BBQ Master Aaron Franklin's Tip For Cooking Steak Without A Smoker - Exclusive

Aaron Franklin knows how to make standout barbecue. The pitmaster behind Franklin Barbecue has been cooking some of the finest barbecue in all of Texas since 2009 when he first began operating a small barbecue trailer on the side of the interstate. Smoking meat is at the core of Franklin's artistry, which has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation. In an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Franklin discussed all things smoking, including how home cooks can become masters themselves. 

While Franklin loves cooking over an open flame, he recognizes that not everyone has the time or equipment to be able to smoke their meat. Fortunately, Franklin has some guidance on how to cook an excellent steak without a smoker. According to Franklin, while "there's no substitution for time and labor" or the intense smoky flavor that comes from cooking on a smoker, "there is technology out there for pellet cookers." Franklin says the technology has advanced to such an extent that "the food quality people are capable of achieving off of pellet cooker[s] ... is way better than it's ever been." Don't have a pellet cooker? The good news is that most folks have access to Franklin's go-to solution for cooking steak without any fancy equipment: slow roasting in an oven.

Why Aaron Franklin wants you to slow roast your steak in an oven

When Franklin is strapped for time, but still wants to prepare a satisfying and delicious steak at home, he recommends turning to the oven. Slow-roasting in the oven is a longstanding technique that works as well for chicken as it does for nice juicy cuts of steak. When Franklin slow roasts, he likes to "bring other flavors in like garlic, or ... dry-brining for a big roast before cooking it down." Dry-brining is a technique in which a mixture of spices and salt are rubbed into a steak before cooking to help enhance the flavor of the meat. 

Looking to amplify your flavor profile even further? Franklin incorporates a more traditional cooking style into his repertoire by preparing a beef stock. "If you're roasting bones and going through all the steps and getting a little more Frenchy with it ... you won't get the smokiness [that you would from a smoker], but you can get the same appeal." Franklin develops those sought-after roasty flavors by achieving a Maillard reaction, which is a chemical reaction that results in intense tastes and smells and is often accompanied by a rich browning on the surface of whatever you're cooking. 

For more tips on cooking meat, check out "Franklin Smoke", which is now available for purchase here.