Some say it's the only right way to cook a steak - if that's you, you might wanna pay close attention. We did the experiment for all of you asking: two steaks, seasoned the exact same way, and cooked on the same pit. The only difference being one was cooked with a regular sear, while the other was reverse seared.
What you’ll need
Let's go over the theory behind both techniques. Searing refers to the method of cooking the steak over high heat, on a pan or directly over the coal bed. This will result in a nice char it on the outside, while sealing the juices inside. The difference between regular and reverse searing is whether you do it before or after cooking the steak to your preferred doneness.
So, why the fuss? It all boils down to two factors: steak juicyness, and even cooking throughout the meat. There's only one way to know - do the experiment! So we did, so you don't have to. Here's how it went.
Preparing the Steaks
To keep the integrity of this experiment, we went all out: we got identical ribeye steaks, and seasoned them in the exact same manner: one layer of Dirty Bird Hot, then one layer of Texas Beef. To seal everything inside (as well as add some flavor), a quick coat of spray butter did the trick.
We set our grill up for two-zone cooking. This means one side is directly above the heat source, while the other is further away form it, and benefits only from radiant heat. This way we can move the steaks between the two temperatures.
Time to get these bad boys cooking!
Let's go with the good ol' sear first. First we're placing the steak over direct heat, to give it that nice crusty outside.
Pro tip: To get those beautiful diamond sear marks, sear, then rotate by 45 degrees, sear, then flip. Repeat for the other side.
Once you have seared it for about 2-3 minutes in total, pull the ribeye to the indirect heat side of the grill. This is where we'll cook it up to its target temperature (135ºF for a medium rare). Then pull it off the heat, and let it rest. Keep in mind that carryover temperature will keep cooking the meat for another 5º.
Next up, the reverse sear! In contrast with the regular sear method, this time we're searing at the end, for those last few couple of minutes before reaching target temp. Start by cooking over indirect heat, keeping an eye on its internal temperature.
Once core temp is 15ºF shy of your desired doneness, move it to the hot side (we moved it at 120ºF for medium rare). Sear for about a minute and a half on each side, then pull off the grill and rest.
Comparing the two steaks, one thing was certain: both were delicious in their own right. The traditionallly seared one went a lot faster, and had a great crust on the outside. But the reverse seared one was cooked way more even all the way through, with no under- or overcooked areas. It also retained its moisture better, resulting in a tender, flavorful end product.
Have you tried both techniques? Do you prefer seared or reverse seared ribeye steak? Let us know in the comments, or send us a message on the social medium of your choice!