Originally Posted by Gourmet Greg
That's a good point Andy, that the browning marks are flavor: Maillard reaction
. The part of the steak that doesn't get scorched doesn't get it. An assumption here is that the increased total length of grill marks exceeds the browning to greater depth by not crosshatching. I have no idea if that is correct but I believe there can be no doubt that the browning marks are more than cosmetic in grilled steaks. That might be why I often pan sear steaks despite the fact that I enjoy grilling.
Browning adds minimal flavor. I proved this because I had heard it said so many times and just had to find out. It does add flavor, but not a lot, and not that grilled flavor that we love.
To prove it to myself, and also the idea that intense heat creates the grilled flavor. I pan-fried a steak on a grill pan (with ridges) that made beautiful grill marks. I did it over medium high heat so as to not generate smoke. I tasted the steak. It tasted like a pan-fried steak. I then hit the steak with a butane torch over the top side, to test the intense heat theory. Again, nice maillard reaction, still tasted like a pan fried steak.
Cooked on a grill over a direct bed of charcoal, but used very lean meat. Great grill marks were achieved, little smoke was produced, and it tastes a lot like a pan fried steak.
Used a well marbled steak and cooiked over charcoal, letting the fat drip down and burn, creating smoke. Ah yes, now that's the flavor I was looking for.
Grilled flavor comes from smoke particle deposits on the meat surface. The smoke has to be from burning fat, not wood smoke. That's what creates the most flavor in beef. As I said, maillard helps, especially when your talking about a pan fried steak, or broiled steak. But fat dripping onto hot carcoal, or "flavorizer bars" on a gas grill, creates the smoke that flavors the meat.
Seeeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North