Weeknight CookingHow to CookItalian CookingDinner, FasterMeat

This Recipe Will Make You Rethink the Way You Sear Steak

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Brown the meat on high heat first, then cook it longer on slow heat. That is the way that many chefs in America, who are trained in the French ways of cooking, learn to prepare steak.

But I've often watched Italians cook their meat following the opposite—and, for many of us, the counterintuitive—method: low and slow rather than hard and quick.

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Slow-Cooked Rib Eye Topped with Spicy Harissa Carrots
Slow-Cooked Rib Eye Topped with Spicy Harissa Carrots

I adapted this technique for my apartment kitchen because I hated searing a steak in the pan, spattering grease everywhere and inevitably setting off my fire alarm. In the winter months, when many of us have forgone the grill for the stovetop, a less messy method is a relief.

You’ll come away with a very tender, very evenly cooked, medium-rare steak with a browned, well-seasoned exterior (if you love your steak rare, however, this probably isn’t going to work for you).

When I started researching this technique, I saw some recipes for “reverse searing” that involved using the oven. But I think you have more control of the cooking process, and can keep the interior rarer, if you cook it in on the stove, so that only one side of the meat is cooking at any one time (in the oven, it's cooked from all sides).

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Everything You Need to Know About Rib Eye

Everything You Need to Know About Rib Eye by Cara Nicoletti

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Serve This Pepper-Crusted Steak to Company (or, Better, Save It For Yourself)

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Another tip I picked up in Italy is not to salt the meat until the outside is cooked. Italians believe that pre-seasoning beef even just seconds before it goes into the pan will pull the juices out and take away tenderness. It may or may not be true (I am not a scientific cook, just an intuitive collector of recipes and techniques that appeal to me), but I like the vivid contrast that salting the beef immediately after cooking creates—the crust is crisp, brown, and salty, while the inside is tender and almost sweet.

As always, you will want to rest this steak before slicing into it. I like to serve steak with a crisp green or shaved root vegetable salad to contrast with the richness of the meat.

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Slow-Cooked Rib Eye Topped with Spicy Harissa Carrots

71ac0add b9dd 45dd 87f6 3be6244a2f8b  unnamed Sara Jenkins
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Serves 2 to 4

For the steak:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • One 2-inch-thick bone-in rib eye, at room temperature
  • Salt and pepper
  • Equipment: 1 heavy-bottomed and ideally well-seasoned cast iron pan

For the spicy grated salad:

  • 2 to 4 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon harissa (as always, I prefer the occasionally elusive Moulin Mahjoub harissa)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
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How do you cook steak indoors without making an oil-splattering mess? Tell us in the comments!