Salting Steaks

There are different recommendations on the technique of salting a steak before cooking. This review assumes one will only use salt and pepper as their seasoning for the steak. If one wishes to add other rubs, check the salt content and adjust the pre-cook salting amount to compensate for the additional salt in the rub. If just adding herbs or salt-free seasonings, the adjustment isn’t necessary.

Why salt?
The most obvious answer is for flavor and salting immediately prior to grilling will accomplish that easily. It is well known that brining meats (pork and chicken immediately come to mind) in a salty solution will increase the moisture in the final product. The same principle works with salting a steak. Research by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (author of “The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science Today”) in the blog “Serious Eats” shows that either immediate salting or salting, then resting for >40 min. are the best techniques (actually overnight, uncovered in the fridge was optimum). Reference:

Quoting from the blog:
“Here’s what’s going on.

  • Immediately after salting the salt rests on the surface of the meat, undissolved. All the steak’s juices are still inside the muscle fibers. Searing at this stage results in a clean, hard sear.
  • Within 3 or 4 minutes the salt, through the process of osmosis, will begin to draw out liquid from the beef. This liquid beads up on the surface of the meat. Try to sear at this point and you waste valuable heat energy simply evaporating this large amount of pooled liquid. Your pan temperature drops, your sear is not as hard, and crust development and flavor-building Maillard browning reactions are inhibited.
  • Starting at around 10 to 15 minutes, the brine formed by the salt dissolving in the meat’s juices will begin to break down the muscle structure of the beef, causing it to become much more absorptive. The brine begins to slowly work its way back into the meat.
  • By the end of 40 minutes, most of the liquid has been reabsorbed into the meat. A small degree of evaporation has also occurred, causing the meat to be ever so slightly more concentrated in flavor”.

My experiment: I started with a 1.25# choice ribeye. I heavily salted it with Kosher salt.


I then vacuum-sealed it and placed it in the fridge for 2 hours. When preparing for cooking, I submerged the bag in a sink of hot (110*) water for about 45 minutes (hot-tubbing). When I removed it for seasoning with Cluck & Squeal Beef Specific rub, I checked and found it had an internal temp of 92*. (Note: This is where I warned about too much salt – I learned from my mistake).


Large BGE at 300-325* dome, but my Grill Grates temped at 500* with an IR thermometer. I seared about 90 sec on each side, then using tongs and a mitt, I seared all the edges of the steak on the ridges of the Grill Grates.


I removed when the internal temperature was 125*, divided and served with sautéed spinach and mushrooms plus a green salad.


Results:  Other than being slightly more salty than I prefer (not compensating for the salt in the rub), I could clearly taste a rich flavor deep inside the very juicy meat, not just on the surface. This will become my steak-cooking technique for the future.

Misippi Egger
(Clark Ethridge)


Serves 2

1.25# ribeye steak
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Steak rub (Optional)

(1) Heavily coat both sides of the steak with Kosher salt (reduce amount if planning to use a rub that contains salt).

(2) Place in refrigerator for a minimum of 40 minutes and up to overnight (it will not dry out if left uncovered). If plan to grill immediately after salting, also add freshly ground black pepper and/or any steak rub.

(3) Rest at room temperature for an hour or can hot-tub in a bag in hot water prior to grilling.

(4) Use your favorite steak grilling technique and cook to your preferred doneness. Enjoy a much juicier, flavorful steak!

Sous Vide Burgers

I had read about the advantages of cooking burgers using the sous vide technique and have been looking for an opportunity to try it. Recently we had some of the kids & grandsons over for some fishing and dinner, so I decided it would be an excellent chance!

Why sous vide?
It’s so easy to just throw some burgers on the grill, give them a couple of flips and serve them up! Well, how many times have you undercooked or worse, overcooked them ending up with dry, chewy or crumbly burgers? The grill temp can vary from one cook to the next and certainly from one area of the grill surface to another, giving inconsistent results. How about juicy, perfectly cooked burgers with pink insides? Yes, pink ‘store-bought’ hamburger meat, but safe from any bacterial contamination. Sous vide is the route to these results.

How Sous Vide works:
(1) Sous vide (French for under vacuum) is a method of cooking protein or vegetables in vacuum-sealed bags in a temperature-controlled water bath. This method is used in many high-end steak restaurants for rapid cooking of perfectly cooked steaks – remove it from the water bath (maybe 125-130*), sear it briefly on the grill and serve it to the customer.

(2) Restaurant quality sous vide machines can be purchased for home use (though they are expensive and take up a good bit of counter space). There are a few smaller precision immersion sous vide products on the market that are more convenient and less costly. I have the original Anova model (they now make Bluetooth and WiFi-compatible versions). Sansaire makes a similar product and there is a WiFi-only product called Joule. These all clamp to the side of a large pot or plastic tub and work on the principle of an immersion heater with tightly-controlled temperature and a fan to circulate the water, ensuring even temperature throughout the water bath.

(3) Food safety: Pasteurization of meat (reduction of the harmful bacteria in the meat) is based on a combination of internal temperature PLUS the length of time it is maintained at that temperature. For example, from FDA pasteurization charts hamburger meat is safe if cooked at 135* for 27.33 min., while it only takes 5.19 sec. at 160* internal temp. The beauty of sous vide is the ability to maintain an accurate water bath temperature for extended period of time, thus allowing one to pasteurize meat at a lower temperature, which when combined with a finishing sear, produces juicy, tender results that would be difficult to obtain otherwise.

Sous Vide Burgers:
For the burgers, I purchased a 4# pack of ground chuck (80/20) from Sam’s Club. I formed the meat into eight 8 oz. balls, then shaped these into seven, thick 4” wide patties & two 4 oz. child patties. I pressed a dimple in the middle of each patty to help them keep their shape while on the grill, then generously seasoned them with Cluck & Squeal Beef Specific rub. I carefully placed four patties each into gallon freezer ziplock bags, compressed the air out by immersing in a sink full of water, and placed them in the sous vide water bath which was at 133*. I placed serving spoons between the bags to keep them weighted and separated for better water circulation.


After 60-70 minutes I removed the bags and let them cool to room temperature (to help maintain their shape when grilling) while preparing the grill. In the following picture, they are patiently waiting for the grill:

I prepared my large Big Green Egg (BGE) for a direct cook at 350-400* with the grid at the fire ring level and Grill Grates on the grid. At a dome temp of 400*, the Grill Grates measured 500* on an infared (IR) thermometer. I seared the burgers for about 90 sec. on one side, flipped and seared another 90 sec. on the other side.

Love my Grill Grates!

I then flipped once more and added bleu cheese. At this point I closed the bottom vent and let the ambient heat soften the cheese.


After a minute or so, I topped them with previously sautéed mushrooms, allowing them to warm for another 30-45 sec., then removed from the grill.


(I apologize for forgetting to take a picture of a cut burger, because the inside was juicy and pink throughout)!

Guests made burgers or ate like hamburger steaks.  I heard a comment: “This is the best burger ever“!

Misippi Egger
(Clark Ethridge)


Serves 8

4 lbs ground chuck 
Favorite hamburger seasoning
Fresh bleu cheese (or other cheese)
Optional – sautéed mushrooms, peppers, etc.

(1) Prepare the sous vide water bath per the instructions with the sous vide immersion heater and set the temperature for 133*F.
(2) Form meat into 8 oz. balls, then shape into 1″ thick patties and make dimples in the center of one side. Season well on both sides.
(3) Carefully place the patties in gallon ziplock bags (4 per bag) and immerse in water, squeezing the air out before sealing. Place the bags in the sous vide water bath, separating them with a utensil, if needed to allow for good water flow around the bags. Set the timer for 60 minutes or up to 90 minutes.
(4) When the meat is done, remove the bags from the water bath and rest on the counter to let them approach room temperature while you are preparing the grill.
(5) Prepare the BGE (or other grill) for a direct cook at 400* or so. Grill the burgers for 45-90 sec. on each side, then make one last flip before adding the cheese. Close down the vents to let the ambient heat soften the cheese, then add any mushrooms, onions, peppers, etc. on top. 
(6) Remove from the grill and serve immediately (a rest is not necessary when using the sous vide method).

Smoked/Grilled Chicken Thighs

Tonight we had some large skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs that needed cooking. Naturally, the BGE gets the call! I wanted a decent smoke flavor and a seasoning with some depth.

I lightly coated them with some olive oil, then seasoned both sides with Mike’s All Purpose Seasoning (Spicy Recipe). I purchased this a while back from a vendor at the Livingston Farmers’ Market, yet I had only used it a time or two. (Website for Mike’s – ).

Egg set-up: In the past I have used both indirect & direct cooks for chicken. The indirect cook allows using a high temp, but it is difficult to get a crispy skin (elevated, indirect helps). With a hot, direct cook, one gets crispy skin, but at the risk of flare-ups that often give black, charred skin instead. The set-up from my pork chop cook yesterday gave me an idea for a new technique. Two Grill Grate panels were resting on the lower level of my Adjustable Rig (AR), about 4-5 inches below the top of the AR, on which the BGE grid was positioned. I thought this would give a pseudo, or false indirect cook since the Grill Grates would block most of the direct heat from the lump (they have multiple holes in them to let drippings fall through without flaring up), but they would emit considerable heat for cooking the thighs from underneath.

Adjustable Rig with Grill Grates on the lowest level and the BGE grid on top . (Buy Grill Grates on Amazon – Grill Grates  ).

On the way home from work I heard an ad for a great BBQ restaurant saying they cook with a combination of hickory and pecan. I thought – why not?  After I got a clean, 350* fire burning, I added 2 small chunks of hickory and 2 handfuls of pecan chips (all dry). After the heavy white, acrid smoke burned off, I placed the thighs, skin up, on the grid. I was amazed at the great color on them with the first check, when I was inserting a Maverick E-732 wireless, continuous-read thermometer. (Buy at Amazon – Maverick E-732 ).


When the internal temp reached about 145-150*, I removed the thighs and the grid. I then seared them on the Grill Grates for 2 minutes on each side. Final temp was 165-180*, depending on the size of the thigh.


They were juicy, had a great smoke flavor, and the Mike’s Seasoning really worked well. It met Jana’s approval and was served with black rice, pan-roasted broccoli florets, a salad and Asian dipping sauce.


Misippi Egger
(Clark Ethridge)


Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Olive Oil
Favorite rub or herbal seasoning

(1) Lightly coat both sides of the thighs with olive oil, then generously apply the rub or seasoning of choice.
(2) Prepare a fire at 350-400* and add hickory and pecan chunks or chips. When heavy white smoke clears one can begin the cook.
(3) Indirect technique – works better if one can create an elevated cooking surface, as the heat coming from the ceramic dome will help cook the chicken faster and crisp up the skin. With indirect, I will sometimes get the dome temp closer to 500*.
(4) Direct technique – build a smaller fire (less lump) and try to elevate the grid as far from the lump as possible. This will allow a hotter fire (400-500*), but less flare-ups since the distance to the lump is increased. Turn thighs frequently to prevent excessive charring of the skin.
(5) Combo technique – begin cook indirect and then use a direct sear when the internal temp reaches about 150*.

Grilled Cajun Cobia (lemon fish)

I recently acquired some fresh cobia (also known as lemon fish) from my local fish monger (Duggan’s Fish Truck). Having never grilled cobia, I obtained this recipe from the owner, John Lester.

Cobia has a firm, white flesh and since the filets are rather thick it tolerates the direct heat from the grill without drying out.

I got the large BGE to about 350-400* dome temperature with inverted Grill Grates elevated on an adjustable rig, creating a griddle-like surface (to read about or purchase on Amazon, click on the link: Grill Grates ).

I coated the fish on both sides with olive oil, then applied a light coating of Cavender’s Greek Seasoning, followed by a light coating of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. Then I finished with a layer of Smoked Paprika.

I generously swabbed the Grill Grates with a rag soaked in vegetable oil, then placed the fish on the griddle. I flipped it every 2 minutes until the internal temp registered about 120*.
IMG_2922 IMG_2923






The total cook time was about 8-9 minutes. I rested it for about 5 minutes before plating with Janeva’s Asian green beans and a green salad with home-grown gold and red cherry tomatoes.


Note: I was a little too generous with the Cavender’s and Tony’s, so the fish came out looking great, but tasting definitely too salty. I strongly recommend being very careful with those 2 seasonings since they both have a good deal of salt.


Misippi Egger
(Clark Ethridge)


Serves 2

1# fresh cobia (lemon fish) filet(s), preferably 1.5-2 in thick
Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning
Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
Olive oil
Smoked paprika (regular is ok)

(1) Prepare grill for an elevated, direct cook at 350-400* dome temp. Use a griddle, inverted Grill Grates, a vegetable grate or even a cast iron skillet.
(2) Coat fish on all sides with olive oil, then lightly sprinkle both sides with the Cavender’s, the Tony’s and the smoked paprika.
(3) Generously swab the cooking surface with a rag or paper towel soaked in vegetable oil before adding the filet(s). Using a spatula, flip the fish after 2 minutes. Continue to flip every 2 minutes to prevent too much char on either side.
(4) Remove from the grill when the internal temp reads about 120*. Total cook time for a filet 1.5-2 inches thick will be about 8 minutes.
(5) Cover and rest about 5 minutes to let the juices redistribute, then serve.

Kodiak River Salmon


There are many ways to grill salmon. Once I developed this recipe/technique, Jana won’t allow me to experiment with any other recipes. This is her favorite and she says “It is perfect. Don’t change it”.

I realize many of you like marinated and/or glazed salmon, cedar-planked salmon, BBQ salmon, etc., and those are all good, but this will be about our “go to” salmon recipe – Kodiak River Salmon. (Note: I will blog about smoked salmon (cold and hot) on another day).

First and foremost, you need a nice, fresh piece of salmon. If it ‘smells’, it’s probably not fresh! I buy my salmon from Duggan’s Seafood in Jackson (truck parked every Thursday and Friday in the DeVille Plaza parking lot, near CVS building). This salmon comes from the cold, Nova Scotia area and is raised in huge, offshore deep-water farms. We prefer skin-on filets – the skin protects the filets from overcooking and the crispy skin is a treat!

Note: If you purchase a whole filet, you should cut the thin belly piece off so it doesn’t over cook, giving you a nice, evenly thick center piece. We save those belly pieces (called Toro) and cook them for appetizers – they are delicious!

This is a 1 pound center-cut filet piece drizzled with a small amount of olive oil and liberally seasoned with Big Green Egg “Kodiak River” seasoning. This seasoning can be purchased at Madison Fireplace & Patio in Madison, MS or at your local egg dealer. The pieces of Toro have a light coating of Kodiak River.

Salmon filet and pieces of Toro seasoned
Salmon filet and pieces of Toro seasoned

We had torrential rains all day (the lake is coming over our seawall and pier) and since my Mini Egg is under the porch, it got the nomination tonight. I prepared it for a direct cook at 400-450* dome temp.

I carefully scraped the hot grid clean and to further protect the fish from sticking, I swabbed the grid with a small rag soaked in vegetable oil.

I placed the filet and the pieces of Toro flesh down on the oiled grid, then closed the dome for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes.


I used a spatula to flip all the pieces, putting the skin down on the grid. (The spatula works better on the tender salmon filet because it will fall apart when using tongs — trust me)!

After about another minute, I removed the Toro pieces and we ‘dug in’ to these very tasty (high fat content) appetizers.

When the filet reached 120-130* internal temperature, I removed it from the grill. I always try to let it rest, covered for a few minutes, but that doesn’t always happen!

I divided this filet lengthwise into 2 servings and plated with roasted bacon & brussel sprouts and roasted chayote squash.

This technique is great for a quick weeknight meal. The salmon has a nice crust from the rub and the flesh-down sear, but it is flaky and juicy inside.

Try it – it might become your only salmon recipe also!

Addendum:  Weeknight cook: 1# salmon filet plus an appetizer piece of Toro from Duggan’s fish truck. Kodiak River rub plus a light dusting of sea salt. 450* on Grill Grates -( Buy at Amazon  ):
Kodiak River SalmonDone at 120* internal temp. Plated over pan-roasted Brussel sprouts, mushrooms and bacon:


(Misippi Egger)

Serves 2                   Prep and cook time: 30 min.

1 lb fresh salmon filet, skin on
Olive oil
Big Green Egg Kodiak River rub

Prepare Egg for a 400-450* direct cook
Clean salmon filet, trim off (and save) thin belly piece to get a filet of even thickness. Drizzle a light coating of olive oil and spread it around (to hold the rub better). Liberally coat the filet with the rub and allow it to ‘melt’ onto the filet for 10-15 minutes.
Clean the hot grid carefully and swab with a rag or paper towel soaked in vegetable oil. Lay the filet and any Toro pieces on the grid – skin down.
After 2-2.5 minutes, using a spatula, flip the filet and Toro so the skin side is on the grid.
Remove any Toro pieces after another minute and continue to let the filet cook until it reaches 120-130* internal temp.
Cover and rest for 5-8 minutes, then serve.

Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus


It’s hard to beat a sunny, spring-like Sunday afternoon with a couple of the grand-boys and family visiting for lunch, boat riding and fishing!  I needed a couple of quick, easy vegetable sides to go with a crock pot roast. I made cabbage boats (click on the link to see recipe) and while they rested, I threw prosciutto-wrapped asparagus on the Grill Grates (available at Amazon – Grill Grates) for a few minutes.


Preparing the asparagus is easy. It can even be wrapped the day before, then seasoned and grilled in only a few minutes. Guests will rave about them!

After you have snapped and washed the asparagus spears, carefully spiral a slice of prosciutto (they will tear easily) around each thick spear. If your spears are very thin, group 2-4 together and wrap with a slice of the meat. Once they are all wrapped, and in a dish (9×13 works well), liberally drizzle them with olive oil and roll them around to coat evenly. The prosciutto is fairly salty, so chose a seasoning with minimal salt and use sparingly. We like Dizzy Pig’s Swamp Venom (a cajun-style seasoning) and really just apply to one side of the spears.

They are grilled direct on a grid (or on Grill Grates) or in a veggie grill pan. All you want to do is firm-up the prosciutto on all sides for a few minutes. Place back in the dish and cover until ready to serve.


Serves 4-6

1 bunch of asparagus (about 36 thick spears)
Prosciutto (enough for all spears)
Olive oil
Cajun seasoning (minimal salt)

(1) Snap the spears, wash and dry. 
(2) Separate the prosciutto slices and carefully spiral wrap a slice around each spear, or around 2-4 spears if they are thin.
(3) Place the wrapped spears in a wide dish and liberally drizzle with olive oil, rolling the spears around to thoroughly coat them with the oil. They can be prepared the day before, covered and kept in the refrigerator until ready to season and grill.
(4) Sparingly apply the cajun seasoning (I only season one side).
(5) Grill direct at 400*, turning frequently to prevent burning. You only need to char a little – to let the prosciutto firm up.
(6) Cover until ready to serve.

Misippi Egger

Butter-crusted Sea Bass


I learned to cook sea bass in a convection oven from my friends and colleagues Mike West and Steve Stephenson – simple preparation at 425* for 22 minutes (thick filet). It’s a great recipe, but of course I just had to try it on my Egg.

I patted the filets dry, then brushed lightly with melted butter and seasoned with salt and pepper.

I set up my BGE for an indirect cook at 450-500*. I inverted my Grill Grates (available at Madison Fireplace & Patio and many local dealers or at Amazon – Grill Grates), creating a flat, griddle-like surface. I sprayed the griddle with Pam and put the filets on (there was a huge flare-up from the Pam dripping onto the indirect piece, but I snuffed it out by briefly closing the dome with the rain cap on top).

After about 6 minutes, I flipped them to prevent burning, and they were done in a total of about 10-12 minutes.

The sea bass filets were plated with roasted broccoli from my garden and saute’ed garlic spinach plus a nice glass of merlot. The fish had a great crust (which the oven recipe doesn’t produce) and a juicy, flaky center. I will definitely be cooking it this way in our future!

Addendum (5/19/16): Slight change in recipe tonight: Added a light sprinkling of lemon pepper and granulated garlic to one side of each filet. Swabbed Grill Grates with vegetable oil and cooked at BGE dome temp of 400*). Pic below:
Sea Bass 5:16
Serves 2

2 fresh sea bass filets, about 2 inches thick
1/4 stick butter, melted
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
High-temp, nonstick spray product

(1) Prepare the Egg for a 450-500* elevated, indirect cook. Invert Grill Grates (or use some other griddle-like accessory) and place on the grid. 
(2) Pat the filets dry and lightly brush both sides with the melted butter. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
(3) Spray the surface with a high-temp, non-stick product (be careful of flare-ups).
(4) Place the filets on the surface and flip after about 6 minutes. They should be ready in another 5-6 minutes (one can check the internal temp with an instant-read thermometer if desired).
(5) Rest under foil for 5-8 minutes before serving.