Get steakhouse-quality sears at home with this Schwank Portable Infrared Grill
Story and photo by Michael Hiller
There are dozens of ways to cook steaks. A handful work fine for an impromptu weekday dinner, but none is as good as cooking on a Schwank Infrared Grill. A propane grill never gets hot enough to produce a steakhouse-quality sear. A charcoal grill may get you there, but it takes a lot of work and time — and creates a lot of mess.
We prefer the Schwank’s low-work, high-payoff approach.
The Dallas chef and restaurateur John Tesar knows a thing or two about cooking prime steaks, so when he told us the Schwank grill cooks a steak as well as the $10,000 broilers at his Knife steakhouses, we had to try it. Now we won’t give it up.
The grill’s twin top-mounted infrared gas heaters are fueled by a standard tank of propane. They can reach 1,500 degrees in under three minutes. Typical backyard gas grills struggle to reach 600 degrees. It’s that intense, focused heat that creates the golden, caramelized crust that fancy steakhouse broilers deliver.
“I can broil a steak in the Schwank that’s nearly as perfect as one at Knife,” says Tesar, who uses a Schwank to cook steaks, burgers and even pizzas at his home. Morton’s, Del Frisco’s, the Palm and many other famous steakhouses use Schwank infrared broilers, too.
The Schwank grill is simple to use. Handles on both sides of the grill add portability. The grill has an open front, on/off gas control on the top, battery-powered ignitor and adjustable height cooking grate you control by moving a lever on the side. Start the grill, wait a few minutes for it to fully heat up, then place your steaks on the grill’s stainless steel cooking grate. You control how much heat reaches the cooking surface by raising or lowering that grate, which alters the distance from the infrared broilers at the top. A drip pan collects all the juices for easy clean-up.
We found it easy to turn out restaurant-quality steaks, burgers, chicken breasts and vegetables by sizzling them at the lowest of the seven positions for a few minutes on each side, then raising the grate to the highest setting (which exceeded 1,100 degrees on our infrared thermometer) to finish cooking them.
The Schwank grill is an exceptional match for thick, expensive cuts of prime beef like you’d buy from online purveyors such as Allen Brothers or hometown experts like B&B Butchers & Restaurant. But unlike a lot of expensive grills that promise a steakhouse experience at home, Tesar says, “this one actually delivers.”