Low-Temp Oven Steak - Modernist Cuisine

Low-Temp Oven Steak

Recipe • January 10, 2013

The reason we freeze the steaks in this recipe before cooking them is to make sure we don’t overcook them. It will work even if the steaks are frozen as solid as a brick, though it might take a little longer in the oven. That’s why this recipe works so well as both a weeknight dinner and as a main course at a dinner party.

Nathan Myhrvold, coauthor of Modernist Cuisine and Modernist Cuisine at Home


Tips & Substitutions

  • To watch a video of Nathan demonstrating this technique, click here.
Steps 1– & 2
  • You can use a completely frozen steak for this recipe, though it might take a little longer to cook.
  • If your oven doesn’t go all the way down to 70 °C / 160 °F, that’s all right. Set it to its lowest temperature. The steak may cook faster, but since you are cooking it to a core temperature, that is fine.
  • If you aren’t sure how low your oven actually goes, you may want to first calibrate it. You can read all about calibrating your thermometer, oven, and refrigerator here.
  • The purpose of freezing the steak is so you can first sear it without overcooking it. This will give it an even texture and “doneness.”
  • For best results, freeze the steak on a baking sheet. This will give the steak an even surface area.
Steps 3– – 6
  • You can sear the steak by pan-frying it, or with a blowtorch.
  • Make sure to sear the fat on the sides of the steak.
  • We have found that just searing one side of the steak is enough to provide flavor and aesthetics, but you can sear both sides if you so desire.
  • You can use any neutral oil when searing the steak. Our favorite is Safflower oil, because it has such a high smoke point.
  • If you use a blowtorch, move the flame continuously back and forth across the steak for even browning.
  • The core temperature of the steak will increase at a faster rate as time goes on. Once the thermometer indicates that the core temperature is within 10 °C / 18 °F from your target, check the steak every minute or so to avoid overcooking.
  • Make sure to use an oven-safe probe thermometer.
  • The steak will continue to cook a few more degrees after it comes out of the oven.
  • We like to cook our steaks to a core temperature of 55 °C / 131 °F for a medium-rare finish. But for strip steak, you can go as low as 52 °C / 126 °F for a rare steak, or as high as 62 °C / 144 °F for a medium steak. For more on core temperatures for other cuts of steak, as well as other meats, see page 192 of Modernist Cuisine at Home. Remember that cooking time will vary for different cuts and thicknesses of steak.
Steps 7 & –8
  • If desired, brush the finished steak with melted butter and then sprinkle it with salt to taste.
  • When you cut into the steak, it will look more pink than red. In a few minutes, it will turn redder as the oxygen in the air binds with the myoglobin in the steak. Myoglobin is the muscle version of hemoglobin.