I’ve always been sceptical about cooking steak ‘dirty’ despite many bbqers stating that this is the best way to cook a steak. For those of you not familiar with this method – Rest assured, cooking a steak ‘dirty’ doesn’t actually involve any dirt. It actually means that instead of cooking your steak on the bbq’s grill, you place the steak directly onto the coals. Now if you’re anything like me, when I first heard of ‘dirty steaks’ you’ll be thinking a few different things. Why? Wouldn’t it burn? Wouldn’t it get covered in charcoal and ash? I’ll answer those questions for you now.
First of all, the reason why you should cook steaks this way is simple. It tastes fantastic! Just think of that flavour your food absorbs when you normally cook anything on a bbq. Now times that by ten and you’ll be a little closer to the mouth watering flavour-fullness of this steak. Seriously, once you try this you won’t want to cook steaks any other way.
To answer your second question – the steak doesn’t burn at all. Yes it is surprising because instinct tells you that the coals would be far too hot. But in fact, as soon as you place the steak onto the coals something changes. I’m not sure of the exact explanation. Perhaps the steak cools the coals slightly? Of course it is still very hot but you get the perfect crust on the outside whilst cooking your steak to a perfect medium or medium rare in the centre.
Finally, the steak does not get dirty or covered in ash. This is perhaps the most surprising. I did give the coals a quick blow prior to placing the steaks onto the charcoal, but there was no ash at all stuck to my steak. Again I’m not entirely positive why that doesn’t happen. My not so expert opinion is simply that the steak seals quite quickly giving no chance for anything to stick.
So now that I have answered those wholly legitimate questions – I 100% recommend that everybody tries to cook a steak this way at least once. If you don’t like it, don’t do it again but I would be surprised if this didn’t become your favourite way to cook a steak. Just a few pointers before you try this though. First of all, you must use good quality, restaurant grade lumpwood charcoal. Because you are placing your food directly onto the charcoal, the instant light stuff or briquettes won’t do. They contain chemical additives and binders, neither of which are good for your health or taste good. Second, make sure your coals are white hot. If they are still black they’re not ready to cook on. The steak will cook unevenly and leave black dust from the charcoal on your food. Finally, these won’t take long to cook. Get everything you will need ready before you put the steaks on. Long tongs, a plate to transfer, salt & pepper etc. You need to keep a watch on the steaks constantly and be ready to remove them at just the right moment. Leave your steak to rest for a few minutes before serving and enjoy!
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Written by Tomos Newland-Jones @MrNewland66