Reverse Sear: The Secret to Perfect Steaks & Roasts

I want to share with you a magical technique for getting steaks and roasts to come out perfectly - juicy centers with a nice crusty sear on the outside. I used this twice over the holidays and it worked to perfection.

The classic way to cook a steak or a roast is to sear it first and then turn the heat down to cook the inside. For steaks this can involve searing on a hot pan and then moving to the oven at lower heat, or searing over the coals on a grill and then moving to the cool side of the grill to finish. For roasts this usually means putting it in a hot oven for 15-20 minutes and then turning the oven down to finish cooking the roast.

I have tried all of these methods and it is very difficult to get the right sear without overcooking the meat inside. Or sometimes undercooking the core of the meat. It has always been a challenge to time the second phase correctly.

The solution is brilliantly simple: just reverse the order of the cooking process.

The Reverse Sear method starts with slow cooking the meat to the proper internal temperature, which is on the rare side of done. Then you let it rest for 10-15 minutes to let the juices flow back to the core of the meat. Once the meat has rested you sear on high heat to get the outside where you want it and serve it. No need to let it rest again. Simple - and it works every time.

Over the holidays I made two dinners which used this technique:

  1. I roasted a semi-boneless leg of lamb. To start, I put it in an oven set to 250 degrees and cooked it until the internal temperature was 120-125. Once the target temperature was reached I took it out of the oven and let it rest for 20-30 minutes. I then put it back into the oven which was pre-heated to 500 degrees and cooked it for an additional 15 minutes. The result was a perfect medium-rare roast with a nice crust.
  2. For our New Year dinner I splurged on some filet mignon from The Chop Shop. (A bit extravagant I know, but hey, this is a once a year deal.) With steaks as precious as this I surely didn't want to dry them out. So I put them in a 250 degree oven until they reached an internal temperature of 109 degrees. I let them rest for 15 minutes and then put them in a super hot fry pan to put the crust on them. After 2-3 minutes per side I served the steaks. They were awesome - like something you would get at a high end steakhouse.

I encourage you to try this method. You will need a good thermometer to monitor the temperature as you slow cook the meat. And this method works equally well on the grill as it does  in the oven.

Happy Cooking!

Michael Liss