Reverse-Seared Steak

I love beef, it’s rich and packed with flavors and essential nutrients, and among all the dishes one can make with beef, steak is my favorite. There are many ways to cook a steak, a grilled steak is always great because the charred grill marks just add that perfect amount of smokiness, but not everyone has a grill and most griddles don’t get to a high enough temp to cook the steak & char the surface properly. The pan-seared steak is another classic, it’s simple and effortless, the full contact with the pan allows short cooking time and creates a lot of “fond” (the bits that stick to the pan) which if you deglaze it with some wine or stock, make a great sauce. However, there is still too much moisture in the meat, thus preventing the pan reaching a high temp and makes the surface soggy. And for both method to work properly, the meat must be allowed to rest to achieve even cooking, and a lot of the juiciness of the steak is lost during that time. The solution to fix the problems of both method is called “Reverse-Searing”, you roasted it first in a low temp oven to cook it, then sear it to create the crust, this way, you don’t need a big grill because all you need is an oven, meat thermometer, and pan.

There are 3 main advantages if you reverse sear a steak:

  • Less “gray ring” – for those who enjoy a good tender, rare or medium rare steak, there’s nothing worse than a gray ring of well-done meat wrapping around the tender juicy goodness. The slow cook in oven allow the meat to cook more evenly, kinda like sous vide, with an all pink cross section
  • Better browning: By cooking it in an oven, most moisture on the surface is removed so the outer surface can be browned perfectly! This is why I prefer severe searing than sous vide because when you sous vide a steak and then sear it, the surface is too wet for a pan to reach a high temp for browning
  • Easier & cheaper: With this, you have more time, for people who sear or grill their steak, a rare to a medium rare might just be 30 sec difference in cook time, whereas the low temp oven extends that to about 10 min. Also, you don’t need a big grill or an expensive sous vide machine which costs about 100+ USD, all you need is an oven, a meat thermometer (about 10 USD), and a pan

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1 – Prep:

Choose the right meat, even though almost any cut of steak works, my personal favorite is a thin 1 1/2 to 2-inch thick cut rib eye, it is both flavorful and tender, and marbling of fat makes it super juicy, a nice thick strip would also work well for reverse searing. Season your meat generously with salt and black pepper, then place them on a baking rack over a roasting tray. Preheat the oven to about 120°C or 250°F, you can set it to any temp as long as it’s within the 93°C/200°F – 135°C/275°F, lower temp allows the meat to cook more evenly, but it takes a lot longer.

Step 2 – Slow Roasting:

Place the entire tray in the oven, and roast until the center temperature hits about 5°C/10°F below the final temperature at which you’d like to serve the meat, this would take any time from 30 min to 1 h, really depends on the cut you use. Try to get the temp once every 8 min or so. Also, you need a good/accurate thermometer for this process, but there’s no need to break the banks for one, a small usually costs thermal-pen less than 10 USD and is very reliable.

Step 3 – Searing:

About 2 min before the steaks reach 5°C/10°F below the ideal temp, heat up a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a heavy skillet over high heat, you want the oil to smoke just a little bit, which means the temperature is at about 200°C/400°F. Add the steaks with a tablespoon of butter and cook it until it’s nicely browned on the first side, which should take about 45 seconds. Flip the steak and cook the second side, and don’t forget about hold it sideways to near their edges.

Step 4 – Serving:

DO NOT REST! Cut it up and serve it straight away, the steak is already evenly cooked in the oven, so there’s no need to rest the meat!



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