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Playin' with fire - Weber 26 OTG - Cold Smoke & Sear: Ribeyes (Lotsa Q-View)

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hey All!


I got a new Weber a few weeks back...the BIG dog...well, 2nd in line to the Ranch Kettle...I can't justify the $1,300.00 for one of those (even with 1,100 sq in cooking area), and the 26.75" matches my wants and needs so much better. It's been everything I expected so far. I've char-grilled with direct heat using R/O lump & KB and did a little bit of hot smoke & sear (reverse-sear) with it using KB, but I hadn't made the time for a cold smoke/sear on it yet (or had the time to document any cooking on it)...soooooooo, tonight's the night.


I did season it with indirect heat in the baskets the first time firing it up, and checked the lid temp gauge vs pit probe temp in the center, and with indirect heat ranging from 200-450* on the lid my pit probe reading was about 85-90* lower, so I have a good baseline to go by for lid temp readings vs grate temp.


The 26 OTG comes with charcoal baskets (handy...I already had a spare set, and will use those for larger items requiring higher heat such as turkeys [4-way indirect fire]) and stainless cooking grate (major selling point for me). There's only the three of us at home now, so why did I want this huge beast with over 500 sq in of cooking area? Gatherings...I'm always cooking (if I'm not working) for birth-day parties, holidays, etc, usually transporting my Weber 18.5" OTG @ 240 sq in cooking area and/or my Smoke Vault 24" (with up to 4 grates @ up to 1,380 sq in grate area) to the site of these gatherings. I've fallen short on grill space a few times for obvious reasons. This 26.75" will be a nice addition to my portable arsenal, offering much more flexibility and capacity to my current set-ups...all that, and I really do love cooking over coals...the evenness of heat on the grate, the added flavors and aromas, the exceptional fire control with the Weber kettles...OK, 'nuff said, on to tonight's dinner...


Just into the thick, white smoke...just the way I like it for a short smoke...shooting for about 60 minutes smoke, then drop in a bed of hot coals for the finish...grill temp is under 100* with 49* ambient, dropping to 45* after 45 minutes of smoke, and 41* @ the 60 minute mark when I pulled the steaks and built up a hot fire for searing.


Steaks are in there, somewhere:




There they are...I think these were cut from the large end of the rib roast (5.5lbs for 3 1-1/4" thick boneless ribeyes), as the "money muscle" seemed small, and there was an apparent lack of heavier marbling, but nice steaks none-the-less...my choice would have been a lighter trimmed bone-in, though...these were cut fresh yesterday afternoon when I called my wife from work and told her I wanted to try a cold smoke & sear with the big kettle (translated as "play-time" with the new toy...LOL!!!):


Seasoned with garlic powder, salt and black pepper:


KB (partially lit, but heated well...should all be burning shortly) and a couple of smaller hickory chunks in the baskets...I nestled the hotter portions of briqs against and under the hickory to get the smoke rolling:





I had 6 briqs in each charcoal basket for the cold smoke...found it to be too much heat for my liking with full-open intake and lid vents (I wanted high-flow with the heavier smoke), as the lid temp climbed to almost 250* before I was ready for searing (~160* @ grate-level),  but I'll know better next time...2-3 briqs would have been sufficient....these big Weber kettles seem to hold their heat quite well, even with a small fire and wide-open vents.



Darkness was upon me when I commenced with searing...remains of the fire in the baskets after 1 hour, with smoke still coming nicely, just leaning more towards thin and blue under my headlamp:





I just set the chimney on the coal grate for a bit more stoking...cool to watch a fire grow in the dark:


And yes, that's a full-sized Weber chimney on that fire-grate, with the charcoal baskets still on the sides...gotta love a big fire-grate:


Hot coals spread out after pushing the baskets in towards the center to act as a fence for a nice deep coal-base (my 2nd pair of baskets could have been use for the front and back, as well)...about 2-1/2" deep fire for a quick sear:





The fire felt damn hot @ 5" over the grate...about 700* or more, so, it's time to finish this gig.The ribeyes just hit the grate after a few minutes to allow the fire to heat-up more and pre-heat the grate...no flash here, just an LED headlamp:


...and with the flash:



Still no juices polling on the surface after several minutes over the fire, so they weren't cooking through very much from the smoke stage, but with the grate temps reaching the point they did during the smoke I felt the need for a HOT fire for very quick searing, even with the thickness of these steaks...R/O lump would have been a better choice than briqs in this case, as it burns quite a bit hotter, but I didn't think about it until after starting some leftover briqs from my last grilled dinner and topping-off the chimney with fresh ones:



Wide open with both vents for 8-9 minutes on the bottom side (no flip during the smoke or sear until now) and about 5 minutes on the second side...closed lid for entire searing time except to flip...I didn't even peek...couldn't smell a grease fire, which is a rare thing with a closed Weber kettle anyway, so why look):



I closed all the vents on the kettle to kill the coals so I can reclaim them for the next time I'm cooking out on the patio. And, yes, this big kettle kills the fire just my little 18 OTG does...dead fire in less than 5 minutes, and a cold kettle in about 15-20 minutes.



About 10 minutes resting:





Plated with broccoli & cheese rice...simple and tasty meal:









I tried every camera angle imaginable and couldn't get the true color of the cross-section of this ribeye...this camera generally likes it's own flash, so...must be the color of the plate, being a transparent (glass) cobalt blue...I usually use a white plate...haven't posted my plates much lately, so, live and learn...(sigh)...anyway, came out medium, a bit over my liking of med-rare, but still loaded with juices, so...that said, I'm eating this steak!!!:





Smoke flavor and aroma was nice and light...not faint, not overwhelming...and of course the hickory was a great match as always with beef. Seasoning was very good as well, being simple and to the point...beef doesn't need much to taste good. I tossed on a good amount of pepper, which we like for beef.


Lessons learned:

(1) use only a couple briqs per side for heating the smoke wood, even in this cooler weather...I usually aim for 100-120* grate temp for my smoke & sear and it jumped that mark within 30 minutes;

(2) fire-up my kettles more often!!!


I'm thinking about turkeys for thanksgiving now (this will be another gathering of family and friends)...I was planning on firing up the Vault as I wanted to smoke carrots, celery, onion and garlic for the gravy, but, maybe I can fit it all in both of my kettles...definitely worth looking into this further. Good grief, the things a guy won't think of doing, huh? More on that when it happens...


Thanks for peekin' and remember to keep your smokers (and grills) warm and happy!!!


You can stick a fork in me now...I'm done...LOL!!!




post #2 of 6


Ribeye is my favorite! I have to say you nailed it. Med rare is more to my liking as well but it looks very tasty.

I have always said everyone should have a kettle.

Happy smoken.


post #3 of 6

That steak looks great.


Doneness is to my liking.





Thanks for the great post.

post #4 of 6

Looks delicious Eric...nicely done!  Nice new Weber ya got there too!  Thumbs Up



post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys.


It was a nice way to learn more about how this bigger kettle likes to run, and that I can still produce good eats the first time when testing methods on a new cooker. I did find out that those steaks were too big for me to eat, but the taste made it tempting to try...LOL!!! I have a few more methods I want to try with it in the near future, but I don't feel there's any major learning curve involved with it. It seems to run even better than my 18.5" OTG, and that sweet little kettle is a dream to cook on. I decided today that my turkey-day meal contribution will be cooked on my kettles, one way or another...I can make it happen. I just wish I would have stepped up to the plate and dropped the $300.00 for this 26.75" a few years ago...life on my little cooking tours for family gatherings would have been so much easier, even though I always seemed to manage with what I had and come up with a solution when presented with a challenge. It's nice to know I have much more options available now.


More good eats and easy cooking is coming my way, that's for sure. I didn't get a weather cover for this kettle, but I did find a source for the premium-grade polyester covers. It's been out in the weather this whole time, and we got some wind and rain several days ago...dirt all over it now...thing is, the weather really can't hurt these kettles, just makes 'em look a little rough, but they rinse off easy.


If anyone is on the fence about buying one, I'd recommend it. I haven't even tried 5% of the cooking methods and foods that will eventually pass through this grill and I have no reservations about jumping into whatever else comes my way...always waiting for the next challenge to spring up. It has enough cooking space to load 3 average butts or 2 large picnics, a packer brisket, or lots of ribs for indirect cooking. Sure, fire tending every 1-2 hours may be in order...maybe that's not for everyone, but to do it for hot & fast smokes during the day, like turkeys or yard birds, would be a snap.


Anyway, I'm looking forward to lots more coming off this grill, and it's little cousin...I gotta make a spot where they can both sit together and keep each other company while I'm away...LOL!!!




post #6 of 6
Great looking ribeye steaks. Check out the smokenator which is an awesome add-on for your grill.
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