How To Reverse Sear A Steak

How To Reverse Sear A Steak

A very large and thick steak is an impressive piece of meat. But also difficult to cook just right, if you do not know how. 

What you want is a steak that is perfectly cooked medium-rare with a dark brown crust. In a lot of old cookbooks, you are always told to sear a steak first and then let it cook slowly until the desired doneness is reached. The result is too often that you had a beautifully cooked steak on the outside, and the inside goes from well-done to just cold. 

This has to be done better! And if you ask us, the solution is to reverse sear thick steaks.  

The Reversed Sear Method

In the 1980s, an oven for steak restaurants was introduced that could be kept at a very constant 48°C. A large number of steaks were then put in there, which you could take out at any time so that they could be grilled on a hot grill. This saved a lot of time and the chef was always assured of perfect cooking of his steaks.

Around 2000, this way of cooking became known to home cooks as reversed sear through books by Alton Brown and Heston Blumenthal. You would think that if these heroes explain that this way of cooking works very well, you can take that as truth. Yet the fable of searing the meat is still enthusiastically passed on by many important chefs.

What Are The Benefits of a Reversed Sear?

Instead of grilling the steak at a high temperature until the desired doneness, you can prepare thick steaks at a low temperature indirectly on the grill.

Due to the slow cooking and dry air in the barbecue, the surface of the meat dries out, giving it a nicer crust when grilling. The low even heat also allows for better cooking control and protects the steak from overheating.

A Good Meat Thermometer is Indispensable with the Reverse Sear Cooking Method

The best way to cook thick steaks is using the reverse sear cooking method, and by measuring the core temperature. For that, you need a great meat thermometer that measures the coldest spot inside the steak.

In cooking you need these temperatures for the different doneness of the meat:

Rare: 50°C
Medium rare: 55°C
Medium: 60°C

With the reversed sear method you ensure that the meat is first gently cooked to about 5 degrees below the desired doneness. With very thick steaks maybe 8 to 10 degrees below.

If you want to know more about the different cooking temperatures in meat, then take a look at our article How to Cook the Perfect Steak.

Cooking With The CookPerfect Meat Thermometer

The CookPerfect meat thermometer measures the temperature in 5 places simultaneously along the entire length of the probe. The advantage with this is that you know the doneness over the entire thickness and that you do not have to pay attention to where the needle is inserted in the meat. As long as the needle is all the way into the meat and not sticking out the other side.

The needle has a visible edge that indicates how far the needle should be inserted into the meat. As long as you don't see the needle coming out the other side, you're good.

How To Cook A Thick Cut Steak With The Reversed Sear Method? 

Always buy a good piece of meat! Our philosophy is that it pays better to buy higher quality meat in the long run, and then eating less of it. Also, do not expect miracles with the cheapest steak you can find. Talk to your butcher about which meat to use in order to get the best results.  

You also need a barbecue with a lid along with your meat thermometer. The barbecue can be a simple kettle barbecue that lets you do indirect cooking. 

The goal is to get the steak to about 45-48°C with an indirect heat of about 120-130°C. Especially with steaks that have larger areas of fat, we recommend this way of going about the reverse sear. Insert the meat thermometer and set the CookPerfect app to a core temperature of 45°C.

The next step is resting. Wrap the steak with a layer of aluminum foil and let it rest for a while.

Making The Sear

You want to grill the meat as hot as possible so that you quickly get a nice crust. If you do this at a low temperature, it will take too long and there is a good chance that you will get a so-called bullseye effect with a gray edge of flesh on the outside.

A great way to quickly grill a steak is using a cast-iron skillet. Cast iron can retain heat for a long time. So once it's hot it has a great surface to grill with.

Pat the steak dry with some kitchen paper. The crust will form better and faster on a dry surface without the surface moisture having to evaporate. Place a knob of butter on the skillet and wait until it has melted. Now you can put your steak on it.

Let the steak rest for a minute before flipping it. If the crust is not to your liking, you should leave it for another 15 to 30 seconds. 

Extra Info!

The reversed sear does not just work with steaks. 

Chicken also cooks much better with a reversed sear. Try it with chicken wings. First, slowly cook to a core temperature of 68 degrees - then sear it! This way you get a nice grilled chicken wing where you suck all the meat off the bone. 

Try it with many kinds of meat and see the results. Just always remember to Cook to temperature - not by time!