Welcome to the Wood Fired Oven Podcast
Oct. 31, 2021

Live Cook - Hay smoked T-Bone Time in the Wood Fired Oven

Live Cook - Hay smoked T-Bone Time in the Wood Fired Oven

Join me this week as I tackle smoking and cooking a HUGE 8cm (3 inch) T-bone steak in the Wood Fired Oven.

T-Bones, or Porterhouse steak as some folk know it by, is a classic cut for the BBQ (which is grilling to many of you) in my part of the world. I attempt to introduce some of the techniques I have learned from smoking meats over the past decade. Coupled with hay salt, the result is absolutely spectacular - and best of all - super easy to do. Cooking with fire rocks. It really does.

I also have a chat about some exciting upcoming episodes which include interviewing some world class Wood Fired Oven cooks!

I want to hear from you! Head over to WoodFiredOven.Cooking and record your question for the show now. 

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Mark (00:14):
G'day, welcome to the Wood Fired Oven podcast, where I take a deep dive into the techniques, recipes and history of wood-fired oven cooking. My name is Mark an obsessed and somewhat curious fan of outdoor cooking, especially with my wood-fired oven. Follow my podcast in your favourite app and listen in as I go searching for the best recipes, tips, and advice to both supercharge our cooking skills and motivate you to light up your favourite outdoor cooking gear this weekend.

Mark (00:49):
G'day and welcome to this week's episode. Thank you so much for tuning into the Wood Fired Oven podcast. I had such a blast on the last episode, discussing all things pizza with Adrian. He's a super-duper home cook expert, and I learned a heap from Adrian. So thanks Adrian. I know the feedback that we've both received has been overwhelmingly positive, and I really appreciate that feedback. It seems that the listeners really want more interviews with home cooks and with the folk in the wood-fired oven industry. And I'm really pleased to let you know that over the next three or four months, I've got some fantastic, super exciting guests, all booked in, ready to go on the Wood Fired Oven podcast. And I'm very, very grateful to them. I'm not going to tell you today who those guests are, we'll just leave you in suspense for a little bit longer, but I can assure you, you'll be familiar with them. Really, really exciting to roll these out. And, for me personally, to get to know some of these fantastic folks who are involved in wood-fired oven cooking around the world. So stay tuned for more on that.

Mark (01:55):
So today I'm going to be cooking a T-bone steak in the wood-fired oven, and at the end of the cook, I'm going to be kissing it with some hay smoke, which is a new favourite thing I really like to do, both with soft vegetables and with meat. Hay produces a gorgeous earthly flavour to whatever you're cooking. And I think it lends itself so well to the wood-fired oven, which is not really set up as a smoker. The design of the oven doesn't really allow the smoke to get in and permeate the food. Now I love using my smokers. I've got three smokers beside me here in the yard, and I just love to use them.

Mark (02:33):
I've been using my smokers a lot longer than I've been using my wood-fired oven, but what I'm really enjoying doing at the moment is merging these two cooking styles together. It's a, the smoker wood fire oven fusion process for me. In a couple of weeks, I'm going to be exploring smoking chickens, smoking pork, and bringing those smoked flavours into the wood-fired oven in a dish that we've been doing as a family for a very long time. So stay tuned. That's going to be a three-part series on using smokers and using fusion in the wood-fired oven.

Mark (03:08):
So I've cooked T-bone steak quite a few times now in the wood-fired oven, I've experimented with different thicknesses, with different cooking styles. The actual cooking process is not terribly difficult, but it is such a gorgeous piece of meat for us down here in Australia and New Zealand, it really is the quintessential barbecue steak, their tender, their rich, their super flavoursome, the T-bone or the porterhouse as it might be called in your part of the world, has a tenderloin on one side of the bone and a sirloin on the other. And they do, taste a little different. They are the premier cuts on the beef, I think, they are just gorgeous. I know in Tuscany, the Italian folks really like, really really thick T-bones, which is just fantastic.

Mark (03:56):
So I headed out to the butcher a couple of days ago, and I wanted to pick up two T-bones, and I asked for about a six centimeter cut. And what I ended up with was closer to an eight centimeter cut, which is pretty thick. It's around about three inches thick, and I am a little concerned about how it's going to work out, but I suspect the only difference here will be a longer cooking time. Not really going to change my process too much today. Each of these T-bones worked out to be about 1.1, 1.2 kilos each, so it is a very large cut of a T-bone. Going to be a lot of fun to cook though

Mark (04:36):
So I've also prepared a large pan of roast vegetables, nothing particularly fancy here, nothing I haven't already done on the podcast. I've got pumpkin, I've got some potatoes, I've got some carrots and I've got some red onions, thrown into this pan, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with salt. And I'm just pouring in a bit of a vermouth to the bottom of the pan. I really like adding that to alcohol [laughter], to the roast vegetables. It's lovely! Really, really nice. Mixing all that through. And I'm gonna to put that in the oven, well I guess it's going to be until it's done. So it's going to be around about an hour maybe, maybe an hour and 20 minutes towards the end of the cooking cycle. That's when I'm going to get the T-bones underway. When I do my roast vegetables, I always like to put them in uncovered, first, for about 10 to 15 minutes, just to get kissed by that fire. And then I wrap it in foil. So just wrapping it in foil now and sliding it back into the wood-fired oven, the smells are ready. The olive oil is starting to smell, the pepper. Oh its smelling so good! Okay, its all wrapped up, heading back into the wood-fired oven. So when cooking my steak in the wood-fired oven and vegetables, I still had to get my oven up nice and hot. I still like to clear the dome. And so that's going to mean that the oven temperature is pretty warm. Then I just utilise the different areas of the floor to ensure that things aren't over cooked. So the vegetables are towards the side of the oven. I know, covered with foil, it's commercial grade kitchen foil, their well-protected. And they will just sit in the side there, and sizzle away and roast gently in the oven for that hour. Means that when it comes time to cook the steak on the Tuscan grill, I can put it deep into the oven and get a tremendous amount of heat quickly to the steak.

Mark (06:24):
So we've got a little bit of time before I start the steak. Let's have a question from one of the listeners. Now, recently I've started using SpeakPipe and SpeakPipe, it's a great product, allows you to record a little audio snippet and send it into me on the Wood Fired Oven podcast. That way I can get your question on air and reply. So if you want to give that a go, head onto my website, woodfiredoven.cooking. If you're on Instagram, check out my link in my bio, and you can record a quick question, a 30 second question, and you might get featured on the show.

Sarah (06:59):
Hi Mark! My names Sarah. Absolutely love your podcast. Your last episode with Adrian was fantastic. Hope you get to do more interviews. My question is I've noticed a few hair line cracks in my bricks within my oven. I was just wondering, is that normal? Do you think I should repair it or leave it? Thanks so much!

Mark (07:17):
Great question, Sarah, and look, thanks for trying out SpeakPipe and getting in touch with me. Go Sarah! Alright. Cracks in the brick work in the wood-fired oven. Actually, I've had another question recently on this very same issue, and I wouldn't worry about the cracks. As long as the cracks are hairline, like you say, and perhaps, aren't any wider in development, then maybe three to four mil, maybe two to three mil. I've actually got a number of cracks in the back of my wood-fired oven. They tend to follow the mortar line, and on a couple of places they actually crossed the brick and the bricks cracked. It's all gonna depend on your style of oven as well. With my oven, it's a, it's a heavy, heavy, thick brick oven. The dome is probably at least 30 centimetres or so thick. So hairline cracks in the brick work, they're not gonna to change the integrity of the oven. They're not gonna change the cooking styles in the oven. And for me, I think if you're going to start repairing that sort of stuff, you're going to introduce moisture back into the dome. It's going to take a while for that to dry out. You're going to have to be very careful, lighting up fires again in your wood fired oven. I would suggest you leave it. If they are minor. If they're larger than that, however, I think you should probably start considering making a repair. Talk to the manufacturer of the oven. When I finished building my oven after the first two or three curing fires, I then did a, a much higher temperature light up. And after a couple of those lineups, I did notice these cracks start to develop. And initially I was a bit disappointed. I thought all of that work that I'd put into it, and now this thing's cracking, but I soon realised that that's part and parcel of cooking in a wood-fired oven with the bricks. It's become its own character. And it's part of the oven. And you notice that these cracks can expand and contract slightly depending on the temperature of your oven. So I am no longer disappointed with those cracks. I actually think they look cool and I keep an eye on them. My eye goes to them and after a few years of using the oven, it's normal. I know it's normal. So don't worry about it. Thanks so much, Sarah, for getting in touch. If you'd like to ask a question, remember I head over to woodfiredoven.cooking. Or my link in my bio on Instagram and send me a quick audio question, would love to hear from you. I'm also open to suggestions via SpeakPipe as well. So get in touch and let me know what you think of this Wood Fired Oven podcast.

Mark (09:40):
So the vegetables have been in for just on an hour, and they're covered in foil and they are smelling fantastic. I'm now gonna get ready to do the steak. So, so I'm bringing the embers, charcoals from the fire into the centre of the oven. So when I do steak in the wood-fired oven, I'm using that gorgeous heat off the dome off the fire, which I've still got off to the side. And also from the brickwork at the bottom, I'm using every part of heat from this oven that I can. So I've got a stainless steel Tuscan grill, which is absolutely fantastic, really. And I'm just positioning that in the middle of the wood-fired oven, and just getting the charcoals and all the ambers surrounding the grill.

Mark (10:28):
So what I'd like to do before I do the steaks is super soak, this Tuscan grill. So it's now inside in the middle of the wood-fired oven sitting on top of embers. So when the steak hits that grill, it's sitting about six or seven millimetres above the hot embers. It's not going to take too long to cook I don't think. So there's not a lot I do to prepare the steak apart from ensuring it's nice and clean and cut well. Salt and pepper are the classics for a steak like this, really doesn't need too much. The beefy gorgeous flavors will come through. What I do do though, is I use a mixture of gorgeous, flaky salt, but also recently I've started to use hay salt. So to make hay salt, I get a cast iron pot, and I put a couple of big handfuls of hay in the pot and I light it up and I pop it into the wood-fired oven for a few minutes and it will flame and flare up and produce a lot of gorgeous smelling smoke. But what you're trying to do, is you're trying to burn the smoke down to ash basically. And once it's all turned into ash at the bottom of the pan, you take it out, you put it into a mortar and pestle and you grind it, and you grind it, and you grind it, until it becomes a powder. And then, you get some high quality flaky salt, and you pop that in to the mortar as well. You get your pestle and you grind and grind and grind until you've got a really fine hay smoked salt, taste it. Oh! It's so good. It really, really is great. Sprinkle that on top of the T-bone and you're gonna impart some real rich smoky flavours to the steak. And it's beautiful! Coupled with the smoking of the hay, right at the end, it is something quite different. I really, really challenge you to try it. It's absolutely beautiful. Hay smoked T-bone steak.

Mark (12:23):
Okay. Now I've had my T-bone steak out on the bench in the kitchen cupboard for about 19 minutes. It's really important that you let your steak come up to room temperature before you throw it on the hot grill. So at least 60 minutes for a steak like this. Now my steaks is pretty thick. So I've left it for a little bit longer, about an hour and a half, just to ensure that the whole steak is ready to hit that super heat and in the wood fired oven. Okay, it's time to put the steak now into the wood-fired oven, putting it on the Tuscan grill now, and it's gonna probably take maybe eight to 10 minutes aside. It is really thick and it's the thickest T-bone I've cooked, so not entirely sure how long it's going to take to cook, but we'll give it a go for about eight minutes and we'll test it about that time.

Mark (13:11):
Now I always temperature check my steak and my chicken. I've got a couple of thermapens that I do my temperature checking with, and I highly recommend temperature checking. Now, I like to get my steaks to about medium rare, which is round about a hundred and thirty, a hundred and thirty five degrees Fahrenheit or between 54 and 57, 58 degrees Celsius. I actually temperature check my food in Fahrenheit for some weird reason. I think it's because, and I say, it's weird because I'm a Kiwi living in Australia and we're in Celsius down here, but I must have watched far too many Barbecue Pit Masters when I was learning how to use my smokers, [laughter] that I've now become accustomed to working my food, temperatures in Fahrenheit, which is, which is just fine. Okay. So that's what we're targeting, don't know quite how long that's gonna take, but let's see.

Mark (14:02):
Okay. I'm just checking the steaks, now I'm going to flip them over. It's been around about eight minutes, maybe eight or nine minutes. Ah man it smells so good. So the side that's been next to the embers, that's caramelised just beautifully and the smell coming off that is just divine. All right. Flipping it over, putting it back in the oven for about another eight or nine minutes or so. And we'll see what it's like, at that point. Okay. So I'm just going to temperature check the steaks now, I like to, it's a big piece. I'm going to temperature check it in a few spots. Okay. So yeah, 107 hundred and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. It's now after about 16 odd minutes, 17 minutes, it's going to take a little longer. I need to push this up to about 135 degrees Fahrenheit, like I said. So I'm going to flip it again and I'm going to rotate the steak 90 degrees to see if I can get some of those nice grill marks, if that's your thing. It doesn't really bother me too much grill marks, but we'll give it a shot and that's gone back into the oven and we'll give it another two or three minutes on the side and then we'll flip it again.

Mark (15:07):
And we're going to flip it again now. So the time actually is now pushing out to about 25 minutes. Now, remember this piece of steak is over a kilos heavy, so it's really no surprise to me now, in hindsight [laughter], that it would take a bit longer than normal. Checking the temperature again, there are some parts of the steak now starting to touch 125. So we're almost there. I'm going to pop it back into the oven for another few minutes. So interestingly now we're actually at about 31 minutes since the steak went into the oven. Okay. And just temperature checking once again and now we're cooking! Now we're starting to look at around about, yeah go about 128 degrees Fahrenheit, 130 degrees Fahrenheit. So it's actually ready for hay smoking. So, I find it really difficult to cook in the wood-fired oven, particularly when cooking the steak was something that is slow cooking, [laughter] without nice glass of red wine. So I'm just pouring myself one of those.

Mark (16:07):
Okay. So let's get ready to hay smoke. So I've got some pet store clean hay, which I purchased a couple of months ago. I'm going to need probably two big handfuls of this stuff. So I'm bringing the charcoals, bringing the embers out to the front of the oven under the chimney, and placing the Tuscan grill right over the top of the embers again. I know, as soon as I throw this handful of hay on those embers, it's just going to go poof into smoke, catch fire, and it's just going to be amazing. So we're just going to get everything ready. Okay, so I'm doing it now, lifting up the Tuscan grill, putting the hay on the embers [laughter] and it doesn't take long for that to go into smoke. Oo there it goes. Making sure the steak sitting right on top of all of this glorious hay that is wafting out of the oven.

Mark (16:58):
Oh, it's fantastic! And it is so nice to incorporate smoke flavours into your food in a wood fired oven and using hay is such a great way to do it. You could also throw hay on your fire, inside the oven, to try to develop some smoke. But I think you're going to find it difficult, as the design of the oven, the dome, will push that smoke straight out of the chimney, but doing it this way under the grill, in front of your oven is such a great way to do it. Oh, that looks great. It is so cool. So that's been about a minute or so I'm going to flip the steak. I'm going to put another hand full, there we go, underneath the Tuscan grill now and that's the other side now getting kissed with this gorgeous hay smoke. Do try it! Definitely give it a go. The smell is so earthy. It's so gorgeous. And coupled with that hay salt, it's going to be fantastic. Just giving some of the hay, a bit of a blow and there it is. Any remaining hay should puff back into flame and produce some more glorious smokes. I had a little bit, but it didn't catch fire immediately there.

Mark (18:01):
And there it is. It's all finished. Now I'm bringing it off the Tuscan grill, putting it onto a plate. And I'm going to wrap foil over the top of the plate, on top of this beautiful piece of steak and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Now, why rest the steak? Well, there's a bit of conjecture over it. Certainly resting the steak, allows the heat to transfer evenly through the steak. And, because it's so thick and that's going to be a really great idea. The conjecture I think is around the moisture retention in the steak and there have been some scientific studies done that actually resting steak, to keep the juices and everything inside the steak, might be a little bit of a myth, but anyway, I'm not here today to cause controversy with your steak resting [laughter], but do check it out, have a bit of a read. I'm doing this to help to distribute all the heat correctly through the state. I know that the temperature is bang on, and it's going to be absolutely gorgeous.

Mark (18:54):
Okay. So the steaks been resting for 10 to 15 minutes now, I've brought it on top of a chopping board, and I'm just going to cut the steak off the bone to leave the T bone shape, just cutting around both sides. Now it's very easy to cut. Oh man is smelling so good! And now I'm just gently slicing into, maybe, four to five millimetre thick pieces. It's a big piece of steak, it's going to easily do a family of 4 here. And cut it, yeah that is medium rare. Oh, that's fantastic. It's always rewarding when you take the time to cook something like this. And I think it came out, around about $40 each. So it's an expensive piece of beef. You want to get it right? It's so rewarding, cutting into it and seeing that medium rare, oh that's just so glorious. So we're about to eat this. I'm pulling out the vegetables now from the wood-fired oven, they smell fantastic. You can smell the alcohol. You can smell the vermouth on the cooling air, outside of the oven, coupled with the steak. It's going to be a glorious, glorious, beautiful dinner with the family here on this Saturday afternoon.

Mark (20:05):
Thank you so much for joining me on this week's episode. Please remember if you want to get in touch, if you've got a question, jump over to woodfiredoven.cooking, or check out the link in my Instagram profile and send me a question or send me a suggestion via SpeakPipe. It's free, doesn't cost you anything, that way you can get featured on the show. And I would love to hear from you and have your questions, being a continual part of these podcasts episodes. It's really fun, to respond to questions and I'm really here to do that also for the guests that I've got coming up. I know they are equally happy to answer your questions. So if you get into the habit now [laughter], when some of these guests come on the show shortly, you're going to have the opportunity to send questions into the show that you might want to ask them. Also, if you've got ideas about who I can interview on the podcast, your favourite folk in the wood-fired oven industry, send me via SpeakPipe your suggestions. And that'd be a great way for me to hear from you about who you would like to have on this Wood Fired Oven podcast. Thank you so much for joining me in my backyard today. Joining me in front of my wood-fired oven while I cook the hay smoke T-bone steak and roast vegetables, stay safe, have fun and go cook with fire and hay smoke! Catch you later!

Mark (21:28):
If you've enjoyed this episode, please make sure you follow the Wood Fired Oven podcast in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favourite podcasting app. Please consider posting a review on Apple Podcasts as this really helps the show. Don't forget to check out woodfiredoven.cooking for more tips, tricks, and advice on cooking with fire. You can also see full episode notes and links. You can also post a question, which I may feature on the show. I'm also on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, so head over to your favourite social platform and get in touch. Thanks again for listening. Catch you next time.