MBQ&A: Smoked Steak?

MBQ&A: Smoked Steak?


Welcome back to MBQ&A, where the ManBQue crew answers the mysteries of your universe with science. And drinking. Want to get in on the action? Hit us with your questions on Facebook, Twitter, or through e-mail.

What’s the advantage of using cheap cuts for smoking? Has anyone tried to smoke a steak?

Tomax: First off, I am sure some knucklehead has tried to smoke a steak. In my opinion if you have a steak you’d be an idiot to try to smoke a steak. I would try to cook a steak in one of those stand-up toasters before I tried to smoke it. Steak is best cooked over high direct heat and smokers are neither of those. You want to use high direct heat to sear your meat and lock in the flavor. Indirect low heat cooking on a steak will just toughen it up and dry it out like beef jerky. Smoking is best (for red meat) with bigger cuts like brisket, beef ribs, pork shoulder and even whole cow.

Barbecue started with the cheapest cuts of meat. The less-than-prime choices were very fatty tough pieces of meat like brisket that didn’t seem to have many uses. Its all families could afford at the time. In pig you will find cuts like pork shoulder and even pork belly falling into that fatty undesirable (aka cheap) category. These are great for smoking. The reason being is when you smoke a large fatty cut over low heat for a long time it will really tenderize the meat and actually release a ton of flavor while absorbing the smoke flavor. Result is a flavor bomb. The most tender delicious meat of all.

JB Mays: Smoke and slow cooking are the tools you need to turn tough meat into a tender bite. Use those same tools on steak and you’ll end up with the meat equivalent of that silica packet that comes with new shoes. Wrong tools for the wrong job. It’s like using a pumice stone to wash your face.

Smoke flavors the food through its water-soluble condensates penetrating the meat, which also adds that nifty smoke ring that allows you to tell true barbecue from bullshit oven ribs. While the smoke – type of wood, degree of seasoning, chips or chunks – always gets the mystical guru treatment with barbecue types, it more or less comes down to temperature. The chemical process that breaks down fat, collagen, and connective tissue (all plentiful in cheap cuts) into tender, fatty bites of wonder largely stops working about an internal temperature not far past 220F.

Bottom line – treat your steak and your brisket right. Don’t try to cook one like the other.

Beer cocktails, yay or nay?

Death Toll Scholl: YAY! As I wrote in last month’s 2014 Beer Trends article I expect this trend to grow substantially this year. Do I see everyone making complex beer cocktails at home? No. I do think that home patios will have more radlers/shandys though. My favorite recipe is 1 part wheat beer (like Hacker-Pschorr) to 1 part Italian grapefruit soda mixed in a large glass. This can be tweaked to your liking of beer and soda flavors. Now I want summer to be here.

The Godfather: Why the fuck not? I’ve always taken a good Michelada over a bloody Mary while putting down too much bacon at brunch. We’ve all had those days where you feel like having a beer but you also wouldn’t mind a cocktail. With beer cocktails, you don’t have to choose because you’re getting the best of both worlds.

Plus, if you’re alone and order a beer with a cocktail there’s some unspoken bartender rule to ask why your woman left you as he places a bowl of pretzels in front of you because he expects you to stay a while, drink too much, cry a bit and ultimately leave a huge tip for because he’s been your sounding board the whole night and “totally understands what you’re going through.”

In your opinion, who is the most important figure in the history of metal?

Instagram: I’ve thought long and hard about this one, and I’ve arrived at an answer I’m good with. To me, the most influential legacy in the history of metal Is Dimebag Darrell.

Are we done guffawing? Allow me to explain.

In his all-too-short time Dimebag was with us, he crafted a wholly unique sound that while often imitated, has never successfully been duplicated. Pantera was a band of constant contradictions. They managed to be beautiful and emotionally resonant, and let that live side by side with savage brutality.

Throughout it all Dimebag presided, lending an honesty to the whole affair that their peers lacked. It wasn’t heavy because that’s what sounded cool, bro. It was simply what it needed to be. For a genre that thrives on one-upmanship, there was none for Pantera. They created this unmistakable sound and only competed with themselves.

On a larger scale, there is not one metal band since Pantera that was not been directly influenced by them. The reach of Dimebag is unfathomable. To try and even think of a metal musician who will reach that level…well, I can’t.

The Other Woman: I’ll give you two. Mr. Anthony Frank “Tony” Iommi / Black Sabbath Guitarist and Heavy Metal Architect: Blue Cheer might have been worlds first heaviest band, but Iommi laid down the groundwork for an incredible amount of music that’s come since. As a teenager, Iommi lost two of his fingertips in an industrial accident (he wears prosthetics while playing), and had to adapt accordingly. Ironically, what could otherwise have ended his career before it began led to the development of his distinct style that has inspired millions of guitar players and rock fans to date.

Mr. Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister / Chief Badass of Motörhead: More than Motörhead in the “pop culture” sense that in recent years has arguably overriden much of the band’s music (I suppose it’s easier to leech onto a band’s “cool factor” without having to dig too far into a decades-spanning catalog). From his early days holding down the bass in the mind-bending, space rock / proto-metal circus known as Hawkwind up through the latest Motörhead album, Aftershock (released last fall), the dude is a veritable master of thundering rhythms, unstoppable hooks, and killer speeds. In the face of his recent health struggles, we’re rooting for him 100%


Add yours
  1. 1

    Hey, add a shot of gin to that wheatbeer-grapefruit concoction, and now you’ve got a real cocktail. Add a slice of lime to fancy it up a bit. I’ma gonna be experimenting quite a bit this summer with beer/booze combinations…it’s easy to make a cocktail with classic ingredients (booze, sour, sweet, bitters), but will be much more invigorating to use brews in addition to the other ingredients.

  2. 2
    Salar Madadi

    Gotta disagree with you about smoking steaks. As a one-step smoke your steak low and slow until done, yes, you are right. But doing a reverse sear on a thick steak by smoking it at 225f until it hits 115f internal, then throwing it on a super hot grill to sear until done is a thing of beauty. You get some smoke flavour and you get a steak that’s done more evenly than just straight grilling.

    Only works with steaks that are 1.5″ and up, but I know you’re not cooking those little steaks anyway.

  3. 3
    JB Mays

    A quality steak doesn’t have much collagen and connective tissue to break down at low temperature, so the cumulative effect isn’t nearly as dramatic. Add to that the need to get a butcher to custom-cut 1.5″+ steaks, and it’s pretty clear that smoking is not the best application for a steak. It seems like the effect you’re describing could be achieved with a cold-smoking gun post-sear. Which isn’t to say we won’t give your way a shot. For science, you see.

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