Whether you’re aiming to cook a steak, chicken breast, or a full rack of ribs, a crispy sear is crucial. Traditionally, these cuts of meat were cooked on a pan, in an oven, or on a grill to get that sought-after crisp every time.
Sous vide cooks your meat to exactly the ideal temperature, but without a crisp crust. Because of this, properly searing your sous vide food is absolutely necessary. Luckily, there are lots of ways to do this, and I’m going to lay out the steps to get the perfect sear for sous vide.
Preparing the Steak and Cooking Sous Vide
To start, pre-heat the water bath to your ideal steak temperature. My favorite is 130°F for a perfect medium rare. While that’s pre-heating, generously season your Omaha Steaks Filet Mignon with sea salt, cracked black pepper, and any aromatics such as rosemary, and then vacuum seal the steak (or place it in a heavy duty Ziploc bag).
Once your water reaches your precise temperature, lower the bagged steak into the water and cook for roughly 2 hours.
Getting the Perfect Sear
Step 1: Heat Cast Iron Pan on MEDIUM HIGH
What is this guy, crazy? How can I sear a steak on medium? Cast iron pans take a bit to really heat up, so add your avocado oil (or another high smoke point oil) to the pan and let it heat up for a few minutes. Use a digital infrared thermometer to check the surface temperature of your pan. Anything about 350° or above will sizzle. I aim for 450° with my burner between 6 and 7 out of 9.
One of the main reasons people smoke their houses out is because they crank the pan on high heat, and then once the smoke starts billowing they turn the heat down. But the issue is, cast iron pans hold heat so well, that turning down your heat will take quite some time to feel the affect. So the key is to not even let that happen.
Step 2: Add Steak, Flip Often
Dry your steak very well by patting it dry with paper towels. If you don’t believe your infrared thermometer, test it out first by putting a corner of the steak down. If it’s not sizzling (or starts smoking too much), adjust the temperature accordingly and wait. If it’s ready, add your steak and flip often. I flip about every 15 seconds or so making sure to also get the sides and edges. About 1 minute.
Step 3: Add Butter to Pan
I think this step really helps to develop a crust. After you do the initial sear for about a minute, add butter to the pan and continue searing for an additional minute, flipping in between. You have to be the judge at this point, since The crust won’t be staggering — it should be a good, solid deep brown, but won’t have a fresh-off-the-grill thick crust.
(Optional) Step 4: Torch
Break out the searing torch if you’re feeling adventurous for a perfect crust. If you’re using a cast iron pan, you can leave the steak right in the pan and torch-sear one side while the other is still cooking in the pan. It doesn’t take long to finish the sear off, the last one I did took about 30 seconds of flame time total, but it depends on your tastes.
Step 5: Remove from Pan and Pour Juices on Steak
If you have any juices in the pan, pour them over the steak since the torch’s heat can dry out the crust a bit. The added juices will also help re-crisp the crust while it’s still hot. Don’t have any juices in the pan? You can reheat the juices from your sous vide bag in a separate pan during the sear and use that.
Serve it — Bon Appétit!
Editor’s Note: This blog post was written by Derek Gaughan, owner of Sous Vide Guy, one of the leading sous vide resources. Derek reviewed Omaha Steak’s Sous Vide Experience package and also developed this comprehensive guide to cooking sous vide steak. Check out Derek’s full Omaha Steaks review.