"Double Fisting" with a Traeger Timberline 850 and Alfresco ALXE42 Grill
Who says you can’t smoke steak?
While smoking is generally reserved for chicken , pork seafood and select cuts of beef like brisket or short ribs, I take a contrarian viewpoint: all steak deserves to be smoked!
While I appreciate the violent yet beautiful transformation that beef undergoes on a searing hot grill, why not prep said beef with a nice dose of smoke beforehand?
I started doing this after reading Steve Raichlen’s book “Project Smoke” where he stated that even though smoking is traditionally reserved for brisket, there are plenty of applications when used with beef tenderloin, tri tip, strip steaks etc. I started using it on tri tip steaks with the reverse sear method of grilling. Soon, I was smoking prime rib as well as NY strips.
Now, every piece of steak I lay my hands on gets a healthy smoke followed by a trip to a searing hot grill.
Tonight I brought home a skirt steak as well as “steak pinwheels” which are flank steaks rolled up and stuffed with provolone cheese, breadcrumbs and parsley. The skirt steak was given a quick marinade bath in soy sauce and scallions, the steak pinwheels were ready to throw right on the grill.
What I decided to do was “double-fist”, or, use a combination of two of my grills for this cook. First I would smoke the steaks at 250 for 10-15 mins on the Traeger Timberline 850. I used a combination of hickory and alder pellets and placed all the steak at the lower-most rack on the Traeger. Since I wanted to maximize the smoke for this relatively short cook, I used a feature on the Traeger called “Super Smoke” which allows extra smoke at lower temperatures (you must be under 250 to enable Super Smoke) . This will enhance flavor at early portions of cooks and some Traeger Timberline reviews have noted that it not only adds flavor but improves the bark on briskets and pulled pork.
While the Traeger was smoking away, I dusted off my Alfresco ALXE42SZ grill (which I had not used in months) and fired up all the burners including the infrared “Hellfire” sear burner.
I wanted to create a molten, white hot searing environment to drop those smoked steaks on for a reverse sear to finish them off. After nearly 10 minutes the Alfresco hood temp gauge was registering over 800 degrees which meant that the grate level was probably around 1100-1200F.
I took the skirt steak and pinwheels off the Traeger and laid them onto the Alfresco and was greeted with sizzling smoke and fire. The smell was intoxicating and the sizzle meant that the sear was developing fast. After 30 seconds I took the skirt steak off the main burner and placed it on the Hellfire sear and with nary a flareup it took that marinaded fatty piece of steak and laid on beautiful hatch marks. After about 2-3 minutes I removed all steak and brought inside the kitchen to rest for 5 minutes so the meat could relax and redistribute juices.
I’m happy to say that this was one of the best skirt steaks I’ve ever cooked. The wood smoke flavor was subtle (which is what I wanted because my wife can’t stand over-smoked food), the marinate provided a salty yet sweet dimension and the beef flavor coupled with the char from the sear was amazing. I also achieved a beautiful edge to edge pink med rare, something that is very difficult to attain on skirt steak which has a propensity to overcook due to its thinness.
So Double-Fisting is now my go-to method for cooking steak. You cannot beat that hint of smoke combined with the blazing sear/char. Anyone who sticks to the traditional mindset that “steak should not be smoked” needs to open their minds and their mouths and taste this. There’s no going back!