Dirty Steak (caveman or cowboy steak)

Dirty Steak (caveman or cowboy steak)

Dirty cooking?  Cooking the food you are about to eat directly onto the burning charcoal. It gets a whole series of names too: Dirty, Caveman, Cowboy. I have to say I have always been rather sceptical about the idea of this form of cooking.   Perhaps just an unnecessary gimmick, and as such I have to say I had not really embraced the idea, especially since the advent of the EGGspander system and other devices to hold a grill just above the surface of the coals as in Adams blog on the “Clean Caveman Steak”.  But at some point you do need to succumb and try these things yourself.  I was prodded to do this after reading a ThermoWorks blog post which I would definitely recommend.  We always talk about cooking steak on a very hot cast iron surface. These high temperatures speed up the Maillard reaction that give grilled meat its great taste.  The high temperature speeds the evaporation of water and with it the concentration of sugars and proteins.  This in turn speeds up the Maillard reaction.  But cast iron surfaces will never be as hot as the 650C+ on the surface of red hot charcoal ……….. at least when the steak initially touches them!

So what do you need to do?  It is really very simple!  For a 2cm thick steak, bring the meat to room temperature and allow the surface to dry.  Light the EGG and allow the charcoal to heat up to the point where the coals are red in an area larger than the steak you want to cook.  Place the steak directly on the red hot charcoal.

After around 2.5 mins turn the steak (ideally onto another red hot area) and leave for another 2.5 mins. These timings are for a 2cm thick steak, thicker ones will take longer.  Check the core temperature with an instant reading thermometer like the Thermopen.  We would normally take the steak off  about 3-4C before it reached the temperature we wanted to serve it at as the core temperature continues to rise as the steak rests.  As the outer surface gets so hot with direct contact with the charcoal, I would pull the steak earlier.  I would suggest as much as 6-8C below the final temperature you are looking for.  If you are looking for a medium steak with a final temperature of 57C I would remove it from the fire at around 49-50C.  All that is left to do is add a little Rosemary baste and wrap in foil and rest for at least 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, slice the steak across the grain and serve it with your favourite accompaniments!



………………………………..do try it at least once, I am glad we did!!


Dirty Steak (Caveman or Cowboy)

June 17, 2019
: 2
: 15 min
: 5 min
: 20 min
: Easy

Steak cooked directly on red hot charcoal and basted with a seasoned rosemary oil baste


  • 500gm Rump steak 2cm thick
  • For the baste
  • Tbsp rosemary
  • 2Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 0.5tsp maldon salt
  • 0.5tsp ground black pepper
  • Step 1 Allow the steak to come to room temperature for 2 hours, dry surface if necessary. Finely chop the rosemary and mix the ingredients for the baste
  • Step 2 Light the EGG and wait till charcoal is red in an area larger than the steak.
  • Step 3 Place the steak directly on the red hot charcoal. After around 2.5 mins turn the steak and leave for another 2.5 mins. Check the core temperature Remove steak when core temp reaches 49-50C for a medium finish at 57C.  
  • Step 4 Smear the surface with the rosemary baste and wrap in foil. Leave to rest for at least 10 mins.
  • Step 5 Slice across the grain and serve




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