The XErt Top Sirloin Method
©2003, The Naked Whiz
First of all, the name of this method is the XErt method because it is the opposite of the TRex method for New York Strips. Instead of searing the meat and then cooking it at a lower temperature after a 20 minute wait, we cook the meat at a lower temperature first, and then finish with a sear. However, we aren't dealing with expensive top dollar meat with this method. Rather, we are going to use a cheaper cut of meat, Top Sirloin, where this reversed TRex method will do a better job.
We first encountered this strategy in Alton Brown's Good Eats show entitled, "Raising The Steaks." He uses a military metaphor for explaining why this method works best with Top Sirloin. Basically, if you use a sear-only method (using every division at your disposal), you'll end up with a beautiful outer crust, but the heat (thermal troops) will push on into the heart of the meat yielding a medium-well result in a piece of meat that cries out for medium-rareness. If you use a sear followed by a cooler cook (allow your thermal troops to retreat), so much cellular damage is done, the steak may lose too many fluids to survive.
But if you use a cool cook followed by a sear (sneak up on the steak with a few well-chosen commandos), you gently raise the interior temperature without doing much damage to the structure of the meat. Then when the center of the meat is within striking distance of medium-rare, you increase the heat, pushing in every bit of thermal energy you possibly got until the steak wishes it had never.....
So that's the approach. Gently cook, then sear to doneness.
Choose Your Meat
This method is intended to be used with Top Sirloin. This doesn't mean good sirloin, it means a cut that comes from the top of the sirloin. It may also be called, depending on your location, top butt steak, center cut sirloin or hip sirloin steak. Do not use cuts from the bottom of the sirloin. These may be called tri-tip, ball tip, or any name that has "butt" in it, except of course, for the top butt steak. You want a nice thick piece of meat, about 1-1/4 inches thick.
We kept it simple when we cooked our top sirloin: cracked pepper, sea salt, and crushed garlic cloves.
Prepping The Meat
Just crush the garlic (one large clove per side of each piece of meat), rub it into the meat, and then sprinkle with cracked pepper and sea salt.
Cooking The Meat
Build a 400-degree fire in your ceramic cooker. Place the grid (for a Big Green Egg) on the fire ring. When you have the fire stabilized, cook your meat 5 minutes per side. (Of course, you may want to adjust this time to suit your taste and the thickness of the meat.)
Raising The Temperature For The Sear
After you have cooked the meat on both sides, open the cooker, remove the meat and then set the bottom vent wide open and remove the daisy wheel from the top. You want as hot a roaring fire as you can get, perhaps around 750 degrees or more.
Searing The Meat
Once the fire is roaring, sear the meat for 3 minutes per side. Again, you may wish to adjust this time depending on how charred you want your outer crust and how done you want your meat.
The Moment You've Been Waiting For
Remove your steak from the Egg and rest it for about 2 – 3 minutes to redistribute the juices internally. Then slice it thinly. The meat fibers in a top sirloin run from the top of the meat to the bottom of the meat, in other words, they are standing on end. So you should cut the meat on the bias in order to keep the length of the meat fibers as short as possible. This will result in a more tender chewing experience than if you leave the meat fibers long. You can now experience a great steak at less than great-steak-prices. And you didn't have to wait the extra 20 minutes! :-)