steak cooks low and slow, at 225 degrees, in the oven
until the middle reaches 110 degrees. Then it's
browned in a hot skillet, while being basted with
butter to help promote the browning.
steak outside? Thatís easy. Get the grill as hot as
possible, toss the meat on and cook until done. But attempt
that same stunt indoors, and youíll smoke out your family
and any immediate neighbors. Sure, you could turn the heat
down, though then you risk either ending up with a sad, gray
piece of meat devoid of an evenly browned crust or a steak
that is horribly overdone.
condo dweller without easy access to an outdoor grill, Iíve
tried a number of different methods, from using electric
grills and grill pans to placing multiple fans around my
kitchen to help direct the smoke out the window. Usually, my
family just sits down to dinner in a haze of vaporized beef
fat so thick we can hardly see one another.
out I was thinking about it all wrong. Instead of worrying
about what to do with an excess of smoke, what if I used a
method that keeps the high-heat cooking to the shortest
amount of time possible?
the deal with the reverse sear, a method of cooking thick
steaks that is contrary to two long-held, though entirely
false, pieces of steak-cooking lore. No doubt, youíre
heard that searing "seals in the juices," even
though thatís been disproved by just about every food
authority over the past 30 years, including by renowned food
scientist Harold McGee. And Iím guessing some questionable
uncle instructed you to only flip a steak once.
going to do the opposite. Instead, gently cook the steak
until nearly done in a very low oven, and then sear it
quickly at the end, flipping every 30 seconds. This method
is called the reverse sear, and itís been popularized by
J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, the chief culinary consultant at Serious
Eats, and Chicagoís Meathead Goldwyn, whose cookbook,
"Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and
Grilling," I consulted for this recipe.
how it works. Heat the oven to 225 degrees. Place a large
steak on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet, and
then set it in the oven. Cook until the steak is 115 degrees
in the middle, or about 20 degrees shy of medium-rare. How
long this takes depends on the size of your steak, but it
usually takes me at least 50 minutes. This is a slight pain,
but nothing compared with too much smoke.
out of the oven, the steak looks miserable and gray. But youíre
not done. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add a
tablespoon of oil, and as soon as it starts to smoke, add
the beef. Instead of leaving it be, flip it every 30
seconds, or until the interior registers around 130 degrees
for medium rare, about two minutes total. To help improve
the browning even more, toss in some butter, and baste the
steak lovingly with a spoon. There will be some smoke, but
itíll all be over quickly.
advantages of the reverse sear are easy to see. The steak
will develop a stunningly browned exterior, without a spot
of gray. Cut in, and instead of a thick band of gray meat
around the exterior, the steak is mostly rosy pink from top
words of warning. This recipe only works with big steaks,
the kind that are at least 1 1/2 inches and up to 2 inches
thick, and which weigh about 2 pounds. I went with a bone-in
rib-eye, which was more than enough to split with my wife
and have some left over for a light lunch the next day. And
you wonít be able to measure the steakís internal
temperature without a good meat thermometer, preferably an
instant-read digital thermometer. Itís the only way to
ensure you never overcook a steak again.
1 hour and 10 minutes
adapted from Meathead Goldwynís method for the grill in
his book, "Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and
Grilling" (Rux Martin, $35).
bone-in rib-eye steak, 1 1/2 inch to 2 inches thick, about 2
tablespoon canola oil
ground black pepper
you have the time, liberally sprinkle salt on both sides of
the beef, transfer meat to a wire rack set on a baking
sheet, and then place in the fridge. Let rest for at least
an hour. If you donít have time, just salt the meat
thoroughly on both sides right before cooking, and place
meat on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
Heat oven to 225 degrees. Place the baking sheet in the
oven. Cook until the middle registers 115 degrees. Using a
digital meat thermometer, check the meat every 10 to 15
minutes. The total time depends on the thickness of the
steak, but plan for 45 to 55 minutes. Once the temperature
reaches 100 degrees, plan to check the temperature every 5
minutes, so you donít overcook the steak. When it has
reached 115 degrees, remove steak from oven.
Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until
just starting to smoke. Add the steak and butter. Carefully
spoon the melted butter over the steak. Flip the steak after
30 seconds. Continue spooning the butter and flipping the
steak every 30 seconds, until the steak has been in the pan
for 2 minutes. Remove the steak and check the temperature.
If itís 125 to 130 degrees, set it aside on a clean plate
to rest. If not, return it to the pan for an additional
minute of basting, flipping halfway through.
the steak rest, 10 minutes. Cut the steak into thick slices,
season with black pepper and an additional pinch of salt.
Divide between two plates and serve.