The Cookalong Podcast

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Posted in Food, New Methods
January 25, 2019

Perfectly-Cooked Steak Part 2—From Frozen!

Last night, I pulled a 3-inch-thick three pound bone-in ribeye steak from my freezer, cooked it to medium-rare perfection without defrosting it first, and served it to company an hour later.

I know it seems too good to be true, but the steaks I’ve cooked this way have been the some of the best I’ve ever prepared. In fact, I recommend you deliberately freeze your next steak as a preparation for cooking it. Crazy, right?

I buy nice steaks when I see them rather than when I want them, so my steaks are always frozen. Defrosting them in the microwave seems to cook the edges and corners to a tough and ugly grey mess and make the juice run all over the plate. A microwave can turn a steak with gourmet potential into something you’d get at a bad roadside diner.

So it’s not surprising that I got excited about this technique when I read about it in Cook’s Illustrated. They’d done the science experiment and explained why it would work, and all I had to do was follow their recommended steps.

Here’s how you can join me in having a perfect steak without defrosting it first:

1.    Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 275°

2.    Pour enough vegetable oil into a frying pan to coat the bottom.

3.    Heat the oil on the stovetop on medium high till you can feel significant heat when you hold the palm of your hand about three inches above the pan.

4.    WARNING—THIS NEXT STEP WILL MAKE THE GREASE SPLATTER. Use a splatter screen or be prepared to step back quickly. Put your frozen steak into the hot oil and jump back while it spits hot oil.

5.    When the grease is no longer spitting, check the bottom of the steak. You want a crisp, deep brown crust. When you see that, turn the steak over, and jump back from the spitting oil again.

6.    OPTIONAL STEP: When the second side is the same color as the first, you can hold the steak on its side with a fork and brown all the edges, if you want. You won’t overcook it, because…it’s frozen!

7.    Remove the steak to a baking sheet and put it into the preheated oven.

8.    How long you leave the steak in the oven will depend on both the thickness of your steak and the size of your oven. If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, or a thermometer with a probe that’s inside the oven while the digital readout is outside the oven, get one before you try this. You really can’t gauge how done the steak is without it.

9.    Take the steak out of the oven when the thermometer reads 125°. (This is for medium rare. Go to 130° if you want it to be medium. I won’t even talk to you about steaks that are more well done than that, because that’s a criminal waste of steak.)

10. Move the steak to a platter and set a timer for 10 minutes. NO CUTTING TILL THAT TIMER GOES OFF! No, it won’t get cold, because it’s still cooking.

That’s a lot of words for a very simple process of browning the steak in hot oil, roasting it at a low temperature till it reaches 125°, and then letting it rest for 10 minutes before you eat it.

Here’s what you’re going to get:

1.    Gorgeous medium-rare meat from one surface to the other. No grey part inside where it got overcooked.
2.    A beautiful and savory outer crust.
3.    A juicy interior, because you didn’t cut the steak so soon that the juice ran out onto the plate before it could be reabsorbed by the meat.

I know you’re dying to try this. And I’m excited for you to taste the results. The first steak I cooked this way was a 1½ thick tenderloin. It was the best steak I’ve ever cooked myself. Really. This method is my new crusade—join me!

If your steak isn’t frozen, you can still cook it perfectly. Read this!

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