STEAK: The Reverse Sear Method Explained
I don't know about you, but for years and years, when I made a steak I would put a pan on the stove to get it hot, take the steak out of the refrigerator and season it with some salt and pepper and then I would put a little extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO ) on it and plunk it down into the hot pan to sear it.
I'm not going to lie to you ... it always tasted great. But, nine times out of ten it would be tough and chewy no matter how much I paid for the steak. Honestly, this never bothered me because I thought it was just the way it is. Usually I just blamed it on the cut of meat.Then I learned a little about the science of what cooking meat actually does and I realized that it had been my own fault that I was eating such tough meat.
By hitting that poor piece of cold muscle tissue with a smoking hot pan, I was shocking the protein molecules in all those long muscle cells that make up the "grain" of the meat and causing them to rapidly shrivel down into shorter and much chewier fibers. This is known as coagulating the protein.
I had been violating the 2nd, and most important rule of cooking
There are only 2 rules in cooking...
Always cook with the best ingredients that you can afford
Try hard not to F%^& them up.
FUN FACT: Protein coagulation, in this case, is caused by heat and it is the reason that egg whites (albumen) start out clear and then turn white... the protein molecules shrink and pull together making the albumen opaque.
Cooking Meat Explained
The essence of cooking meat, or anything else for that matter, is to raise its internal temperature and then stop the process when the desired level of cooking has taken place. The more slowly you raise the internal temperature of the food, the more control you have over how it turns out. Coincidentally, in the case of meats, the longer you take to raise the temperature, the more tender the end result.
At this point I need to mention that to cook meat accurately, you really need a meat thermometer, preferably a digital one that gives a reading quickly. They call them Instant-Read thermometers. They cost between 10 and 100 dollars and the more you pay, the quicker they read and the more accurate the temp. You have to open the oven door to take a reading and you don't want to lose the oven's heat every time you check the meat, so the quicker it reads, the better off you will be. Mine cost about 15 bucks and it is fine for my needs.
Developed in the mid-2000's, the reverse sear method is, in essence, slowly cooking the steak on a low temperature in the oven first and then finishing it by searing it in a hot pan on the stove after the center is at the desired temperature. Here is my step by step method that soon will be your step by step method
Take the steak out of the fridge at least 45 minutes before you plan to cook it. Season it on both sides with salt and pepper, cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter until it comes up to room temperature. Don't worry... it won't spoil.
After about 35 minutes, pre-heat your oven to 225°F and put some aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven to catch the drippings. You are going to put the steak directly onto the center rack of the oven so this is just a precaution against having to clean your oven.
When the 45 minutes are up and the oven is at the right temperature, unwrap the seasoned steak(s) and put them on a plate to bring them over to the oven. Open the oven door, pull out the rack and place the steaks on the rack. Push the rack back in and close the oven door.
Go about your business making whatever you plan to eat along with the steak, but every 4 or 5 minutes you need to go over and check the internal temperature of the meat. Push the probe of the thermometer down into the steak until it is about at the center. Note the temperature.
Repeat STEP FOUR until the center temperature approaches your target temp. See the chart below for the range of temperatures .vs. the degree of "doneness". As it gets close, you should put a frying pan on the stove and set the knob to HIGH to get it ready. Electric stoves take longer than gas so I won't tell you how long you will need. When the steak hits your chosen temperature, it's time to go on to STEP SIX
** Notice that the top and bottom surfaces of the steak are the only part that is browned
Take the steaks out of the oven onto a plate. Put them into the HOT pan and monitor the browning process. If it doesn't start sizzling vigorously at this point then take them back out and wait until the pan is hotter.
Don't go off and do something else at this point because what this step is for is to put a nice, quick and crispy sear on the meat while not raising the internal temp and this happens very quickly. At this point you could easily break RULE #2 and F%^& up all the hard work of STEP 1 through 5
Sit down and enjoy the best cooked steak you ever made for yourself. If you followed the first six steps properly, you are sure to get compliments. And if you're eating alone ... well then it's too bad for everyone else.
Until the Next Time ... So Long from Bob's Diner
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