The enviable goal of pan-roasting meat is to achieve supercrispy texture on the exterior of the food while cooking the interior to a perfect degree of juicy doneness. The most common approach involves stovetop followed by oven: searing first in a skillet on the stovetop to brown the exterior and then transferring it to a hot oven to finish cooking through. But for the most spectacular deep-brown crust and uniformly juicy and properly cooked interior, we often do the opposite.
The problem with searing the meat before transferring it to the oven is that, in order for the surface of meat to brown, it first has to lose the water it contains. Blasting raw meat on the stovetop with high heat long enough to dry out the surface will also start to overcook the layer below the surface. In the high, prolonged heat of the oven that follows, the meat ends up turning dry throughout, with a gray band of overcooked meat around the exterior.
So instead, sear the meat on the stovetop after roasting it in the oven. We particularly favor this hybrid cooking technique, known as reverse searing, for small whole roasts and thick racks, ribs, chops, and steaks. It involves first roasting the protein gently in a low oven until nearly done. This gently renders fat and minimizes the temperature difference between the meat’s center and its exterior, so the meat cooks through evenly from edge to edge. This process also dries the exterior of the meat. Then, since the exterior is already dry, the meat’s surface browns much more quickly once transferred to the stovetop. With this method, there’s no time for the meat beneath the surface to overcook, and the food can also maintain a better crust since searing is the last step.
Don’t be tempted to skip the stovetop sear and instead blast the meat under the broiler. The radiant heat of the broiler doesn’t work as quickly as direct contact with a hot metal pan, so even if you crank up the oven, the surface of the meat won’t develop a crust quickly enough and the interior will overcook.
1 Season and prepare meat while oven preheats.
2 Arrange meat on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet.
3 Roast meat in low oven until desired doneness is reached, flipping halfway through if directed.
4 Heat oil in skillet on stovetop until just smoking. Add meat and quickly sear until well browned on all sides.
5 Let meat rest on carving board, then slice and serve.
Roast Beef Tenderloin with ShallotParsley Butter
Serves 4 to 6
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Roasting first and then searing makes the exceptionally tender texture of a center-cut beef tenderloin really shine. The technique eliminates the risk of creating a gray band of overdone meat just below the crust and gives the roast a gorgeous ruby coloring from edge to edge. Tying the roast at intervals with kitchen twine made it more compact and gave it an even shape, which promoted even cooking. To up the tenderloin’s mild flavor and help it hold on to its juices, we salted the roast before cooking. A smear of softened butter helped compensate for the leanness of this cut with a minimum of fuss. Starting the roast in a fairly cool 300-degree oven minimized the temperature differential between the exterior and interior, allowing for gentle, even cooking. This approach also dried out the surface of the meat so it seared very quickly in the hot skillet in the next step, leaving no chance for it to overcook. We finished by slathering the roast with a flavored butter, which melted and became an instant sauce as the beef rested. Center-cut beef tenderloin roasts are sometimes sold as Châteaubriand. Ask your butcher to prepare a trimmed center-cut Châteaubriand, as this cut is not usually available without special ordering.
1 (2-pound) center-cut beef tenderloin roast, trimmed, tail end tucked, and tied at 1½-inch intervals
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 recipe Shallot-Parsley Butter (recipe follows)
1 Sprinkle roast evenly with salt, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.
2 Pat roast dry with paper towels. Sprinkle roast evenly with pepper and spread softened butter evenly over surface. Transfer roast to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Roast until beef registers 120 to125 degrees (for medium-rare), 40 to 55 minutes, flipping roast halfway through roasting.
3 Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown roast well on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer roast to carving board and spread 2 tablespoons shallot-parsley butter evenly over top of roast; let rest for 30 minutes. Remove twine and slice into ½-inch-thick slices. Serve, passing remaining shallot-parsley butter separately.
Serves 4 to 6
(Makes about ¼ cup) 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ shallot, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon table salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients in bowl and let rest to blend flavors, about 10 minutes. Wrap in plastic wrap, roll into log, and refrigerate until serving.