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Another steak grilling faceoff: Searing versus "Reverse-Searing"

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Another steak grilling faceoff: Searing versus "Reverse-Searing"

ipsedixit | Jul 9, 2009 09:34 AM

Conventional wisdom (generally speaking) on grilling steaks is to sear quickly then finish off either in a warm oven, or in a cooler part of the grill. That's what I am going to call the "Searing" technique.

Then there's the technique trumpeted by Cook's Illusttrated (and probably others), which essentially turns the process on its head, hence the name "Reverse Searing". This technique esseentially calls for first warming up the steak in the oven until internal temp reaches ~90F, then searing quickly on a hot grill or cast iron pan.

The supposed "advantage" of Reverse Searing (at least according to Cook's Illustrated) is that by heating the steaks first in an oven the surface of the steak dries out which allows the surface of the steak to brown more quickly and immediately when it hits the hot grill (or pan).

The other advantage to Reverse Searing (again, according to Cook's Illustrated) is that when the steak enzymes -- the cathespins -- are heated up to 120F they help break down the steak creating a "quickie" dry aging process for the meat. Past 120F, the cathespins stop working, so by first warming up the steaks to an internal temp of ~90F, the enzymes are allowed a longer time to do their work, and thus to tenderize the steak.

Is there a consensus here on the board as to which technique is preferrable?

I'm going to try and do a side-by-side comparison, hopefully in the near future, but was wondering if anyone has already come to any conclusions as to whether Reverse Searing is better (or worse) than the more traditional Searing method.

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