The Recipe

Preheat oven to 250-275F, pat the steak dry, insert a thermometer probe into the middle, place in the oven.

steak and probe
steak with a probe inserted

This is the most complicated step of this recipe. Pat the steak dry with a paper towel.

Next, you will need a probed thermometer of some sort. That way you can pull the steak out when you hit the desired temperature.  You can use a regular meat thermometer and test the steak but that will require you test the steak at regular intervals to prevent overcooking., due to variations in starting meat temperature, oven strength, size of the steak, elevation etc.

I can’t predict how long it will take to get your meat up to the right temperature. It is literally done when it’s done. The best investment I ever made was to buy a Polder thermometer probe.  I cook almost everything with this thing to ensure perfect doneness without any overcooking.

Probe

Can I cook without it? I sure can. I did for many years and still do today. But using the probe ensures less variation and mistakes when grilling or cooking meat. Buy it. Use it. Polder is the best in my opinion because of the functions (you can set the alarm to go off at any temperature) and that they sell replacement probes. Probes go bad so just replacing the probe instead of the whole unit will save you money. So go head over to Amazon and go search for one.

So, insert your probe so that it’s in the direct middle of the steak.  Note the starting temperature of the meat. Place the steak on a rack on a cookie sheet. If you don’t have one, and don’t mind placing meat directly on your oven racks you can do that as well (place a tray below to catch any fat or juices).

Place steak into preheated oven.

When steak hits 95F internally, remove steak immediately for medium rare.

The steak should look dry, almost beef jerky like on the outside. This is a good thing.

The steak after the oven. It should look dry.
The steak after the oven. It should look dry.

If you prefer a medium rare steak, 95F is when you need to pull the steak. Everyone has their own definition of medium rare. For me, medium rare is red throughout but with a warm (almost hot) center. It’s right before the meat starts to turn pink.  To me, pink or light red is a medium steak. If you prefer your steak cooked differently, use the following guide:

85F     –           Rare

95F     –           Medium Rare

105F   –           Medium

If you prefer your steak cooked more than medium delete or burn this report and never look at it again. Unlike my Facebook page while you’re at it.

When your probe says you’re within 10-15F of your desired pull temperature, start heating up a heavy skillet. The skillet can be cast iron, aluminum clad with steel (All-Clad), copper, whatever. Make sure it’s heavy and not thin. Even non-stick although with non-stick be careful with overheating it.

A medium hot flame should be used. Not hot, but just a notch above medium. This is important. Err on the side of lower heat here. We can fix an undercooked steak; you can’t fix an overcooked steak.

Apply seasonings, cook on medium hot skillet 1.5 minutes each side

steak in a skillet

Once the steak hits 95F (for medium rare), pull the steak from the oven immediately.  The surface of the steak should be dry, almost beef jerky looking. This is a great thing.

Ok now apply your other seasonings. You don’t have to rush, but be as quick as possible so the steak does not lose temperature.

I make all my steak rubs without salt so I can add as much or as little as I want without fear of over-salting the steak.

Start simple. Freshly ground black pepper. You can add a little garlic and/or onion powder. Maybe some dried herbs, or fresh chopped rosemary for a very fragrant smell (I love rosemary on steaks). I’ll offer some excellent steak rub recipes later but for now I want you focus on the process of cooking the perfect steak. You might need to press the seasoning in with the back of the spoon since the steak should be fairly dry when you take it out of the oven.

Ok, onto a medium-hot skillet. 1.5 minutes each side. Use a timer. 1.5 minutes flip. 1.5 minutes pull.

Let the steak rest.

Place steak on a cooling rack (you can use the rack and cookie sheet from earlier). Let rest 5-10 minutes. As you cook a piece of meat there is a lot of stress placed on the meat fibers and when you cut it, all the juices will spill out. If you let the meat rest a few minutes the fibers are less stressed and less juice will be lost to the plate.

THAT’S IT! Simple right? As simple as a 7 page recipe can be …

Remember, I wrote this report in great detail so you will have all the information you need to cook the perfect steak. Now that you’ve read it, and understand the why in each step, just remember, it’s as simple as 5 Steps:

1.      Choose the right cut of steak.

2.      Salt the steak one hour (or more) before cooking.

3.      Pat the steak dry, insert a thermometer probe, place the steak in a preheated 275F oven.

4.      Remove the steak when it hits 95F, sear on a medium-hot skillet, 1.5 minutes each side.

5.      Let rest 5-10 minutes.

If you already have your steak, you can even skip #1 and now it’s a 4 step recipe.

I can’t promise you will hit it out of the park the very first time. I’ve given you everything you need to do so, and if you follow each step perfectly I can all but guarantee you’ll have a great steak.

Once you adjust the recipe for your oven, cuts of meat, salt preference, etc. then you will become the steak guy or gal amongst your friends and family.

Now, why is this so complicated? You can certainly grill a steak the traditional way. 4 minutes on hot each side and then to the cool side of the grill (or in an oven) to finish. So why go through all of this? There are two main reasons.

FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS EAT GRAY MATTER.

No gray matter! Red from surface to surface.
No gray matter! Red from surface to surface.

When I want a medium rare steak, I want a medium rare steak. Ever notice on thick steaks when restaurants cook the traditional way (high heat sear at the beginning) that you get this GRAY MATTER? Guess what. Your medium rare steak is actually 50% well done. I call that Gray Matter. It’s well done and tough and dry. Who wants that? Not I.

If you go watch Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation episode on “techniques” you will find a section on steaks. I like Bourdain, and these episodes were well done (no pun intended) but I noticed their steak was terribly cooked.

I find it amusing an episode meant to correct cooking techniques displayed such bad technique. If you watch it, the cook says he cooks it for 24 minutes, 12 each side!

Anthony bourdain steak
This was on Anthony Bourdain’s show. Look at that murdered steak.

Look at it. Look at all that gray and pink matter on a “rare” steak. Blech. That episode actually inspired me to write this report. Bourdain is cursing Americans for “murdering” their steaks, while he proceeds to teach millions of Americans how to murder their steak.

Look at mine. Perfect from coast to coast.
Look at mine. Perfect from coast to coast.

So the #1 reason for doing it this way is to reduce the gray matter in your steak. The recipe accomplishes this in two ways.

When you pat dry the steak after the salt, and then put it in the oven, you notice how dry the steak looks when you go to pull the steak? This serves a purpose. When you put a wet steak onto a skillet you delay the searing process. Searing is what gives us that brown color and wonderful taste by the Maillard Reaction. If the steak is wet, the water prevents this because the steak will just steam at first.

Remember the chemistry experiment where water is placed into a paper cup and placed over a Bunsen burner? The cup didn’t burn because the heat being used to heat up and steam the water.

By placing the dry steak on the skillet the heat from the skillet immediately started browning the steak.

This allows us to shorten the cook time on the skillet. This recipe only calls for 1.5 minutes of high heat for each side. Most recipes call for 4-6 minutes each side before transferring to a low heat source. This recipe calls for 3 minutes for both sides! That’s less than half or a quarter of the time of traditional recipes.

Less time = less high heat applied to the meat. That’s how you achieve a perfect medium rare from surface to surface. Minimal gray matter is the goal.

POOR MANS DRY AGE

Aging steaks, whether dry or wet, is a topic for a different report. Let’s just say for now aging results in wonderful tasting steaks. Part of it is flavor, but part of it is tenderness.

Well the reverse sear accomplishes something similar. There are enzymes in the meat called Cathespins. These break down the meat fibers, enhancing tenderness. When heated, the enzymes go into overdrive, sort of like the Barry Bonds of enzymes. The problem with traditional cooking methods is, the heat rises so fast the enzymes don’t have time to work. They’re basically killed off in a couple minutes.

With a reverse sear, you’re pre-heating the steak in the oven for 30-45 minutes. That’s a long time for the Cathespins to work their magic. The pre-salt earlier also alters muscle fibers as well.

This results in a tender, flavorful, perfectly cooked steak.

So there you have it. The Perfect Steak Recipe. Again, I did not invent any of these steps. They existed long before I came around. However, as far as I know I’m the first to present them together in this way. And I readily share it with anyone who listens, because no one should suffer from a poorly cooked steak.

The Perfect Steak

About the Author:

The author is a self-professed steak snob, whose mission in life is to destroy all the terrible advice and myths perpetuated by celebrity chefs, social media bbq and grill experts, and story commenters who declare, “the best steak is the one I cook at home doing XYZ, my steak is better than all of the steak houses.” Read about rugby his exploits over at www.sdasf.org