Perfect Your Steak Game with Reverse Sear: A Complete Guide

Imagine sinking your teeth into a perfectly cooked steak, one with a crispy exterior and a juicy, tender interior. Reverse searing, an ingenious culinary technique, turns the conventional approach to steak preparation upside down, achieving what many would call the pinnacle of gastronomic excellence. Embarking on this exploration, you’re about to unravel the intricacies of reverse searing hefty slabs of beef, grasping the importance of selecting an optimal thickness and discovering that a gradual warm-up in the oven followed by a fiery finish in a skillet is pivotal for achieving culinary brilliance. Chef Simon Gault covers everything from selecting your cut to those final touches that transform good into unforgettable. So buckle up; by the end of this journey, you’ll not only master the technique but also understand why every step is crucial for creating an exquisite steak at home.

Table Of Contents:

The Art of Reverse Searing Steak

Imagine transforming a thick cut of steak into an unforgettable meal. Reverse searing is this ingenious culinary trick that totally upends the usual way of cooking, ensuring your steak turns out flawlessly cooked each time.

Understanding Reverse Searing

The reverse sear method starts in the oven and finishes in a pan. You slowly heat your steak at low temperatures before giving it a final sear for that irresistible crust. This process not only ensures even cooking but also keeps those juicy flavours locked in.

Employing this method, especially with heftier slices such as Tomahawk, Ribeye, Scotch fillet, Porterhouse, or T-bone steaks, truly elevates the culinary experience. Their size makes them ideal candidates for this slow-and-low approach followed by high-heat finishing.

To master this art form, Simon Gault’s video 👨‍🍳 Master Chef’s Ultimate Guide to Perfect Reverse Seared Ribeye – Juicy & Crusty! 🥩🔥 provides an insightful guide. The goal? A mouth-watering crust with tender meat inside.

Selecting the Perfect Cut

Picking the right steak is crucial. Thickness matters because thinner cuts can’t withstand the low and slow warming without overcooking by the time they hit the pan.

A good rule of thumb is to look for steaks at least 4 cm (about 1½ inches) thick—anything less may not benefit as much from reverse searing due to quicker cooking times both in and out of the oven.

Importance of Steak Thickness

Choosing the right steak for reverse searing isn’t just about picking any cut; it’s about finding one with enough thickness to stand up to this cooking method. Thicker cuts, like Tomahawk, Ribeye, Scotch fillet, Porterhouse, or T-bone are your best bets. Why? Because these cuts have the heft needed to absorb heat slowly in the oven without overcooking before they hit the pan for that final sear.

Reverse Sear

Mastering this method hinges on the meticulous balance of heat and timing. A thin steak would reach its desired internal temperature too quickly in the oven, leaving little room for error when you’re aiming for that perfect edge-to-edge medium rare or whatever your preference may be.

If you’re wondering where to find these thicker cuts of steak, your best bet is to visit your preferred butcher for a wide selection and the ideal thickness. In Auckland, my top recommendations are Mapari Meats and Drury Meats. Remember, we’re talking at least 4 cm (an inch and a half ) thick—anything less won’t give you the results you’re after with reverse searing.

Preparing Your Steak for Cooking

Tempering the Steak

To kick things off, tempering your steak is like letting it stretch its legs before a sprint. This means bringing it to room temperature which helps in more even cooking throughout. If you toss a cold steak on heat, the outside could burn while the inside remains too rare for most tastes. 

Room Temperature Resting: Place your steak on a wire rack above a tray and cover it. Allow it to rest at room temperature for at least 60 minutes. This technique promotes better air circulation around the steak, ensuring a more even and slightly quicker tempering process.

Quick Water Bath Tempering: If you’re pressed for time, consider a controlled water bath method. First, seal your steak in an airtight zip-lock bag. Then, prepare a water bath at approximately 25°C (77°F), which is just above room temperature. Submerge the steak for 15 to 20 minutes. This gentle approach warms the steak more quickly, shortening the tempering period.

Both approaches are designed to warm your steak slightly, facilitating a more uniform cooking process. Choose the method that best fits your time and cooking needs for a perfectly tempered steak.

 

Drying Before Seasoning

Next up, think of moisture as the arch-nemesis of a great sear. You’ll want to thoroughly dry your steak with paper towels before adding any seasoning. Why? Because water steam-fries your meat instead of searing it, leaving you with less flavour and no coveted crust.

Reverse Sear

This drying process makes sure that when your steak finally meets heat, it’s not messing around—it’s there to get beautifully browned and deliciously crusted without any steaming interference from excess moisture.

Oven Cooking Guidelines

Preheating and Cooking Temperatures

Gently cooking your steak in the oven is a game of patience and precision. First things first, preheat your oven to a low temperature between 93-135°C (200-275°F). The art of slow-cooking your steak is key, as it ensures that the entire cut reaches a uniform level of doneness.

Adopting a slower pace in the kitchen by using low heat might feel odd, especially if cranking up the temperature is your go-to method. But trust me, for thick cuts like tomahawk or ribeye recommended for reverse searing, this gentle warmth works wonders. It’s about setting up that perfect stage where the inside gets tender without overcooking before we even think about searing.

Reverse Sear

Target Internal Temperatures for Doneness

Once your steak has basked in the oven’s warm embrace, its internal temperature will tell you when it’s time for the next step. Here’s what you’re aiming for: rare starts at 120°F (49°C), medium-rare at 130°F (54°C), medium hits at 140°F (60°C), medium-well at 150°F (65°C), and well-done caps off at 160°F+ (71°C).

Understanding Carryover Cooking

It’s important to remember the phenomenon of carryover cooking. Even after being removed from the oven, your steak will continue to cook due to residual heat, potentially raising the internal temperature by 5-10C (40-50F. This is crucial to consider when aiming for the perfect doneness. Therefore, removing your steak from the heat before it reaches the target temperature is advisable, allowing carryover cooking to bring it to the ideal point. This ensures your steak achieves the desired doneness without the risk of overcooking.

To nail these temperatures every time, I can’t stress enough how much a reliable digital thermometer or wireless meat thermometer helps. By checking periodically towards the end of cooking time, you ensure not just safety but perfection on a plate. Remembering these target temps lets us pull our steaks out right on cue – ready for that glorious sear.

Reverse Sear

Resting and Searing Techniques

Resting After Oven Cooking

If you think skipping the rest period after pulling your steak out of the oven is no big deal, think again. Resting for about 20 minutes lets those precious juices redistribute throughout the meat. This means every bite is as juicy and flavourful as possible.

Skipping this could mean all your hard work ends up as nothing more than dry bites on a plate.

The reason behind this magic? It gives time for fibers in the meat to relax and reabsorb some of the moisture they lost during cooking. 

Achieving the Perfect Sear

Now, onto my favorite part: turning that gentle brown exterior into an irresistible crusty char without overcooking what lies beneath. The secret weapon here is preheating your cast-iron skillet until it’s very hot—a crucial step for achieving that perfect sear.

Reverse Sear

You’ll want to arm yourself with extra virgin olive oil, garlic butter, and fresh herbs—this trio will elevate not just flavour but also aroma from the aromatics.

The goal? To create a Maillard reaction-rich crust that provides complexity and depth to each mouthful while locking in moisture. 

Here’s how to do it:

Preheat the Cast-Iron Skillet: Begin by heating your cast-iron skillet on high until it’s very hot. This step is essential for achieving a sear that locks in the steak’s juices and flavour.

Prepare Ingredients: Assemble your flavouring agents—extra virgin olive oil, crushed garlic cloves, butter, and fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, or sage. These will add depth of flavour and aroma to the steak.

Sear the Steak: Lightly coat the hot skillet with olive oil, then add the crushed garlic cloves and herbs. Place your steak in the skillet; the sizzle signals the start of the crust formation.

Add Flavours: Flip the steak to sear the other side. Add butter to the skillet and baste the steak with the melted butter and herb mixture to infuse it with rich flavours.

 

Finishing Touches for an Exquisite Steak

Final Resting Period

Think of the final rest as the encore at a rock concert. It’s not just waiting around; it’s about letting those juicy flavours settle in. After searing your steak to golden perfection, give it some downtime off the heat for 5-10 minutes. This isn’t idle time—it allows the juices that have been excitedly moving around during cooking to redistribute throughout the meat.

This resting period is crucial because it makes every bite as delicious as possible. If you slice into your steak too soon, those flavorful juices will end up on your plate instead of in each mouthful where they belong.

Slicing Against the Grain

You’ve patiently waited through the resting period, and now it’s showtime—slicing time. Here’s where technique really matters: always slice against the grain. But what does that mean? Look closely at your steak, and you’ll see tiny lines running through it—that’s “the grain” of the meat.

Slicing perpendicular to these lines breaks up muscle fibers making each piece melt-in-your-mouth tender. Imagine trying to chew a rubber band left whole versus cut into small pieces; slicing against the grain offers a similar effect but with much tastier results.

Remembering these steps ensures that every steak you serve is not just good but unforgettable—a true masterpiece from first bite to last.

Reverse Sear

FAQs in Relation to Reverse Sear

How do you do a reverse sear?

Start by slowly cooking your steak in an oven at low heat. Then, finish it off with a quick sear on a hot pan for that perfect crust.

What is the point of reverse-searing a steak?

This method ensures even cooking inside and delivers a fantastic crust outside. It’s ideal for thick cuts, making every bite juicy and tender.

What are the disadvantages of reverse sear?

The process takes longer than traditional methods and requires precise temperature control to avoid overcooking or undercooking the steak.

How long does it take to reverse sear a steak at 110°C (230

°F)?

Cooking time varies based on thickness but expect about 45 minutes to an hour for most steaks to reach perfect doneness at  110°C (230°F).

Conclusion

Mastering the reverse sear is your ticket to steak nirvana. By employing this technique, you’re guaranteed a steak that’s succulent on the inside and delightfully crunchy on the outside every single time.

Pick thick cuts like tomahawk or ribeye for best results. Let them come to room temperature, dry thoroughly, then season well.

Gently cook in a low-temperature oven before searing in a hot pan with garlic, butter, and herbs. Remember, understanding carryover cooking and resting is key – both post-oven and post-sear.

Slice against the grain for maximum tenderness. Now you’re not just cooking; you’re crafting unforgettable meals at home.

So go ahead and embrace these steps. Make each meal better than the last because perfection lies in practice and patience when it comes to reverse sear.

To discover more, explore my cooking classes at Gault’s Deli.

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