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Cooking steaks over high heat to achieve a golden crust and a perfectly pink interior isn’t new. But what if there was an even better method than the traditional sear-then-bake technique? The drawback to searing first is that by the time the meat cooks through in the oven, the crisp crust has softened. Reverse searing achieves the same tender meat and great crust, but reverses the steps so you end with searing and maintain that great crust. Here’s how to do it.
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Step 1. Pat steaks dry with paper towels.
The reasoning here is straightforward: The more moisture that is on the surface of the steak, the harder it is to get a good sear. Jumpstart your crust by making sure the surface of the steak is as free from excess moisture as possible. Blot all surfaces, including sides, with paper towels just before seasoning the steak.
Step 2. Salt steaks liberally over entire surface.
A generous amount of salt and pepper is key to properly seasoning a steak. Use kosher salt (rather than table salt) when seasoning meat. Its larger grains distribute more easily and cling well to the meat’s surface. Finish up with a couple of good turns of freshly ground pepper. Finally, be sure to distribute the salt on all surfaces, including the sides. Curious to know more about kosher salt? Learn more about it in the Cooking School’s All About Spices class.
Step 3. Warm your steaks in 275-degree oven.
That’s right, start your steaks in the oven. As part of the reverse searing method, the steaks spend time in a low oven warming up. Place them on a sheet pan with a rack insert (for all-around air flow) and cook until they reach an internal temperature of approximately thirty degrees below your desired degree of doneness. (A great instant-read thermometer is helpful for taking the guesswork out of knowing when to pull the steak from the oven.)
By warming your steaks in a low oven then searing them in a hot pan, you get the best of both worlds. The low heat of the oven ensures the steaks cook gently and evenly (spreading them out on a rack in a sheet pan for maximum air circulation is key here). It also gives your crust an advantage thanks to the dry heat of the oven, which promotes a great crust quickly, so you won’t have to keep your steaks in the skillet for too long, risking overcooking.
Tip 4. Sear the steaks.
Get your oil hot and brown steaks on all—yes, all—sides for about a minute each. The result is a perfectly cooked steak with a satisfying and flavorful crust.