Cooking a scotch fillet on a Pit Barrel


| Tips & Tricks | Cooking a scotch fillet on a Pit Barrel

Cooking a scotch fillet on a Pit Barrel

The allure of a beautifully cooked steak is hard to resist for any meat lover, and the scotch or ribeye is king, especially infused with smoky barbecue flavours. This technique involves smoking the whole cut low and slow on a pit barrel before slicing it into steaks and finishing with a high-heat reverse sear. This method ensures a tender, juicy interior with a perfectly caramelised exterior, which you can cook to each individual persons’ liking – from rare to well-done.


1. Preparing the meat

Start with a high-quality, whole ribeye, also known as a scotch fillet or cube roll.

  • Trimming: We find that a whole scotch doesn’t have a large amount of fat on the outside so doesn’t require much trimming, if any at all. The the intramuscular fat and marbling allow it to remain succulent while cooking.
  • Seasoning: Season the meat liberally on all sides. You can stick to a simple mix of coarse salt and black pepper, or add garlic powder, onion powder, and a hint of paprika for a more complex flavour profile. Allow the seasoned meat to rest at room temperature for about an hour before cooking.

2. Setting up your pit barre

  • Fuel: We like to use lump charcoal as our fuel for this cook. Use enough for one or two layers on the bottom of the barrel.
  • Rods: Place the rods in the holes across the top of the pit barrel and
  • Temperature: Preheat your pit barrel temperature of about 225°F (107°C) to 250°F (121°C). Low 'n slow cooking is essential for tenderizing the meat and infusing it with smoky goodness. Watch our video on how to use a chimney starter to light your barbecue.
  • Wood Choice: Choose wood that complements beef – our favourite is pohutukawa. Place one lump in the middle and another to the side which will catch alight later in the cook. You want a clean, steady smoke.
  • Water Pan (Optional): Place a water pan in the smoker to help maintain a moist environment.

3. Smoking the whole scotch

  • Hooking the meat: You want to insert your hooks around 2 inches from end of the scotch fillet, and push them all the way through so the ends poke out the other side. This should be secure so the meat doesn’t fall off mid-cook. It’s best to choose the leaner end of the meat so that the fat is closer to the heat.
  • Placement: When the pit barrel has come up to temperature, and the smoke is clean and steady, it’s time to put the meat on. Place the hooks over one of the rods so that the majority of the fillet is in the middle of the barrel.
  • Probe: Use a meat thermometer to monitor its internal temperature. If using a digital meat thermometer (recommended), place the probe into the widest part of the meat and turn the reader on.
  • Duration: This should take around 45 minutes to one hour, depending on the size of your scotch. Aim for an internal temperature of around 115°F (46°C) for a rare roast, bearing in mind that we intend to cut it into steaks and cook further.
  • TIP: If you’re after a whole scotch fillet roast and you don’t want to turn it into steaks, keep it in the pit barrel for about 15 more minutes or until the internal temperature reaches around 135°F (57°C) for a beautiful medium-rare result.

4. Resting the scotch fillet

  • After reaching the target temperature, remove the scotch fillet from the smoker and let it rest for about 20-30 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.
  • TIP: to protect your hands from the heat, we suggest you purchase cotton gardening gloves from your local hardware store and then put black nitrile gloves over top to keep the moisture out. It’s much easier to use your hands rather than tools to remove the meat from the barbecue.

5. Set up the kamado or kettle for high-heat

  • High Heat Setup: While the meat is resting, prepare a kamado, kettle, or grill for high-heat cooking.

6. Slicing into Steaks

  • Slicing: Cut the scotch into steaks, around 4cm thick. Thicker steaks work well for reverse searing, as they can withstand the high heat without overcooking.
  • Seasoning: Season the cut sides of each steak with a little salt and pepper or more of whatever rub you are using.

7. Reverse Searing the Steaks

  • Searing: Place the steaks directly over the high heat. Sear each side for about 1 to 2 minutes, or until you achieve a deep, caramelized crust. Note: they will stick to the grill a little, but you can move them around with your gloved hands or tongs to prevent this.
  • Final Temperature: For a perfect medium-rare, aim for a final internal temperature of about 130°F (54°C) to 135°F (57°C) after searing.

8. Serving

  • Rest Again: Let the steaks rest for a few minutes after searing.
  • Serve: Enjoy your perfectly smoked and seared ribeye steaks with your favourite veggie sides. They pair wonderfully with roasted vegetables and a fresh salad.

Posted by Beef + Lamb New Zealand