The reverse sear. I first heard about a chef friend who suggested I try it. He explained with great enthusiasm how it worked and how amazing the steak would be. This was via text, as is with chefs, and he was USING ALL CAPS. So, immediately tried it and it was great, but then I’d be in a hurry (read: very, very hungry) and I’d end up doing my old way: first in the skillet on top of the stove, then quickly finished in the oven. And it wasn’t nearly as good. Why?
First the fact that you put the steak on a cooling rack over a baking sheet/pan and let it air out for a while, helps you get a nice crust on it when you cook it. Also, you rub salt all over the steaks before you let them air dry — that is essentially dry brining. This is your friend.
Also, cooking it slow and low, allows the meat to cook gradually and more evenly overall.
Watch this video before you start if you’re a little unsure or scared. I was.
With a little lead time and following the instructions below to the letter (read more and geek out with Kenji and Daniel at Serious Eats), you will be very happy. Promise.
REVERSE SEARED STEAK
Ribeye or NY strip steaks (or other thick cuts, at least 1″ thick, bone-in preferred)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil (or any oil without strong flavor)
4 tablespoons butter
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 sprigs of rosemary or thyme
Wire cooling rack
Rimmed baking sheet
Cast iron skillet
Deep, large spoon (for basting)
Room in your fridge (I think this is important to know ahead of time!)
1 – Preheat oven to 225. Unwrap steaks and dry them off really well with paper towels. Generously add salt and pepper to all sides of the steaks. Place steaks on a wire baking rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and let them air dry in your fridge for a few hours.
2 – Cook steaks on middle rack of the oven until they reach roughly 10 degrees lower than you want them to end up. So, for me…I like mine finished around 130 or a little less, so I take mine out at 115/120. This usually takes about 20-25 minutes depending on your oven and the size of your steaks.
3 – Place a cast iron skillet on a large burner on your stove and set heat to medium-high. Do this right before the steaks are done in the oven. Add oil. When the skillet just begins to smoke, add your steaks, then the butter, garlic and herbs. You should hear and see a sizzle. Do not crowd the pan with steaks. (ps. This gets a little messy for your stovetop.) Cook on first side for about 2 minutes and leave it alone – no touching. Turn the steaks over. Using an oven mitt or thick kitchen towel, use the skillet handle to tilt the skillet to create a little pool of butter and aromatics. Using a large metal spoon, baste the sizzling butter up on the steaks. Here is a helpful video. Turn the heat down a little if you think the steaks may be cooking quickly or the garlic might burn.
4 – Get a quick temperature read from your digital thermometer. Don’t turn the steaks again or do anything more unless you feel like they are very undercooked. (After you do this cooking process a few times, you will get a feel for it.) Since cooking times can vary a lot, keep an eye on your temp. You can always throw them back in the pan if the steaks are underdone. Overdone steaks make me sad.
5 – Once they are at an ideal temp for you, transfer steaks from skillet to a cutting board. If you want, add another tablespoon of butter to each steak as they rest. With reverse searing, you don’t need to rest your steaks very long since you cooked the meat a low temp first.
It took me three or four times to get this really right. Practice! And get the best steaks you can afford. I love the butchers at Eddie’s of Roland Park and John Brown Butchery. I also highly recommend buying directly from wonderful local farmers like Liberty Delight Farms in Reisterstown and Grand View Farm in Forest Hill (near Fallston), both of which offer home delivery or in-person pick up at various times. Liberty Delight also has stands at area farmers markets in Baltimore and DC. Message them and they can have specific cuts ready for you to pick up. A few friends have recommended Harris Teeter because they have Prime cuts and I have also had good luck at Wegman’s.