If you’re a steak lover, you’re probably always looking for ways to make your favorite cut of beef even more tender and flavorful. Enter the reverse sear, a cooking technique that has become increasingly popular among chefs and home cooks alike. In this article, we’ll explore the art of reverse searing, its benefits, and how you can use it to create the perfect steak in both the oven and on the grill. Let’s get started!
What is Reverse Searing
So, what exactly is reverse searing? In simple terms, reverse searing is a method of cooking a steak where you first slowly cook it at a low temperature before searing it in a hot pan or grill for a short time. This process is the exact opposite of the traditional method where you would first sear a steak on high heat and then finish it in the oven or on the grill.
To break it down further, reverse searing involves two main steps:
1. Slow cooking: This step involves cooking the steak in an oven or on the grill’s cooler side at a low temperature (usually between 200°F and 275°F). The goal here is to evenly cook the steak from edge to edge without overcooking the exterior. This will help ensure that your steak is tender and evenly cooked throughout, with an ideal internal temperature of around 120°F to 130°F (for a medium-rare doneness).
2. Searing: Once the steak has been slow-cooked and reached the desired internal temperature, it’s time to give it that delicious, caramelized crust we all know and love. To do this, quickly sear the steak on a hot skillet or grill for about one to two minutes per side. This short burst of high heat will lock in the juices and flavors while providing that perfect, crispy crust.
Reverse searing as a cooking method might appear to defy conventional wisdom, but this approach has proven to transform ordinary steak into a mouthwatering masterpiece. Read on to discover the benefits of using the reverse sear method and how to execute it flawlessly for an unforgettable steak experience.
Benefits of Reverse Searing a Steak
One of the main benefits of reverse searing a steak is the control it offers over the cooking process. By slowly raising the internal temperature, you’re able to achieve a more even cook throughout the entire piece of meat. This means no more blue and undercooked interiors or overcooked and dry exteriors. Additionally, reverse searing ultimately results in a more tender and juicier steak due to the low and slow temperature it is cooked at. Lastly, reverse searing can enhance the overall flavor, as the searing step at the end of the process creates a rich and delicious crust on the steak’s surface.
Choosing the Right Cut of Steak
When it comes to picking the perfect cut of steak for reverse searing, it’s important to know what works best with this technique. The ideal steak should be at least 1 to 1.5 inches thick, as thinner cuts could easily overcook during the process. Some excellent steak cuts for reverse searing include ribeye, New York strip, filet mignon, and T-bone.
The ribeye is known for its marbling and rich flavor, making it a top choice among steak enthusiasts. New York strip steaks, on the other hand, are leaner and have a firmer texture. For those who prefer a lean and tender cut, the filet mignon is ideal. Lastly, T-bone steaks offer a taste of both worlds with their combination of tender filet and meaty strip attached to a bone.
Additionally, quality matters when choosing a cut of steak. Opt for steaks with a good amount of marbling, as the fat throughout the meat adds flavor and helps keep the steak juicy during the cooking process. If possible, go for steaks that are graded Choice or Prime by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the best results. These have a higher amount of marbling, which leads to a better-tasting and more tender steak.
Preparing the Steak
Before you begin the reverse searing process, it’s essential to prepare your steak properly. First, pat it dry using paper towels to remove any excess surface moisture, as this can hinder the searing process. Then, generously season the steak with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, or any other preferred spices or herbs. If possible, let the seasoned steak rest in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, uncovered, to further dry out and allow the seasoning to penetrate the meat. Finally, remove the steak from the refrigerator one hour before cooking to bring it to room temperature for better results.
How to Reverse Sear a Steak in the Oven
Now that you’ve chosen a well-marbled steak and prepped it with seasoning, it’s time to initiate the reverse sear process with the help of your oven. First, preheat your oven to a low temperature, around 275°F (135°C) is ideal. If you have a wire rack, place it on top of a baking tray and put your steak on top. This helps circulate the air around the entire steak, ensuring even cooking. If you don’t have a wire rack, simply placing the steak on the baking tray will also work.
Next, place the tray in the oven and cook the steak until it reaches an internal temperature of around 10°F (5-6°C) below your desired final doneness. This typically takes 40 to 60 minutes, depending on the thickness of your steak. For example, if you’re aiming for medium-rare, cook the steak to an internal temperature of 120–125°F (49–52°C).
To ensure precise cooking, using an oven-safe meat thermometer or an instant-read thermometer is highly recommended.
Once your steak has reached that 10°F (5-6°C) buffer, remove it from the oven and let it rest for a couple of minutes. While it’s resting, preheat your skillet or grill. This short wait prepares your steak for the final searing step to lock in the perfect flavors and texture.
How to Reverse Sear a Steak on the Grill
To reverse sear a steak on the grill, start by preheating your grill to around 250°F. If you have a gas grill, set one of the burners on low heat and the other one on high heat. If you are using a charcoal grill, arrange the charcoal briquettes accordingly, so that you have one cooler and one hotter zone.
Pat your seasoned steak dry with paper towels (this process helps to create a nice crust when searing later). Place the steak on the cooler zone of the grill, with the thicker side facing the hotter zone. Close the lid and let it cook slowly until the internal temperature reaches about 10 to 15 degrees below the desired final temperature. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.
For a rare steak, you want to reach about 115°F; for medium-rare, target 125°F; and for medium, aim for 135°F. This slow-cooking process may take around 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the thickness of your steak and the temperature of your grill.
Once the steak reaches the desired internal temperature, move it to the hotter zone of the grill to sear it. Sear each side for about one to two minutes, or until you achieve a caramelized, crispy crust. Be sure to monitor the heat closely to avoid burning.
Finally, remove the steak from the grill, let it rest for about five minutes, and enjoy the perfectly cooked, juicy, and tender reverse-seared steak!
Finishing with a Sear
Once your steak has reached its desired internal temperature, it’s time for the final flourish: the sear. Remove the steak from the oven or grill and place it on a hot and lightly oiled cast-iron skillet or grill. Sear for one to two minutes per side, until it develops a beautiful crust. This final step in reverse searing not only adds a gorgeous, flavorful crust but also locks in the juices, ensuring your steak stays tender and moist.
Reverse searing is a fantastic method to cook a perfect steak, offering even cooking and superb flavor. Try this technique with your favorite cut of steak and elevate your home-cooked meals to a whole new level.