UPDATE: Finally, with some successful experimentation under my belt (and some tasty food as well), I torched a steak …
Caption: The Steak, destined to become medium rare: Slow roasted in the BBQ with hood down around 300˚F (148˚C) for about 25 minutes until the internal temperature reached 140˚F (60˚C) — turned once — then turbo blasted for a few seconds to improve caramalisation. Then rested and carved. Moist and tender, less grey layer than usual for me, but I’d like to reduce that even more — by cooking slower at a lower temperature I think. More experiments are
The hypothesis is that if you slow roast meat to perfection and then quickly caramelise the surface with a hot blast from a massive propane torch — one can get a tender pink steak inside, a crisp burn on the outside and much less, if any, of the overdone grey layer of meat that separates those two extremes.
My experiment with a pork chop this afternoon seems to confirm this might be true. I seasoned a room temperature, thick cut pork chop with salt only. I cranked up the barbeque and then eased it back to a single burner, on low, to settle around 300˚F (148˚C). Then, with an oven roast thermometer inserted about an inch away from the bone, I let it slow roast with the top down — turning only once — for about a half hour in total until it reached 163˚F (73˚C), only two degrees away from medium doneness.
At this stage the chop looked dry and barely cooked. I turned off the heat, removed the thermometer probe and brushed the chop with a herbed oil and then blasted it with a propane torch: About five seconds on each side to crisp the surface — a beautiful caramelised brown with a few burnt bits. Then let it rest on a board, covered, for five minutes before carving.
The pork chop was pretty well perfectly cooked to a moist medium throughout the inside, all the way back to the inside bone. The exterior, the outside of the bone and the fatty rind included, was crisp and tasty.
Caption: The Equipment: A plain old Weber Genesis (thanks Joe, I’ll remember you fondly for it), a propane torch and an oven roast thermometer with probe.
Pros: Slow cooking the chop meant that it was perfectly and evenly cooked right up to the bone. This would be a very easy way to cook a lot of meat for a crowd and finish it to perfection in very little time. You get a lot of wiggle room to keep the meat slowly roasting until your guests are seated and ready to eat.
Cons: A torch this size is dangerous! A test Turbo blast out into space singed the violas six feet away. The torch neck is too long and the grip too far back to make it easy to handle. I’ll look into how I might half the length and reduce it from rifle length into a more handy pistol.
Other than the “Oh, ah!” value of seeing the meat torched so quickly this methodology dispenses with the tong/braai* master tradition. In fact the meat looks pretty unappetising while slow cooking so it’s just as well that you need to keep the top down.
I pan roasted some vegetables yesterday while testing the torch out for the first time — and ended up with a fabulous vegetarian meal: A medley of veg, rough cut and tossed in herbed oil with salt and gently baked in a basket until heated through: Since the torch burns and doesn’t cook you get to choose just how well done you like your food. We brined some sweet corn for a couple of hours in sugar and salt water and then over low heat and under the hood, steam roasted them in their husks. The husks pulled back into handles, the silk threads wiped away, the corn was brushed with garlic butter and torched for about five seconds to brown up the berries. Delicious.
Notes: Propane Torch with Push Button Igniter from Harbor Freight: Piezo electric ignition for safe, easy starts without matches and wand comes with a flow valve and turbo-blast trigger | These photos were taken with my 3G iPhone, not great but good enough for blogging.
*Braai is South African for a barbeque and the tong master is …