The Tastiest Way to Make a Steak
Before I purchased my Traeger I didn’t understand what the big deal was. Why do I need to spend hours smoking a steak when I can cook it for a few minutes on my grill? If you’re like me, you probably think your steaks off the grill are better than anything you can buy at one of the major steakhouses. That’s definitely true, but I have a secret for you. The tastiest way to make a steak is by cooking it on your smoker. In this article, I’m going to teach you about the reverse sear steak.
Misconceptions About Cooking a Steak on Your Smoker
One of the misconceptions I had about using a smoker to cook a steak, is that you can’t crank the heat up high and sear the steak. That’s actually not true! You can get a fantastic sear with a pellet smoker, especially if you have a cast iron skillet.
Read on to learn about cooking a reverse sear steak, and why I’ll never cook steaks on a regular grill again!
Selecting Your Steaks
When you’re picking out a steak, there are some things you need to look out for. There are a variety of cuts available, and picking out the perfect steak can be overwhelming if you’ve never done it before. The best tasting smoked steaks will have some good marbling – the small specks of white in the ribeye pictured above – and a decent amount of thickness to them. I like my steaks at around 1 – 1 1/2″ thick. That marbling in the meat will dissolve into the surrounding meat when you cook the ribeye, resulting in a premier flavor experience.
I like the ribeye cut, and a standard ribeye will weigh right around 16 oz. Now I understand that most people aren’t going to eat a whole 16 oz steak by themselves, but that doesn’t mean you should cut your steak in half before you cook it. Also, don’t trim that layer of fat around the outer edge. You don’t have to eat it, but I promise you, that layer of fat will contribute some delicious flavor to the end result.
I’m getting ahead of myself… After you’ve selected your steaks, it’s time for some prep work.
The Steak Brine
The first step to smoking a steak is to take it out of the fridge and put it on a grilling rack. Place the grilling rack on a cookie sheet, and then sprinkle the steak on all sides with salt. After salting the steak put it back in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Some people like to skip this step, but I wouldn’t! By salting the steak hours before, you are giving the salt time to work its way into the meat, holding onto moisture and allowing for a much juicier steak. If you are looking for the tastiest way to make a steak, don’t skip this step!
Smoking the Steak
You can leave the salted steak in a refrigerator for up to 12 hours, but 2 hours is usually enough time for the salt to work its magic. When you’re ready to cook, turn your smoker on to the smoke setting. While you’re waiting for your smoker to get going sprinkle some more salt and pepper on the surface of the steak.
Put your steak in the smoker, and let it smoke until the internal temperature is 100 degrees. If you’re working with a thicker cut of meat – 2″ plus in thickness – you’ll want to take the internal temperature up to 125 degrees.
The temperature of my Traeger on the smoke setting is around 150 degrees, and this process usually takes around one hour.
Time to Sear
This is when the magic happens! When your steak gets to the target internal temperature, pull it off the grill and tent it with foil, and turn up the temperature of your smoker to 400 degrees. If you have a cast iron skillet, put it in the smoker while it’s warming up.
The cast iron skillet gives you more surface area for the sear, creating a more even crust. If you have one, I strongly recommend using it for your steaks! Right before you put your steak in the skillet, add a tablespoon of butter.
Once the smoker is at 400, put your steak back in. After 3 minutes flip the steak, and let it cook for an additional 3 minutes. Pull it from the smoker after the 6 minutes of total sear time and wrap it tightly with foil. The tastiest way to make a steak does not include cutting into right after you pull it from the smoker! Let your steak rest for at least five minutes. If its a thicker cut of meat you can let it rest for up to 20 minutes.
Resting the steak allows all the juices in the meat to redistribute, giving you tasty flavor throughout.
How to Know When Your Steak is Done
There are a lot of different ways to know when your steak is ready to come off the grill, but the most reliable way is to use an instant-read thermometer.
I use a Thermoworks Thermapen MK4, and I love it. The temperature readout is almost instant. Anytime I make steaks I get a quick internal temp readout using my Thermapen after 45 minutes of taking on smoke, and then after the first flip.
I pull my steaks at 130 degrees for medium-rare, and I pull my wife’s steaks at 145. The Thermapen makes it easy to know EXACTLY what the temp is.
Serve Your Steak Oscar Style
Now at this point, you could just call it a day and serve your steaks up and accept all the kind words you are sure to receive from your guests on how delicious the steak is. By all means, if you want to do that, go ahead. But if you really want to impress, serve your steak Oscar Style. Wait, you don’t know what Oscar Style is?
What is Oscar Style?
Oscar Style means you serve the steak with blanched Asparagus tips and crab meat with a bearnaise sauce on top. For some people, it might sound like too much, but trust me when I say, this is the ultimate steak experience.
The flavor of the bearnaise, crab, and asparagus is the perfect complement to any well-made steak. My wife introduced me to Oscar Style on one of our first dates out to a steak restaurant, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Time to Eat!
After your steak has rested, serve it along with a baked potato and some green beans. I know this recipe sounds simple, but I promise you, the reverse sear steak is the best steak you will ever eat.
How to Reverse Sear a Steak
My favorite way to make a steak on my smoker is using the reverse sear method
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp butter
- Put your steak in the smoker, and let it smoke until the internal temperature is 100 degrees. If you're working with a thicker cut of meat - 2" plus in thickness - you'll want to take the internal temperature up to 125 degrees.
- When your steak gets to the target internal temperature, pull it off the grill and tent it with foil, and turn up the temperature of your smoker to 400 degrees. If you have a cast iron skillet, put it in the smoker while it's warming up.
- Right before you put your steak in the skillet, add a tablespoon of butter.
- Once the smoker is at 400, put your steak back in. After 3 minutes flip the steak, and let it cook for an additional 3 minutes. Pull it from the smoker after the 6 minutes of total sear time and wrap it tightly with foil.
- Let your steak rest for at least five minutes. If its a thicker cut of meat you can let it rest for up to 20 minutes.