It seems that any truly useful lesson I've ever learned about cooking has been the product of an accident or a fundamental misunderstanding of proper culinary technique. The subject of this article falls into the former category: happy accidents.
Several summers ago, when I was relatively new to meat and butchering, I was invited to a friend of a friend's house to have a barbecue for about 10 people. Working alone in a tiny room with access to a locker full of beef and a band saw will lead you to do strange things: among them, deciding to cut one giant steak to feed 10 rather than 10 small steaks.
After work I happily loaded the 4-inch-thick, bone-in sirloin into my bag and biked over to the party. Revealing the mammoth steak to the guests filled my heart with rainbows and unicorns, so sincere and loud were the oohs and ahhs laid upon the preposterous slab of beef. I rode high on that wave for the next five minutes until I discovered that the unfamiliar gas grill in this strange and wonderful post-industrial patio had some pretty significant issues.
Although the tank was full of gas and the burners were turned up to 11, the gleaming stainless steel showpiece was only capable of mustering about 250 degrees worth of heat with the lid closed. For a guy raised in the high-heat world of California backyard barbecues, this was a serious problem. How would it sear, and, more importantly, how long was it going to take to cook this big bastard? Well, with no back-up charcoal grill there was really only one thing to do and one way to solve the issue: put it on and see what would happen.