Saturday, February 07, 2009

What's on the Grill #115

A reverse sear Porterhouse with beer reduced onions and twice baked horseradish potatoes!  Zoë was off with some friends last night, so I was left to my own culinary devices.  As many of you know, Friday is typically Ribeye Friday.  Nothing closes a work week better than some fine grilled meat.  Well in order to mix things up a little bit, I set my eyes on a Porterhouse at the store and decided to try a reverse sear. 

Porterhouse with...

The idea behind the reverse sear is to promote even cooking.  To do so, cook the meat indirectly (or in an oven) at a low temperature until the meat’s temperature hits about 90-100 degrees.  Then, finish off the meat by searing it over high heat.  This is a process that works well with large cuts of meat, not wafer thin steaks.  The difference is that if you try to cook a large piece of meat over high heat you will have a very pink center with rapidly browning color as you approach the outside of the meat.  By using a reverse sear, you will have more pink throughout the meat because of the immediate lack of direct high heat pounding on the surface.

I have found success using this process with large tenderloin filets for Zoë.  She likes her meat well done, as I have sadly documented before.  In order to cook a large filet for her without butterflying, the reverse sear works great because I can cook the meat evenly until it hits 140 degrees internal and then finish it off over high heat to pretty it up. 

Reverse Sear

I placed my rubbed (Salt, Pepper, & Paprika) Porterhouse on a cast iron skillet over indirect heat.  The hood temp was about 300 degrees, which in hindsight was a little high.  Using a temperature probe, I cooked the steak until its internal temp hit 100 degrees.  I then moved it over the direct high burners and seared it for about 2 minutes a side…I think.  I was running around with my head cut off trying to get everything else done!

The Sear

Ideally you would let the meat rest about 10 minutes undisturbed.  I of course have to molest my meat by taking a bazillion pictures.  By the time I finally sat down to eat, I found it a nice medium pink throughout.  I much prefer medium rare, so I should have gotten my act together sooner…or at least checked the temp to see if I was there.

I have seen reverse sear discussed a number of other places, including America’s Test Kitchen and Good Eats.  For me, it is something that warrants further experimentation.

Oh, I almost forgot the onions.  I thinly sliced a yellow onion and then sautéed it in a cast iron skillet with 3 tablespoons of butter.  I then added a bottle of Sam Adams Irish Red beer.  I cooked the beer and onions until it was reduced by half.  I would have preferred a stout, but I was out.  I didn’t want something too hoppy either, so I choose the Sam Adams, the most malty-ish beer I had.   It worked pretty well…although I may have used a tad too much butter.  Of course in my world that is just an oversight, not a crime! 


barefootboatnik said...

This looks absolutely amazing.. I can't wait to try it this week!

Ada Brescia said...

WOW! As soon as I can dig myself out of this mess in Coconut Creek, Florida, and get back to my estate in Brooklyn, New York, I am going to have one of those babies!

"The Outdoor Cook" said...

Your photos are always top notch!!! Do you go to a butcher for your meat or just the supermarket meat counter? Do you think there is a difference?


Anonymous said...

You realize that this technique is in contradiction of all serious grilling/cooking principle?

Grilling over high heat caramelize the exterior of the meat and creates a flavorful crust. Cutting on the grilling time is a bad idea.

Butcher vs supermarket, try them and trust your taste buds.

Mike said...

@barefoot & @Ada Brescia - Thanks and good luck!

@Outdoor Cook - Thanks so much. It depends. Right now I have had better luck at Kroger versus the two butchers I have close by. The absolute best in the area is a specialty supermarket. It all depends on the meat.

@Anonymous - Thanks for dropping by. I would not necessarily say that reverse sear goes against serious (as opposed to less-serious?) grilling. In fact, this article in the New York Times talks about the relationship of heat and cooking and gives specific mention to the idea of searing at the end of the cook.

A reverse sear does not cut short the grilling time, it only reverses the order. For thick cuts, you still are going to sear over high heat and then move to low heat to continue cooking until you reach your desired doneness. This is just one more method in the grilling toolbox.

I could not agree with you more. Do trust your taste buds. Sometimes the results will surprise you.

lasalleyves said...

Mike, I did not mean to offend anyone by my comment, sorry if I did.

The worst part is I advised against something by Harold McGee.

Thanks for pointing to the article.

Still, from the color of the meat in the picture, I think you could apply more heat to the meat. Anyway thats just an opinion.

Mike said...

No offense taken, I welcome your comments and feedback.

In retrospect, I wish I had the time (and another steak) to have had comparison cut away shots of the reverse sear versus an initial sear. Frankly, I was surprised that I even had grill marks. Although I can get almost 700 degrees on the Summit, I was not maxed out when I seared. Next time (oh yes, there will be a next time!) I will go indirect on the Summit and then move to a kettle for the final direct sear. That difference in lack of super high heat at the end might have made the difference you see.

Ah, the joy of experimentation...more good meals to come.

lasalleyves said...

I have to agree, culinary experimentation is great.

That's why I don't like working in a restaurant kitchen. Your stuck doing the same over and over.

You should try with your grill maxed at 700. I use a 650-700 range for my steaks and I get great results. But higher heat might be
better, I heard some guys do steaks at 1600.

Do you close the lid when you grill?

Mike said...


Yes, I always grill with the lid down.

Fortunately, work and cooking are light years apart for me. I look at grilling as complete escapism and love every second of it. My hat is off to anyone that does this professionally.

DocChuck said...

Where can you even buy a grill that gets that hot? It would scare me.

Viola Cudd said...

What a great technique!

Steak is a once in a longtime treat at our house, but when I come upon one I'm going to try this.

lasalleyves said...

High performance professional broiler/grill will get as high as 1600 degrees.

Finney said...

I'm glad you like my method. If you want any more info on it, try my site

Anonymous should try the method and then post.