The Perfect Seared Steak

steakAround the Fourth of July, some friends and I got into a discussion – okay, okay maybe I listened to the cooks of the group while housing a hot dog – about whether searing meat is really necessary. I admitted then – and now- I’m definitely not a cooking expert. My talent lays more so in the realm of bringing fork to mouth. So it’s no surprise that even after reading tutorial after tutorial and precariously balancing my phone against the toaster in an attempt to follow along with various Youtube videos, my home cooked steaks always seem to come out either too rare, too done, or just plain ugly.

Part of me wants to throw in the towel, but the other part of me still dreams about achieving that elusive crust. So I began to wonder, why the big deal over searing? Turns out, it’s all about the flavor, baby. Contrary to what some may tell you, searing does not lock in those heavenly juices, but that’s no reason not to sear!

When you place your piece of meat into that screaming hot pan, it instantly begins to caramelize, which will give you that rich flavor you find at your favorite restaurants. To add even more flavor, Shawn Wellersdick, of Port Land Grille recommends to “first season your steak with salt & pepper.” After you’ve done this, it’s time to put the meat in the pan. Shawn then says “sear each side two to three minutes and then place the entire pan (as long it’s oven safe) into a 425 degree oven. Cook to your desired temperatures and let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting.”

So the pros seem to be all about the pre-sear, but there were a couple of people in the group that were fans of the reverse sear. In this particular method that breaks with tradition, you roast your steak to the appropriate temperature and then finish with the sear. Advocates claim that it’s a foolproof way to ensure an even, warm pink center.

Matt Kahrs, Executive Chef at Port City Chop House, isn’t convinced. “Meat should always be seared before roasting in the oven. It begins to melt the fat so that it can run through the muscle as it cooks. The only exception would be with meat cooked sous vide. The meat would then be cooked in the vacuum bag to the desired doneness, and then removed from the bag and seared just before serving.”

Let’s be honest here, I doubt I’ll be attempting the sous vide method any time soon, but it might be time to try the sear again seeing as how last week’s grocery specials helped me score a pair of nice, marbled rib eyes. If you want to give it a shot yourself, here’s a step by step that I’m going to try. Wish me luck!

  1. Heat either a stainless steel or cast iron pan with an oil that has a higher smoking point like vegetable oil.
  2. Pat the meat dry and season it with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the meat into the pan. There should be a sizzle as it makes contact with the oil.
  4. Don’t touch the meat! This is the hard part for me.
  5. After two to three minutes, the steak should easily lift from the pan. Flip the steak and sear that side.
  6. Place the pan in a 425 degree oven (thanks, Shawn!) until it reaches the desired temperature. For me, that’s 140 or medium rare.

Got any tips or tricks? Are you a fan of the reverse sear? Want to cook for me? Let us know in the comments!

Written by: Becky Starkey