There are multiple ways to cook an excellent steak on the grill. In today’s post I will describe one of my favorite, simple ways to produce a perfectly cooked steak using a technique called “hot-tubbing” combined with a quick, hot sear.
‘Hot tubbing’ is a po’ man’s version of Sous Vide, which is a recently popular home cooking method. Sous vide is French for ‘under vacuum’ and it involves placing vacuum-sealed foods (meat, chicken, fruit, vegetable, etc) in a temperature-controlled water bath for an extended period of time, then finishing the food on a grill, a griddle or a skillet. I will have more information in a subsequent post on the advantages and disadvantages of sous vide cooking.
Back to hot-tubbing….. Before I ever heard of sous vide, I saw many people on the BGE forum preheating their steaks in a water bath, then searing on the BGE. The principle being that you basically ‘cook’ the steak through and through during the water bath period, then only sear it at the end. The final result is a steak that is the same doneness from edge to edge – not one that is well done on the outside 1/4″ or so, then medium well, then medium rare in the middle. A hot-tubbed (or SV) steak is medium rare (or your choice of doneness) from the outside sear on one side to the sear on the opposite side.
The first step is to vacuum seal the steak. Many people have vacuum seal units like Food Saver, Game Saver, etc. they use for freezing steaks bought in quantity or cut from larger (sub primal) cuts like whole ribeye, tenderloin, or sirloin. In that case the steak is already in a vacuum bag, so it only needs to be thawed in the bag before hot tubbing. With a fresh steak, one can either use their vacuum sealer to bag it, or use a zip lock-style bag. With the zip lock bag, one seals all but about a 1/2″ corner, then submerges the bag into water, forcing the air to the top and quickly closes the bag before it goes completely under the water. The water pressure will collapse the bag around the steak and create an almost perfect vacuum bag. One can season the steak before it goes in the bag, or it can be seasoned after it comes out of the water bath prior to searing. If the bag tends to float, a small saucer on top of it will hold it under water.
The following pictures are from an 8-week, wet-aged ribeye steak I recently hot tubbed and seared on my Mini Egg.
My hot tap water is about 110*, so I usually mix it to get around 100* in my sink. The steak stays in the water bath for 45-60 minutes. In the meantime, I get the grill ready for a direct cook at 500-600*. I remove the steak from the bag (it usually measures 86-95* internal), season, then sear it for 2 minutes on each side. If it is not to my desired internal temperature, I will cook longer, flipping if one side starts to get too done. I might even close the top and bottom vents on the EGG and let it continue to cook until the desired doneness is reached. Hot-tubbed and sous vide steaks do not require a post-cook rest period and can be served immediately from the grill.
1-1.25 pound steak (ribeye, sirloin, flat iron, etc)
Steak seasoning of choice
(1) If using a previously vacuum-sealed steak (thaw if frozen), place the bagged steak in a hot water bath (about 105*) for 45-60 minutes. If using a fresh steak, apply the seasonings, then either vacuum seal or evacuate the air in a zip lock bag by submerging under water, forcing out the air before sealing. Place in the water bath like above.
(2) Prepare grill for a direct, hot cook (500-600*).
(3) Remove the steak from the bag, season if needed, and then place it on a hot grill for 2 minutes per side. If not quite done to your preference, leave it on until done, flipping a time or two to prevent burning, or shut down the grill (close the top and bottom vents) until it’s done.
(4) The steak can also be seared on a griddle (grill or stove) or in a heavy skillet if desired.
(5) You can serve immediately, or cover and rest until ready to serve.