Reverse Sear Steak: A Culinary Technique for Perfect Results

If you’re an aficionado of perfectly cooked steak, the technique of “bake then sear steak,” or reverse sear, is a culinary method you must try. This approach allows you to cook your steak low and slow in the oven before finishing it off with a high-heat sear on the stovetop. The result? A steak with a beautifully even internal temperature and a delectable crust.

The Reverse Sear Technique Explained

The reverse sear method starts with baking your steak in a low-temperature oven. The gentle heat gradually raises the internal temperature of the meat, ensuring that it cooks evenly throughout. This is particularly advantageous when you’re working with thicker cuts of steak, which can be challenging to cook through without burning the exterior.

Once the steak reaches a few degrees below your desired level of doneness, it’s time to move it to a hot skillet. Searing the steak at high heat develops a rich, caramelized crust that’s packed with flavor. This contrast between the tender, juicy interior and the crisp exterior is what steak dreams are made of.

Selecting Your Steak

Before you begin the reverse sear process, selecting the right cut of steak is essential. Look for thicker cuts like ribeye, porterhouse, or New York strip, which benefit most from this cooking method. The thickness should be at least 1.5 inches to ensure that the steak doesn’t overcook during the searing phase.

Preparing Your Steak for the Oven

Preheat your oven to a low temperature, around 225-275°F (107-135°C). While the oven is warming, season your steak generously with salt and pepper. Some aficionados also like to add other herbs and spices at this stage, but salt and pepper are the foundational flavors.

Place the steak on a wire rack over a baking sheet to allow air circulation. This setup mimics the dry-aging process, which helps to develop a more concentrated flavor and a desirable texture.

bake then sear steak

Baking Your Steak

Once your oven is ready, place the steak inside and bake until it’s about 10-15°F (5-8°C) below your target temperature. For medium-rare, aim for an internal temperature of 120-125°F (49-52°C) before searing. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature accurately.

The Searing Finale

When your steak is nearing the desired internal temperature, heat a heavy skillet over high heat. You can use a cast-iron skillet for the best results. Add a high-smoke-point oil like canola or grapeseed oil to the pan. Once the oil is shimmering and just about to smoke, carefully place your steak in the pan.

Sear the steak for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until a deep golden-brown crust forms. For added flavor, toss in a couple of tablespoons of butter along with fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary and some garlic cloves. Baste the steak with this aromatic butter as it sears.

Letting Your Steak Rest

After searing, transfer your steak to a cutting board and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing. Resting allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring your steak is succulent and flavorful down to the last bite.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Even with a technique as reliable as the reverse sear, issues can arise. If you find that your steak is cooking too quickly in the oven, lower the temperature slightly. Conversely, if the crust isn’t forming during the sear, make sure your pan is hot enough and that you’re using an oil with a high smoke point.

By mastering the reverse sear, you elevate your steak-cooking game to new heights. This method takes the guesswork out of preparing steak and delivers consistently outstanding results. Give it a try, and you may never go back to your old ways of cooking steak.

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