Scotch Steak in the Coals with Stilton Butter
My friend Andrew Brubaker first raved to me years ago about this method of cooking steaks. He told me it was the best steak he had ever had, so I had to try it. At first, I didn't think putting meat directly onto hot coals would work; and in the first testing, it didn't. My mistake was using charcoal briquettes, which have too fine an ash. The ashes stuck to the steak and made it taste like soot. But when I made the steak with lump charcoal and again with a wood fire, it worked beautifully. The steak chars quickly on the clean coals, developing a crisp crust, and there is no residual ash to speak of. The trick is to blow the ash off the coals before adding the steak. For this, you'll need a leaf blower, a hair dryer, a portable fan, or a magazine and a strong arm. It also helps to start with a relatively ash-free grill.
Wood: Direct heat--red hot
- Charcoal: Direct heat--red hot
- 12-by-12-inch lump charcoal bed (2 to 3 dozen pieces of lump charcoal, not briquettes)
- No grill grate
Ingredients (4 servings)
- 12-by-12-inch bed, 4 inches deep
- No grill grate
- 4 boneless strip steaks, preferably Angus, each 10 to 12 ounces and about 1 inch thick
- 1/2 cup Scotch
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 ounces Stilton or other blue cheese, crumbled
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened
- Trim the fat on the steaks to about 1/4 inch. Put the steaks and Scotch in a large freezer-weight zipper-lock bag, seal, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours, turning occasionally.
- Remove the steaks from the Scotch and pat dry. Sprinkle the salt and pepper all over the steaks, patting it in with your fingers. Let the meat warm up as you heat the grill.
- Heat the grill as directed above. Leave the grill grate off the grill so that the coals are accessible. Spread the coals to create a somewhat flat bed in the center where you will put the steaks. Blow the ashes off the coals with a leaf blower or hair dryer.
- Grill the steaks directly on the flat bed of coals until nicely crusted, 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare to medium-done (135º to 140ºF). Remove to plates or a platter with tongs and pick off any loose ash. Let the meat rest off the heat, loosely covered with foil, for 5 minutes.
- Mix together the cheese and butter. Melt about a tablespoon of the Stilton butter over each steak.
- Use a smoky-tasting Scotch like Laphraoig to enhance the smoke flavor in the steak.
- Make the Stilton butter ahead of time and refrigerate it for up to 1 week.