A pan or grill doesn’t allow for the precise cooking that a perfect uniformly done steak requires.
Because the heat spreads so fast inside outer layers of the meat, you get a juicy medium center, a beautiful browned crust but an unappealing gray section just on the inside.
You’ve probably seen these grey bands when you cut a traditionally cooked steak.
If you want your steaks to look better and taste better, there’s a better way to cook them.
It’s a two-step process. First, you use the classic French cooking method called Sous-vide. Then you use a kitchen blowtorch to caramelize the top of the steak to create a browned crust.
You still get your beautiful crust as well as a perfectly medium or medium rare inside. There are no dry grey areas to mar your steak.
It’s a chef-quality steak right in your kitchen. Here’s how to do it, step by step.
- Get your Sous-vide equipment ready. You can use a Sous-vide machine like the Anova Precision Cooker or the Andrew James Sous Vide Machine. Alternatively, pour warm water (slightly warmer than your desired doneness temperature) in a beer cooler with a thermometer inserted to monitor water temperature.
- Package your steak in a sous-vide bag. It’s up to you whether you want to season it or not before sous-vide. Some chef’s say seasoning with salt can affect juiciness and taste. Place the steak in a preheated sous-vide cooker.
- If you decide to use the beer cooler trick, make sure the water is at the right temperature before adding it to the cooler. If you want a medium steak, the water temperature should be slightly above 60°C. The cooler loses temperature very slowly. Use a thermometer to monitor temperature. Add some hot water if necessary.
- Check your steak after the recommended time. This depends on how thick your steak is. A 2.5” steak takes about 2 hours while a 1” thick steak takes 1 hour.
You are done with the first step. At this point, the steak is actually ready to eat. But it looks pretty bland and uninspiring. The second step will correct that.
Applying heat the surface of the meat causes the proteins and sugars to react in what is known as a Maillard reaction.
This is what causes the browning.
You can do it in a cast iron pan but you’ll risk overcooking the inside of the steak, creating the dreaded grey areas.
A broiler or grill carries the same risk.
The best way to caramelize your steak is using a blowtorch.
Because a blowtorch gets really hot, it can quickly sear the outside before the heat has time to do any damage inside. Just a few seconds around the steak is all you need to get that juicy brown crust.
You’ll need a powerful blowtorch that can get very hot. Don’t go for the small torches meant for crème brûlée.
Make sure you apply the flame evenly. If you spend too much time on one area, it will cook the inside.
Your perfect steak is ready.