side. For owners of coal devices, a good solution can be to use the embers containing baskets given in the kettles box: a first basket inserted at medium temperature, to which a second is added to the opposite side of the cooking area, optimizing performance and available space.
Considering that the mass of cuts generally interested lends itself, I advise you then to play a thread on the carry over and to stop two-three degrees before the target, giving you a few minutes of rest useful to further emphasize the beautiful pink effect.
The scope of application of Flash Roasting are clearly the red meats, those that love lower temperature gradients than well done. So certainly beef but also lamb or some special game cuts like in the case of roe deer or deer. The cuts of reference are certainly the great noble roasts, so all the cuts of the loin with the exception of the fillet and some possible outsiders such as the leg of lamb.
I tried them all a little and will list below a brief comment on my favorites. I think the absolute number one is carrè, like the Prime Rib Roast or the lamb rib roast. Honorable mention for the cut on which I first developed this technique, the whole Picanha: it is the easiest cut from which to start and on which it is very difficult to make a mistake because the fat in cooking will in any case keep the slice moisture high and an explosive taste. The final phase will also grease the fat spectacularly and almost eliminating the risk of burns. The result is then guaranteed 100%: I know many people to whom I have proposed that they claim to made it their reference technique for cooking the picanha leaving the sword definitively. It is the cut with which I advise you to start if perhaps you are among the Creatives with a less thread of experience, paying only attention to go more careful with the butter comparing to other cuts.
Other very interesting cuts are certainly the whole CubeRoll or even a Roastbeef. The regularity of the shape certainly helps you in the technical phase and the lean tendency of the meat lends itself very well to being enhanced by the addition of the butter while cooking. It is also about the cuts that best lend themselves to enriching the recipes through customizations dictated by the addition of other ingredients or other cooking phases.
Now all you have to do is add the Flash Roasting to the arrows on your bow when you have to design your dish and as always, have fun using it the way it will fit your imagination.
Have a good Creative Barbecue!