For years, I felt pressure during the holidays when I was charged with grilling large (and expensive) cuts of meat. How long would it take? How will I avoid under cooking or over cooking it? What if the meat is finished early? Or worse if I keep everyone waiting for the meat to be done? Now as the holidays approach I am confident and look forward to grilling those fine roasts. The secret is the sum of two parts: the right technology and the right technique.
The first key to proper holiday grilling is a good digital instant read thermometer. Quality meat thermometers instantly display the internal meat temperature. Using them to measure temperature progress helps reach the target temperature without under cooking or over cooking. The peace of mind is worth the investment. Digital instant read thermometers generally range from $20 to $85.
The second step for holiday grilling is in the technique of the reverse sear.The reverse sear allows you to control the timing of the cook, and includes a rest period that can last a few minutes or a few hours, depending on your timing needs. The reverse sear (also known as Sear in the Rear) consists of three parts:
- Off grill rest period: Once the meat reaches its target, it can sit off the grill for up to 2 hours. The meat will not rise in temperature more than 5 degrees, and the you can relax and prepare other side dishes as the meat rests.
- Hot sear to finish: When you are ready, sear the meat at a very high temperature before serving. Searing the meat at the end of the cook browns and caramelizes the exterior of the roast while finishing to a perfect internal temperature.
Tips for preparation of the meat: Olive oil and rubs are superior to elaborate marinades and pastes, as the host will be handling the roast more and heavier crusts won’t stand up. Some cuts, like lamb, are best tied with butcher’s twine. The more rounded and uniform the cut, the more consistent the cook.
Tips for grill setup: Two-zone grilling is another great technique for holiday grilling. If you have two grills this is a good time to use them both – one for low roasting and the other for the hot sear. The hot grill can grill sides during the slow roast, and then get turned up for the hot sear. Gas grills and charcoals grills can also indirectly cook meat at low temperatures, and then the heat can be applied when it’s time to finish.
- Roasting grill temps: 225° - 250° F
- Sear Grill temps: 550°-700° F
- Smaller cuts require approximately 30-45 minutes, while larger roasts can take 1 – 1.5 hours – but the most important aspect is the internal temperature, not the time of the cook.
Three Holiday Grilling Recipes Using The Reverse Sear Technique– prime rib, boneless leg of lamb, and rack of lamb.
- Slow Roasted then Seared Prime Rib. Not many other large cuts of meat can rival the grandeur of a beautifully cooked Prime Rib in the center of your table.
- Reverse Seared Rack of Lamb. Rack of lamb when cooked properly is one of the most succulent and flavorful things you will ever eat!
- Reverse Seared Boneless Leg of Lamb. In this recipe we remove the lamb from the netting, lay it out flat and divide it into two equally shaped and sized portions. The lamb is then seasoned and formed into two roasts.