I love it when my friends call me for advice on food. I absolutely love it to death, because it gets me started talking about cooking and it jumpstarts me to doing research about things that I need to know about cooking. One thing I DO absolutely know, however, is steak. I am what one would call a dedicated carnivore. You give me a steak, and I consume it. Simple relationship, right? Right.
Well…recently, a friend called me looking for advice on how to cook a steak that would not produce huge billowing clouds of smoke in her kitchen. Every time she tried previously to cook a steak on the stove top, she burned it. NOT cool. I told her not to fear. I have the answer. It’s called “reverse searing”.
Now, I am not touting this as an original creation. I AM, however, saying that it’s the only tried and true method for producing a wonderful steak cooked to medium temperature that I have NEVER messed up. And as we all know, steak can be a tricky creature to navigate. Too hot of a pan, and you get a crust (or, more succinctly, you get carbonized like Han Solo) with raw meat. Too short of a cook time – you just get raw meat that you need a katana to slice. We don’t want any of that. SO…let’s stroll through the steps you need to follow to get it right – every time!
First and foremost – you can’t make it work with a thinly cut steak, in my humble opinion. You CAN…but you gotta doctor it a little too much for my taste. So let’s skip to the basics: A good 1-2 inch ribeye (anywhere between 12-16 ounces precooked) is the best for this experiment. After all, my best guess says you’re going to be hungry and a thin steak just isn’t going to do it for you. Trust me on this one. So, take your ribeye, pat it completely as dry as you can with a paper towel, and sprinkle salt and pepper all over it. On ALL sides. And then allow it to come to room temperature. Just let it sit. You can sit and watch the spices dry out the moisture if you REALLY want to, but it doesn’t beat Paint-Dry Cinema.
So, while you wait the required 15-20 minutes for that magic to happen, assemble the following:
- Large cast-iron skillet with a heavy bottom. If you don’t have cast-iron, just make sure your skillet will stand up to fairly high heat, as you need this for the crust on that steak;
- Oven pan with a rack.. This isn’t designed to catch the juices falling from the steak in the stove for later uses – it’s there to keep the steak from pooling in said juices. Don’t worry, your steak will still be juicy.
- Oven thermometer. If you have one that runs from the stove to an outer source – great! But you can still get it done if you have a stick thermometer, or a laser. Just make sure that it’s accurate!
- Oven, preheated to 275 degrees Fahrenheit/135 degrees Celsius.
By the time your oven heats up, your spices should have done their job and drawn the moisture closer to the surface of the steak. It may look a little red – that’s just fine, because now you’re going to stick it in the oven for another 20-25 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches at least 125 degrees Fahrenheit/52 degrees Celsius – for a good medium-rare steak. For a steak cooked perfectly medium, you want a final internal temperature of about 140 degrees Fahrenheit/60 degrees Celsius. Thing to remember here – The steak is going to keep cooking internally once you remove it from the oven! So if you take it out a couple degrees before your desired internal temperature – don’t wig out. It’s still going to come out tasting wonderfully. AND, it will still be safe for human consumption!
Once you reach the desired internal temperature, you should remove the steaks from the oven and place them inside your already hot skillet. To achieve a perfect sear, you should combine 1 tablespoon of oil with the highest smoke point possible (I use avocado, as it has a smoke point of 550 degrees Fahrenheit/288 degrees Celsius) and 2 tablespoons of butter. I choose to use more butter because the butter will brown and provide a crust which holds a lot of flavor for your steak. You’ll see YouTube videos where people drop whole cloves of garlic, sprigs of thyme, and other spices into the pan and hold the pan at an angle to use the juices to “baste” the steak. I totally condone said behavior – I just don’t always do it. Sometimes, hunger decides I don’t need to be fancy, just efficient.
Once you get the desired crust on the first side – which should only take you 30-40 seconds – flip the steak over and sear the second side. Once your other side is seared – you can plate and enjoy. The major key for reverse searing, is that you don’t have to wait and let the meat “rest” after it’s finished searing.
Any further questions/concerns? Let me know! Feel free to comment! Let me know how your steak worked out for you! #willtravelforsteak #kidding