The Reverse Sear

SUMMERTIME = GRILLING TIME. Sometimes there’s just nothing better than a perfectly grilled steak. While we have often used the reverse sear method in a cast-iron skillet on the stove top and in the oven, this season we finally started using it outside on our gas grill. It works so well for a perfectly medium-rare steak with a charred exterior, I doubt we’ll go back to the old way. We liken the process to a sous-vide without a sous-vide machine, or slow-cooking without the extensive time commitment.

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In food terminology, searing is a technique in which you cook the surface of the food over high heat in order to form a brown crust. Reverse sear refers to when you sear your meat in the cooking process. With a reverse-sear, you cook your steak over a low temperature first before giving it a final sear over high heat.

As far as the choice of meat, the ribeye, the perfect blend of taste and tenderness, is also one of the most forgiving steaks due to all of the marbling. You don’t want to go all-out miserly here, so go ahead and purchase one good steak per guest. You’ll need bone-in (preferable) or boneless ribeye (or T-bone) steaks at a minimum 1 1/4″-thick. Sprinkle steaks evenly with salt and pepper, set on a wire rack in a shallow pan. Chill uncovered in the fridge, 4 to 48 hours.

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Setting up your grill for the two-zone method:

GAS GRILL:

Light all burners to preheat the grill. Turn off the center burner to create a cool zone below steaks for indirect cooking. If your grill does not have a temperature gauge, use an oven thermometer to monitor the heat.

CHARCOAL GRILL:

Ignite briquettes (50-75 for a 22″ grill) with vents open. Once covered with ash, bank half the coals on opposite sides of the grate, leaving a cool zone in the middle for indirect cooking. Set rack in place.

Directions

  1. Prepare your grill for a two-zone fire (see above).
  2. Grill steaks indirectly in a closed grill. Try to keep the heat at 300°F. Like cooking in a low oven, the gentle heat moves slowly to the center of the steak without overcooking the outside.
  3. Pull steaks off the grill when they reach an internal temp of 100°F. They won’t look delicious yet, but don’t sweat it. Let them rest to redistribute juices while you stoke/adjust the fire.
  4. A good sear requires blistering heat of 450°-500°F. For a gas grill ignite the center burner and adjust heat to high.
  5. The final step is what develops the complex flavors we crave. Sear steaks over direct heat 4 to 5 minutes, turning often until well-browned and crusty and an instant-read thermometer reaches 130°F for medium-rare.
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  6. Let steaks rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
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