Frozen Seared Steak

Frozen Seared Steak

Since first seeing this burger on Serious Eats, I’ve been quite intrigued by Modernist Cuisine, a series cookbooks by Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young and Maxime Bilet that focus on the science behind cooking (aka molecular gastronomy).  Although modernist techniques and recipes seem interesting, most are highly inaccessible to the home cook.  I mean, I don’t have 30 hours to make a burger.  Or a vacuum sealer, immersion circulator, centrifuge, high pressure cooker, etc.  So you can imagine my excitement when I saw this article in The New York Times featuring several recipes from Modernist Cuisine adapted for the home cook!  I decided to test out one of these recipes in my own kitchen.

This recipe starts with a beautiful slab of frozen porterhouse steak.  The steak is seared in a screaming hot cast iron skillet then finished in a 200°F oven until done to taste.  The whole process is quite easy and results in a perfectly cooked steak.  The contrast of the salty, golden crust and the smooth, buttery center is just pure heaven.  Freezing the steak in advance will ensure that you don’t overcook the meat while you achieve that perfect sear.  This recipe is also easily scalable for a dinner party.  Sear each steak one at a time and then finish them all off in the oven at the same time!  Frozen Seared Steak may not be as grandiose as the burger mentioned above, but it is a mouth-watering treat made using some simple modernist techniques.  Continue reading for the recipe plus a bonus video from my recent segment on San Diego Living.

Porterhouse SteakI alluded to this Frozen Seared Steak during my recent segment on San Diego Living.  Perfect for Valentine’s Day, these steaks can cook in the oven while you enjoy some stress-free apps and cocktails with your significant other.

Frozen Seared SteakFrozen Seared Steak

4.2 from 5 reviews
Frozen Seared Steak
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 bone-in porterhouse steak (about 1 1/2- inch thick)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Safflower oil (or any oil with a high smoke point)
Instructions
  1. Cover the steak in plastic wrap (or butcher paper) and place in the freezer for 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 200°F and place a rack in the center of the oven.
  3. After freezing for an hour, season the steak with a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Place a cast iron skillet over a high flame and heat until screaming hot (at least 10 minutes). Add a thin layer of safflower oil then quickly but carefully set the steak in the skillet. Sear one side only until golden brown. Press the steak down with tongs to get an even sear. Alternatively, you can set a heavy bottomed pot or press on top of the steak to get a nice even crust.
  5. Transfer the steak, seared side up, to a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook until done to taste (30 minutes - 1 hour). An internal temperature of 125 for rare, 145 for medium and 165 for well done.
  6. Let stand for 10 minutes covered in a aluminum foil before thinly slicing. Season with a sprinkle of kosher salt.

 

Comments

    • Brandon Matzek says

      Freeze your steak for at least one hour. You can use a steak that has been frozen longer. It will just require more time in the oven.

  1. Rebecca says

    Would this work well for steak that was frozen solid, not just frozen for an hour? I’m wondering if it would work well for steaks stored in the freezer – so when you get home from work, you can pull a steak from the freezer, sear it, put it in the oven, and then wait for it to be ready? If not, how (and for how long/to what point) would you suggest defrosting it prior to searing?

    • Brandon Matzek says

      This will work with steaks frozen solid. They will require more time cooking in the 200 oven (thermometer works wonders here). Also, be sure that your steaks are frozen flat. If they are bent at all, you’ll have a hard time getting an even sear.

    • says

      The frozen steak method is truly the best! We have a deep freezer and use steaks/cuts of meat all of the time that are frozen SOLID! Your porterhouse looks amazing. We love a perfect steak but on our tight budget (family of eight), we can’t always justify the expense. Amazingly enough, my super smart hubby figured out an amazing trick…..Chuck roast makes incredible “steak”! He has fooled the most discriminating taste buds with his secret find. You can check out my husband’s recipe here – http://poppyjuice-poppy.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-perfect-steak.html?utm_source=BP_recent

  2. Mark Johnson says

    Couldn’t you just transfer the cast iron skillet to the oven and save on having to wash the baking sheet?

    • Brandon Matzek says

      By transferring the steak to a baking sheet, you are removing it from the very hot cast iron surface and slowing down the cooking process. This will allow you to safely cook it in the oven until done to taste. You could keep it on the skillet; however, that would be a bit “riskier”. Also, this method allows you to easily scale up portions for a dinner party. Sear off multiple steaks in the skillet then finish them all off in the oven!

    • Brandon Matzek says

      You can apply this process to marinated steaks as well. I would recommend wiping off any excess marinade before freezing though. Bits of herbs or garlic could potentially burn once they hit the hot skillet.

    • Brandon Matzek says

      Thanks for the suggestion James! I’ve never had an issue with flare ups, but I do agree that extra caution should be taken when working with high heat and hot surfaces. I always focus 100% of my attention on the skillet when searing.

    • Brandon Matzek says

      By only searing one side, you reduce the risk of overcooking the meat. You could sear all sides, but, again, it’s a bit “riskier”. I tested this recipe out several times and each time it was mouth-wateringly good with just one side seared.

  3. Nomadicmedic says

    So if a steak was frozen solid – ball park temp for 1 hours cooking@say 350 – Would that be good for say med to med rare?

    • Brandon Matzek says

      Not sure on that one. This process calls for cooking the steak at 200. That will ensure your meat doesn’t over cook and stays tender!

  4. carla says

    can you give me an idea of how long it will take to cook a steak that is frozen solid? i prefer my steak to be medium rare. just want an idea of whether i should start dinner at 3 or 6. i love this idea. can’t wait to try it!

    • Brandon Matzek says

      Hi Carla, it really depends on the thickness of your steak. I would think a steak around 1 1/2 inches thick frozen solid would take about 1.5 to 2 hours. Just keep an eye on your thermometer. Please come back and share results!!

  5. Mike says

    Very interesting idea. Gonna try it this weekend. Question, will a frozen steak on a hot skillet give off alot of smoke? Need to know if I need to pull the smoke alarms. Glad I came across this site. Enough ideas to keep me busy for awhile. Cheers

  6. Tex says

    Very interesting technique. Could one use a grill frying pan instead of a flat bottomed skillet?
    It would be nice (aesthetically) to have the sear lines on the steak but since the entire surface of the steak will not be seared this may negate the oven cooking process; at a minimum I would guess it would increase the cooking time. Thanks for sharing this technique.

  7. Stan S. says

    fwiw, this can translate to the grill too with a two step fire, and partially closed vents,

    But for indoor cooking Cooks Illustrated does it in reverse without the freezing. Put the steak in the low temp oven till it comes to about 5 degrees of desired temp and then sear it. Works for a party too.

    • Brandon Matzek says

      As long as you prod the steak gently, it should be ok :) All of the steaks I made were juicy. I used my thermometer on the first steak but used the press test on the others.

  8. Traci says

    What about a steak that is not as thick? We just bought farm fresh beef and the steaks are in our freezer, but they are only 1 inch thick. I will use a thermometer, but for planning meal time, an estimation would be helpful. Thanks for the recipe. Can’t wait to try it out.

    • Brandon Matzek says

      Hmmm, if they are frozen solid it may take 40 minutes to 1 hour. If you have an extra steak, I would do a test run!

  9. Michael says

    Basically the same concept as with sous vide (low and slow followed by or proceeded by a high sear) but since most folks don’t have immersion circulators, it’s easier to apply. However, sous vide would allow less guess work, no temperature checks involving probing a steak with a thermometer (which will release juices!), ability to leave the steak inside the bath until service time (obviously anything over 2-3 hours in there for a steak would bad though) and benefits from cooking in a vacuum sealed bag which keeps all the flavor and juice inside while cooking where as a dry oven could cook it out.

    On the topic however – does anyone know pro/cons of searing then sous vide vs sous vide and finishing with a sear

  10. Jennie says

    Curious if this would work OK with a boneless pork steak, cooked to an appropriate temperature for pork, of course. Anyone tried it?

  11. jrob8503 says

    Did the with two 6oz strip steaks tonight. Cut freezing time a bit because it wasn’t as large a single cut. Didn’t oil the pan as my cast iron is pretty well seasoned. Also, put the oven at 350F because I was short on time. Had to keep a closer eye on steak though. Conclusion, the best steak I’ve ever made at home. Thanks for the great technique.

  12. says

    I almost set my kitchen on fire making this. Usually I add oil first, however this time I added the oil slowly as the recipe says. Poof, fire! Thankfully it went out when I covered the pan, but still.

  13. says

    WOW. This made the BEST steak. Very tender and juicy (I had a large beef sirloin tip steak). I’m never going to cook a steak any other way (unless, perhaps, it’s very thin).

    I had it frozen solid in the freezer. Pulled it out and put it in the fridge this morning. Rubbed some salt and pepper, then some VERY grainy mustard. I can’t believe how wonderful it turned out!

  14. Rhonda says

    Brandon,
    First of all nice name,,,my son’s name…and second…made the frozen seared steak,,,,it was great!!! I could never ever make a good moist steak no matter how many recipes I tried. This was perfect. My husband complimented me 3 times on how good it was. Thank you for your website!

  15. says

    Hi Brandon – congrats on the San Diego Living segment. Terrific.
    I am so happy to see this steak technique. I am fascinated by Modernist. I was lucky to be the Guest Chef for the Day at Moto in Chicago last month. Been excitedly experimenting with Modernist recipes…hopefully soon on my blog.
    LL
    P.S. Your steak photos rock!

  16. Annabelle says

    Why is there a video for Red Velvet Pancakes on this site? I wanted to see the steak being cooked. That sounds soooo good.

    • Brandon Matzek says

      Hi Annabelle, the video is from my Channel 6 TV segment earlier in the week. I was reviewing recipes for Valentine’s Day and I referenced this Frozen Seared Steak.

  17. says

    YIKES! How did those of you who did this with a frozen solid steak not get burned? I put the oil into the intensely hot cast iron skillet (*lots* of smoke) and then dropped the steak in.

    I was greeted by an immediate explosion of oil and water and I have little burns all over my face. Duh – I should have realized in advance.

    I can see how a steak that’s only been in the freezer for an hour might not exhibit this problem, but at least one comment says that a solidly frozen steak worked well. How?!?

    Anyway, be careful.

  18. Rebecca says

    Oh wow, Dan, that’s terrible! I’m so glad you weren’t more seriously injured. An earlier commenter (#10, I think) suggested lightly oiling the steak itself before putting it in the pan instead of adding oil to the pan. Also, if your steak is frozen solid, you might want to do your best to chip away any chunks/flakes of ice visible on the surface and ‘dry’ the steak as thoroughly as you can with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels before you add the steak to the pan, to reduce the amount of water available on the steak to spatter up at you. And, if you have one, before you put the steak in the pan, put a spatter shield of the sort used for bacon (a big flat fine mesh screen) in between your face and the steak (then leave it atop the pan while it sears).

    I hope these suggestions help avoid future injuries :)

  19. says

    I would suggest changing your blog post to note that some may want to oil the meat instead of the pan because not everyone will have the common sense to cover the burning pan with a lid to suffocate the flames…

  20. David says

    For a better char, put the steak in the oven first and then sear in the pan. The already warmed steak requires less of a temperature gradient to get to seared temps, whereas putting a frozen steak in the pan will crash the temp on the pan pretty severely. This method also works well with roasts, though in reality, you don’t need to freeze it first. The problem with freezing first is that as it warms, the cells rupture and release a lot of the water.

    So in short, this is a nice method to cook steaks, or roasts that are already frozen, but it’s always better to start with something not frozen. By low temp roasting, you do eliminate the need to rest the steaks outside the refrigerator before searing since it doesn’t really matter if they are frig or room temp when you put in the oven.

      • Alex says

        It was a refrigerated Costco steak that I kept in a freezer for 20 minutes before cooking. The steak was fine at the end, but I would recommend to plan for 2-2.5 hours not including freezing if you want to get it to medium well.

  21. JR says

    Can’t Waite to try this method. I watched it on the TV series The Chew today and then googled to find this blog. In my family I’m known for my great steaks. Can I substitute my Weber Genius grill for the oven? JR

    • Brandon Matzek says

      Hi JR, welcome to Kitchen Konfidence! You can use a grill for this method, but you would just have to make sure that you can maintain a steady temperature. This is a trickier task on a grill.

  22. Luiza says

    How come this doesn’t taste weird? Every time I accidentally grill a steak that is not completely defrosted it tastes awful! I can’t explain why, but that’s something I know it’s true in practice. Has no one noticed a change in the flavor?

  23. Carl says

    OK so I tried this on some fresh filet mignon steaks. Put them in the freezer for 45 minutes then did the steps above. Result was a steak that just smelled/tasted of freezerburn. Any idea of where I could have gone wrong? Any input appreciated :)

    • Brandon Matzek says

      Hi Carl, I’m not 100% sure what happened there. The steaks shouldn’t have developed freezer burn in just 45 minutes. Perhaps try wrapping the steak in parchment next time to keep freezer smells from the steak?

  24. jay says

    Great recipe! Did it when i was alone in my apartment. Kind of cheated on the oven part since i used a microwave for around 3 minutes at the lowest setting. But still surprised at how juicy the steak was .. and straight from the freezer! And best of all in just under 15 minutes!

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