In Search of Char

I love a good crusty char on my meat.  Most people don’t realize that the majority of the flavor on a steak comes from the exterior.  Sure having a high quality cut of meat goes a long way but I good steak will only be as good as it’s sear.

Most customers never believe me.  But as a butcher I always tell people that the best steak in the case is the brown one.  It’s true, if you allow a steak to sit open in a refrigerator the excess moisture evaporates from the surface.  The water that has now evaporated would have boiled first before letting the steak brown and crisp.  If the outside of the steak has been given a chance to dry, it will sear instantaneously giving you a beautiful crust.

There are many ways to increase the charring potential of a piece of meat.  These beef cheeks were first rubbed with a combination of porcini powder and salt to absorb excess moisture from the meat.  They were then smoked at 150º for four hours to gently warm the meat and further evaporate moisture from the surface. The next step was searing for 40 seconds on a lightly smoking cast iron pan with grape seed oil.  Their next stop will be in a bag with a few sprigs thyme and a clove of garlic dropped into an immersion circulator parked at 62º Celsius for 72 hours, until the beef cheeks are smoky, tender and juicy.

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