Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

Mark of the Pit Master: How to Get Perfect Char Marks Everytime

There is nothing quite so fine on a cold November’s eve, than the sound of a thick porterhouse steak sizzling prostrate over a beautiful bed of sear1coals. It’s ample portions of a cow well-pampered, searing to perfection on a hot cast iron grate. We often praise the method of in-direct cooking here, putting your meat opposite the hot coals for to cook there out of harms way. It is a good and reliable technique. But there are also times in the BBQ arts where it is appropriate to throw caution to the cowards, and plunk your plunder straight over the inferno. The char mark is just such an occasion.

It’s pretty much for cosmetic flare alone, tho there is some flavor in char I suppose. Nay, this is more like chrome on your bumper rather than a finely tuned transmission. You don’t need it to get where you’re going, but it sure looks good when you pull into your destination. A lovingly seared steak, branded with a crisp diamond hatch pattern, is one of the higher pleasures to grace our dinner plates, and men and women folk alike and around the world will openly weep in its presence. It’s pretty easy to do too, and just takes a few minutes over direct heat.

Now a char mark is rather simple to achieve if you have a good cast iron grate to work with. The standard steel grates that come with a Weber kettle can do an OK job, but it’s a whole lot easier, better, and a might more fun, with grates from the likes of Craycort Cast Iron Grates. We got our Craycort  grate last year, and it has been a love affair ever since. If you haven’t bothered to get yourself one of these yet for your Weber Kettle grill, well, you’re missing out!

sear 4

Anyways, a good way to get a perfect char mark every time is to first oil the grate. Use an oil with a high flash point, such as peanut oil, and paint it on good and liberal. Let the grate get piping hot. Now if you’re so inclined, and really want to swing for the fences, brush some oil over your steak too. This will all but guarantee you some killer grill marks. When everything is good and hot and oily, plunk your meat right down over ground zero, and listen to it sizzle and sing. Flames will shoot up, and seemingly appear to savage your steak, but fear not. You have things well under control. After 90 seconds or so, and with tongs in hand, adeptly clasp your beloved protein and rotate it a minimum of 45 degrees or so, for the oft coveted diamond hatch pattern. Let your pit master instincts be your guide here.

Flip steak. Oil grate again if you like, and repeat the process. The perfect char marks are yours for the taking. After a fashion, tuck the steaks in-direct now, to finish cooking with a little mesquite wood added to the coals for good measure. Season as you see fit, and serve alongside a good potato. Man! Good eating at the pit. And shoot, kinda looks pretty too!

Grill on, people!



Mesquite Tinted Porterhouse Steak and Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Man! A feller could eat this every day, only he probably shouldn’t!



22 responses

  1. Pingback: Mark of the Pit Master: How to Get Perfect Char Marks Everytime - Best 2 Buy Outdoor

  2. Note to myself…don’t read kitchen blogs before lunch 🙂

    December 22, 2014 at 11:23 am

  3. Nice crosshatches!

    December 22, 2014 at 12:15 pm

  4. laurie27wsmith

    Great steak POTP, worthy of Christmas day even.

    December 22, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    • Thanks Laurie. Love a good steak, even not on a holiday!

      Hope you’re feeling better, mate! Take care


      December 22, 2014 at 3:09 pm

      • laurie27wsmith

        Steaks know nothing about seasons and holidays, they’re there to be eaten. yeah I’m getting there, still not ready to go a full round or two yet.

        December 22, 2014 at 4:06 pm

  5. Yum. nothing beats a well rested piece of protein, juices intact. Nice grill marks are your signature – we eat with our eyes first. Well done. Nice, short and to the point. Rack up another one, you are on a roll. Such fun to read.

    December 22, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    • Many thanks, Mr Quincho! I have to return the compliment. Your meat blogs, and putterings about the quincho there, are among my very favorite to read and digest.

      Merry Christmas, my friend!

      December 23, 2014 at 10:38 am

  6. Beautiful, simply beautiful! I have always taken a bit of pride on the meat I bring in from the grill. If guests were not hungry before the presentation, the sounds of sizzling meat and the sight of properly grilled steaks instantly triggers saliva glands and stomach rumbling.

    May all of your rumbling stomachs be filled this Christmas, my friend. Feliz Navidad!

    December 23, 2014 at 6:58 am

    • Thank you John. Ditto! And Merry Christmas and many blessings to you and Mary. Life is good!

      December 23, 2014 at 10:35 am

  7. Char marks, the hallmark and signature of a good pitmaster and a skilled grill jockey.

    December 23, 2014 at 8:39 am

    • Well I couldn’t have said it better my self! Merry Christmas, Mr Dodd, to you and your family. Always a pleasure when you chime in. Take care, man!

      December 23, 2014 at 10:32 am

      • And a very smoky and Merry Christmas to you and all of those that you love.

        December 23, 2014 at 11:03 am

  8. Hey buddy … been away for awhile but always good to come back to the fold and read your most excellent prose. Grill on my Smokie Northern Brutha, grill on !! 🙂

    December 23, 2014 at 3:53 pm

  9. Oh and … MERRY CHRISTMAS DUDE !!! From my house to yours, all the best of the season, and I wish a very Happy and healthy 2015 to you and yours.
    Grill on !! 🙂

    December 23, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    • Appreciate that, good sir. Likewise to you and your spousal equivalent!

      December 23, 2014 at 4:08 pm

  10. Love a grilled porterhouse. The king of all steaks! Thanks for sharing and great writing.

    December 27, 2014 at 7:55 am

  11. Liz

    yes, weeping openly–I can see that. Looks crazy good. And it would be a nice foil for all the sweets that have been devoured these last few weeks. Craving steak!

    December 28, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    • I think I always crave steak. It’s the best thing ever, pretty much. You’re right too, especially after a week of Christmas cookies.

      Party on, Liz!

      December 28, 2014 at 9:09 pm

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