There is much beauty to be found in a perfectly-seared steak. Dan Souza, senior editor and test cook at Cook’s Illustrated, has stepped forth to teach us how to properly cook steak without thawing it.
In the video above, Souza shows how he froze eight steaks, then thawed half of them in the refrigerator while leaving the other half frozen. He seared both sets of steak in a skillet for 90 seconds per side, then transferred them to a 275-degree oven until they reached medium-rare.
What was surprising was that the frozen steaks browned almost as quickly as their thawed counterparts in the skillet—and, even more remarkably, had a thinner band of gray, overcooked meat under the crust.
This is because the frozen steaks retain an incredible amount of moisture during cooking (on average, they lost 9% less moisture). Since a fully frozen steak measures around 0 degrees Fahrenheit, “The meat below the surface [of the oil] has a long way to go before it gets overcooked, while we can bring the exterior rapidly up to the very high temperatures we need for browning,” Douza explains.
He also suggests a different way of packaging steak before freezing it: in order to avoid dangerous splatter and high flare-ups when the frozen steak hits the pan, freeze the steaks as flat as possible, uncovered, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. This will dry up the surface and help it brown faster when seared. After it’s fully frozen, wrap it in plastic wrap and seal it in a Ziploc bag to store it.
Here are the instructions for cooking your properly frozen steaks:
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