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I would like to cook a couple steaks using the "reverse sear" technique (e.g. this Youtube video).

The general instructions are:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275F.
  2. Put steaks in oven and bake until they reach an internal temperature of 125F (for rare).
  3. Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest for approximately 15 minutes.
  4. Sear for about one minute per side and serve.

In the video, they use a probe thermometer but without one of these available, how can I estimate the time required for step 2 based on the weight and/or thickness of the meat? Obviously each cut of steak has a different amount of fat, etc but are there any general guidelines? It would be nice to keep the number of thermometer-meat-stabbings to a minimum.

  • Any particular reason you want to avoid using a thermometer? – logophobe Apr 15 '15 at 1:38
  • Technically the word sear is not correctly used in this method. while bringing the steaks up to temp they would lose some of their juiciness without the sear being applied ahead of time. – Chef_Code Apr 15 '15 at 6:00
  • All you are doing with this technique is caramelizing both sides not searing, "reverse searing" or whatever. – Chef_Code Apr 15 '15 at 6:07
  • @Chef_Code - To "sear" is to brown food over high heat, activating Maillard Reactions...searing leads to carmelization and has nothing to do with juices. There is no requirement that the protein is raw or cooked. How is this not a sear? – moscafj Apr 15 '15 at 10:55
  • @Chef_Code : tests have shown that 'sear to keep in the juices' is a fallacy. And it's not caramelization, as it's not sugar. – Joe Apr 15 '15 at 12:04
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I think this will be impossible to do accurately, in an oven, without a thermometer. I know you want to estimate, but a few degrees will be the difference between rare and medium rare, for example. Variables include: thickness of steak, internal temperature of steak when you begin, accuracy of your oven temperature, and time. In an oven, even though you set the temp for 275...not only might that be inaccurate (thus the use of oven thermometers), it also fluctuates fairly widely throughout the cook time.

If you were cooking in a water bath (sous vide) you could solve this problem with excellent accuracy. See http://www.douglasbaldwin.com/sous-vide.html#Beef

Caution: Do not apply Baldwin's charts to oven cooking.

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    Agreed; Sous-Vide technique will give much better results. You can make a "ghetto" one on the cheap by using a slow cooker and a simple temperature control. amazon.com/Dorkfood-Sous-Vide-Temperature-Controller-DSV/dp/… – zerobane Apr 14 '15 at 20:00
  • Recipes sometimes say "a 5 lb roast will take x minutes @ 350F" + y minutes/lb for a larger roast. I was wondering if there might be a rule of thumb for smaller pieces of meat. I completely agree it won't be accurate (and maybe that's the simple answer - no you can't estimate it :)) – Jedidja Apr 14 '15 at 20:07
  • I agree, but at the same time that doesn't mean there's no use for an estimate. If you're trying to cook to an accurate temperature in the oven, you're inevitably going to be some thermometer testing. And an estimate would be enough to at least let you set a timer for when you need to go make your first check. – Cascabel Apr 14 '15 at 20:27
  • @Jefromi I'd be happy to hear an estimate formula even with caveats such as "if you are sure your oven temperature is 275F, then a 1 inch steak originally at room temperature should reach 125F in approximately 45 minutes" – Jedidja Apr 14 '15 at 23:06
  • @Jedidja Yup, I would too :) Sorry, I have no experience baking steaks myself. – Cascabel Apr 14 '15 at 23:16

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