Column: Reverse Sear
September 29, 2021
In my humble opinion, there isn’t much better to eat than a perfectly cooked steak.
I always love trying a steakhouse while traveling and love to throw one on the grill during the summertime.
We don’t have steak too often at the house, but there are no complaints from anyone and rarely any leftovers whenever we do.
During Labor Day weekend, I had family members come to the area, and they rented a house. I did most of the cooking, and one day we decided to have steak. The rental only had a very tiny charcoal grill, and I was a bit intimidated figuring out how I would be cooking for nine people with my cast iron skillet.
I prefer the finished product in the cast iron but thought I might be cooking all night, only able to cook two steaks at once. Yes, I could have used another pan, but it is just not the same as a seasoned cast iron skillet that has cooked hundreds of steaks.
It was starting to get hot in the house, and I was sweating from a combination of the heat and realizing I might be standing over the stove until next Labor Day finishing up steaks.
After a few cold beers to cool down, I remembered that I had once tried out a cooking method called “reverse sear,” and it worked out well. I knew right away this would be the perfect idea to feed everyone without too much effort.
I’ll be honest, the first time I read about the “reverse sear”, I was skeptical. There was no way I would “bake” my steak before finishing it in a pan. I blew off this nonsense and continued to use my tried-and-true methods. A few years later, a friend mentioned the reverse sear and said it was the only way he cooks a steak now.
The guy is one heck of a cook, so I gave it a shot, and I was not disappointed.
Fast forward a few years later, I decided to utilize the method to feed the nine of us.
I grew up eating at a steakhouse named Ted’s in Wyoming, and they were known for their “Hawaiian Style” marinade. I make something similar to their recipe using soy sauce, fresh garlic, Worcestershire, and pepper. It’s not a long marinade, just 30 minutes or so while the steak comes to room temperature. Cooking a cold steak does not produce the same results as sitting out for a while.
After warming the oven up to 225 degrees, I put the steaks on several cookie sheets and baked them for 25 minutes. I flip the steaks and cook and put them back in for another 20 minutes. Some people who have not heard of this method could be getting a little nervous, but I promise it is worth it.
Once the steaks are out of the oven, I get the cast iron to a high temperature and get a ton of butter and a little bit of garlic. When the pan was screaming hot, I threw the steaks in at two minutes per side while butter/garlic basting the entire time.
I finished nine steaks in 20 minutes with a four-minute cook time, and they came out a perfect medium-rare.
If people wanted their steak a little more done, you would add 30 seconds to a minute more a side for medium. If someone wanted a well-done steak, you should not cook them a steak.
The reverse sear works on the grill too, but you don’t get the magic of a butter baste.
I actually like the crust this produces because I can turn the heat up a little higher than if I cooked the entire time in the pan.
Even if it sounds out of your comfort zone, it is worth the try at least once.