How to reverse sear a perfect steak? I’m going to show you how in this blog post. Its alternative title: “Make Better Meat.”
I’m betting when you’re doing reading this, you’ll want to go reverse sear a big ol’ piece of meat, then revel in how awesome it comes out.
Here’s what normally happens when most people cook a steak:
- Heat up a pan.
- Put a steak in.
- Flip it 83 times.
- Poke it and pray.
- Cut into it while it’s still cooking (only to let all the precious juices flow out).
- Feign happiness because it’s overcooked and dry.
Why You Should Reverse Sear Steak
If you’re more advanced than that and you’ve got a good method locked down, that’s awesome! I have my technique for pan-frying the perfect steak in a cast iron skillet, and to be honest, with thinner steaks, it’s pretty fool-proof. But. When the meat gets thicker, you move into interesting territory.
You see, meat cuts like the tri-tip I used for this post, double-thickness ribeye, etc. are tricky because searing the outside then finishing in the oven (called pan-roasting) or even grilling can lead to unevenly cooked meat—crusted or charred on the outside with overcooked bits and a center that’s not done to your liking.
So, let’s start with the obvious question…
What is a Reverse Sear?
The concept is this:
Gently cook the meat in the oven until it reaches 10 degrees F under the doneness you’d like. You’ll need a meat thermometer for this. Then, let the meat rest for about 15 minutes to finish coming up to temperature and to allow the juices to redistribute. Finish by searing it in a screaming-hot pan with some ghee (I like this one) (or grill) for a few minutes on both sides. Done.
Here’s a quick chart of meat temperatures from What’s Cooking America:
The end result is a thicker cut of meat that’s evenly cooked to your liking yet still has a crusty, yummy outside. Brilliant, right?
I used a 2-1/2 pound tri-tip that I marinated for about 6 hours before cooking.
Here’s the method for how to reverse sear a perfect steak.
How To Reverse Sear a Perfect Steak
Learn how to reverse sear the perfect steak using this simple technique. You'll end up with evenly-cooked, juicy meat no matter the size!
- 1/2 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey optional
- 1.5 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- 2.5 lb tri-tip steak
- 2 tbsp ghee
Start about 6 hours before you plan to cook the meat.
In a large bowl, combine the lime juice, coconut aminos, olive oil, honey, salt, pepper and garlic. Add the meat and cover. Refrigerate for about 6 hours. Alternatively you could put the ingredients in a ziptop bag and marinate the meat that way in the fridge.
After about 6 hours, remove the meat from the fridge. Discard the marinade.
Preheat the oven to 300F. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper, then place an oven-safe metal cooling rack on top of that so that the meat will be elevated when baking.
Put the meat on the cooling rack and bake until the internal temperature reaches about 120F to 125F for medium-rare. You really will want a thermometer for this part so you don’t under- or overcook the meat. A 2-1/2 pound tri-tip took about 40 minutes in my oven but your time will vary depending on the size of the meat.
Remove the meat from the oven and allow it to rest for about 15 minutes. Pat the meat dry with paper towels. (If there is excess moisture on the outside, it’ll be harder to get a nice brown crust.)
Then, heat a skillet over high until it’s screaming hot. I like cast iron for this job. Add 2 tablespoons of ghee. I prefer ghee for this job because it has a very high smoke point. Place the meat in the skillet and sear both sides, about 2 minutes each, until a nice brown crust has formed.
Slice and serve. To properly slice a tri-tip, cut against the grain of the meat so you end up with tender pieces. Slicing with the grain of the muscle will make it chewy.
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Questions about the Reverse Sear Method? Leave them in the comments below!
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