Sous Vide Steaks

The Food Lab

Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science.

Sous Vide Steaks

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Sous vide is the ideal way to cook steak for perfectly even edge-to-edge cooking with foolproof results. Sous vide steaks can be finished in a pan or on the grill.

Why It Works

  • Slow, precise cooking followed by high heat gives you perfectly even results with a nice dark crust.
  • Yield:Serves 4
  • Active time: 20 minutes
  • Total time:1 1/2 to 4 hours
  • Rated:

Ingredients

  • 2 (1 1/2- to 2-inch thick) ribeye, strip, porterhouse or t-bone (about 1 pound each), or 4 tenderloin steaks (6 to 8 ounces each)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 sprigs thyme or rosemary (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves (optional)
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions

  1. 1.

    Preheat a sous-vide cooker to desired final temperature according to charts above. Season steaks generously with salt and pepper. Place in sous-vide bags along with herbs, garlic, and shallots (if using) and distribute evenly. Seal bags and place in water bath for time according to charts above.

  2. 2.

    To finish in a pan: Turn on your vents and open your windows. Remove steak from water bath and bag and carefully pat dry with paper towels. Place a heavy cast iron or stainless steel skillet with vegetable, canola, or rice bran oil over the hottest burner you have and preheat the skillet until it starts to smoke. Gently lay the steak in the skillet using your fingers or a set of tongs. If desired, add a tablespoon of butter. For a cleaner-tasting sear, omit the butter at this stage. After 15 to 30 seconds, flip the steak so that the second side comes into contact with the pan. Repeat, flipping the steak every 15 to 30 seconds until it has developed a nice brown sear, about a minute and a half total. If you did not add butter earlier, add butter to the skillet about 30 seconds before the steak is done for added richness. Serve steak immediately.

  3. 3.

    To finish on the grill: Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Remove steak from water bath and bag and carefully pat dry with paper towels. Place steak directly over the hot side of the grill and cook, turning every 15 to 30 seconds, until a deep, rich crust has formed, about 1 1/2 minutes total. If the fire threatens to flare up as the steak drips fat into it, suffocate the fire by closing the grill lid until the flames die out. Alternatively, transfer the steak to the cooler side of the grill using a set of long tongs until the flames subside. Do not allow the steak to get engulfed in flames. Transfer the cooked steak to a cutting board or serving platter and serve immediately.