There are plenty of ways to cook a steak, caveman style directly on coals, searing it directly until done, even sous vide, yeah boiling a steak is a thing these days.
By slowly bringing up the internal temp, you get perfectly even doneness throughout the whole steak and then we give it the final sear to create a crust on the outside for that extra flavor and texture.
Eat the steak on its own holding it by the bone like a caveman, or slice it up and serve with a side of grilled asparagus and mushrooms.
Why the reverse sear is the best way to cook a thick steak
For home grilling a thick steak you can’t beat the reverse sear method. It creates perfect results every time, no matter the cut of steak or the BBQ used.
Just make sure you are cooking a thick steak (1½ – 2 inches thick minimum) as it doesn’t work well on steaks that are thinner.
Rather than using guesswork, you cook the steak low and slow, slowly bring up a steak to 15 degrees under your target done temp, take it off the heat and hold it under some foil. Check out our guide to steak doneness here for more tips.
What I mean by holding the temp, we aren’t resting it as a reverse seared steak does not need resting as we have raised the internal temperature so slowly. You just need to get your grill or pan roaring hot as soon as you can and then sear it on either side and you are done, perfect steak time after time, after time.
I realize there are many ways to cook a steak and you can get great results using other methods but I feel this is the best way out of all the ways I’ve come across, to cook the perfect steak every single time.
Items that will help you cook these are:
- A hooded BBQ that can produce dual zone cooking (I’m using a 22” Weber Kettle)
- Lump charcoal
- Rub shaker
- Boning or trimming knife
- Instant read thermometer (I’m using a ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE)
- Grill grates or cast iron pan
Choosing the correct steak
Unfortunately, the reverse sear method cannot be used with just any size steak. It works best for steaks cut thicker than one and a half inches. That being said, when you cook a large, high quality steak like that, you can always share it like a mini roast.
The steak needs the thickness for the internal temperature to rise slowly. This helps cook the steak more evenly and allows for more precise control so you can take the steak off exactly when needed.
You will end up with no overcooked meat again, as long as you keep an eye on it.
The fact the internal temperature is rising at a slower rate than if you were searing your steak from the start like traditional methods, you have that precise control of being able to take it off the heat at the very exact time it is needed.
So any cut of steak is fine to use for the reverse sear method, as long as you can get a piece that is thicker than one and a half inches.
My go to size when I order my steaks is 2” thick. Not only is it a great feed, it loos so impressively on the BBQ.
You can’t go wrong with ribeye or sirloin. In this case I went for the tomahawk which doesn’t really add any flavor but looks cool, and there’s some evidence the bone helps protect the meat and stop it from cooking too quickly.
How to flavor your steak
The age-old question, how much is too much. I think a lot of people see posts online these days of people smothering their steaks with three different rubs after covering them in salt for hours. Not realizing they are looking at someone’s preparation for a steak cooking competition.
This is where the flavors need to be ramped up as each judge gets one bite of your steak, so the flavors have to be packed on. There is no way you could sit down and eat an entire steak that was prepped and cooked for a steak competition without feeling sick afterward.
So where do we draw the line? Some people feel a good steak needs nothing, others like some salt, more people feel salt and pepper is the way to properly season a steak. At the end of the day, it is the person eating it that dictates what is needed.
I like the standard SPG on my steaks, that is salt flakes, coarsely ground black pepper and granulated garlic. These three ingredients are roughly the same size and I use an equal part of each on my steaks.
How to season your steak
Didn’t we just cover that in how to flavor your steak? Nope, seasoning starts a lot earlier than most think and flavor is what is in that seasoning.
If you have the time, season your steak the day before, place it on a wire rack on a tray and season all sides evenly and leave uncovered in the fridge. This dry brining process will help dry out the outermost part of the steak and the dryer that is, the better the sear.
The salt will also draw out moisture, and then be dissolved and the steak will draw that moisture back in and this, in turn, will tenderise and flavor the steak overnight.
I never seem to think that far ahead these days, so I like to get the steak out of the fridge and season a good hour or two before cooking it. This gives the salt and steak enough time to start doing its thing.
Setting up the grill for dual zone cooking
I’m using a 22”
When the coals are all white, I’ll transfer these to one side of the cooking grate and add a couple of extra chunks of unlit charcoal.
I’ll place the grill back in and the lid on. I’m aiming for a temperature between 200°F and 250°F for the low and slow stage of the cook.
After the grill has had time to warm up for five minutes, I’ll place the steak on the opposite side of the grill to the lit fuel and also add a chunk of cherry wood for some extra smoky flavor.
I’ll also place my Grill Grates upside down over the lump charcoal to start warming them up. This is not needed, I just like the fact my grill grates stop flare-ups, you could use a cast iron pan for the same effect.
Managing the cook
I’ll put the lid back on, keeping the lid vent directly over the steak. This will draw the heat and smoke over the meat.
My target temperature is 15°F below what I want the steak finished at, I’m aiming for a medium-rare steak at 130°F, so I will be taking the steak off at 115°F, it will take roughly an hour to get to this temp, depending on the thickness of your steak and how hot your grill is.
As the internal temperature of the steak gets close to 100°F, I’ll light up a chimney starter ¾ full of high heat charcoal briquettes as these burns hotter and more consistently.
This is when I’ll put in my garlic butter mushrooms that I have in a tray and covered in a mix of melted butter, garlic, thyme, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. I’ll leave these in the BBQ in the cooler zone until the steak is fully cooked.
When the steak hits that 115°F mark, I’ll take it off the heat and hold it under some foil with a knob of butter. I’m not actually trying to or needing to rest the steak (we explain why that isn’t needed in our guide to steak myths).
As I have raised the internal temp slowly, there is no need or benefit of resting steak like you would when cooking a steak the more traditional hot and fast way. I’m merely holding the temp, so I can put the extra fuel in and warm up the grill grates for the searing part of my cook, I want the grill grates around 600°F.
This is when I put on my asparagus, it only needs 3 to 4 minutes per side, so placing them onto the hot grill grates, close the lid and check every minute or so and flip as needed. Take off the heat once all sides have good char marks on them.
Then place them into a tray and drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Once the grill grates are hot enough, I’ll place my steak on them and keep checking the internal temp with an instant-read thermometer. I’ll flip the steak around every minute, placing the lid back every time to lock in that heat. We are trying to create a good bark on every side.
This is called the Maillard reaction. It effectively is the chemical reaction when the proteins and sugars on your meat are exposed to high levels of heat, this gives us the caramelization we see and the extra depth of flavor.
Once the steak hits that perfect 130°F for medium-rare, take it off the heat along with the mushrooms and plate up with the asparagus and enjoy.
Steak serving suggestions
Generally, with any vegetables, roasted, steamed or baked would be a good choice.
I opted for some garlic butter mushrooms and char grill asparagus. Check out our post on side dishes that go great with steak for more ideas.
Garlic Butter Mushrooms
I grab a handful of mushrooms and place them into a baking tray, then I’ll mix up some melted butter, minced garlic, chopped thyme, balsamic vinegar and a good sprinkle of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
I’ll toss that and place it in the BBQ when the steak hits the 100°F mark. I’ll leave it in there until the steak has been seared.
Char Grilled Asparagus
I love asparagus and eating it chargrilled is a favorite of mine.
First things first, we need to remove the woody hard ends, So grabbing both ends of the asparagus, bend it and when it snaps, you can throw away the stalk end and keep just the edible head part.
Then to stop the asparagus falling through your grill and making it easier to turn quickly, thread them onto a skewer, piercing the lower part of the freshly created base of each stalk.
Now, these only need 3 to 4 minutes per side over direct heat, I tend to do this while the grill grates are warming up, then off they come and into a tray, a little olive oil and a good pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning.
Reverse Seared Tomahawk Steak With Garlic Butter Mushrooms and Grilled Asparagus
- 30 oz Angus tomahawk steak 2" thick
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp black pepper freshly ground
- 1 tbsp granulated garlic
Garlic Butter Mushrooms:
- 16 oz white button mushrooms
- 2 tbsp butter melted
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp fresh thyme chopped
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste
Char Grilled Asparagus:
- 2 bunches asparagus
- 2 tsp olive oil
- Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste
- Make SPG seasoning with equal parts of salt flakes, course ground black pepper and garlic granules.
- Lightly oil steak and cover with SPG seasoning.
- Set up BBQ for dual zone cooking, for reverse searing method by lighting up half of a chimney starter of fuel. Once fully alight, place in a charcoal basket and add a couple of chunks of unlit lump to just keep the heat going steady. Allow the grill to warm up for 5 to 10 minutes.
- (Optional) If using Grill Grates, place them upside down over lit fuel to warm up for the searing part of the cook.
- Place steak on cooler side of BBQ and cook at a temp of 200°F to 250°F, add some smoking wood to add another depth of flavour, I used cherry.
- While the steak is cooking, prep some mushrooms by placing them in a baking dish along with melted butter, minced garlic, freshly chopped thyme, vinegar, and mix thoroughly, season with kosher salt and black pepper.
- Now prep some asparagus, by grabbing either end of each stalk and bending until it snaps. Throw the stalk away and keep the head. Now thread them onto a skewer to make turning them easier.
- When the steaks internal temp reaches 100°F, light up another ¾ of charcoal and place mushrooms in the BBQ on the cooler zone.
- Once the steak hits 115°F, take it off the heat to rest it and put some butter on it and cover with foil. Add extra fuel to get the temp of 600°F plus ready for the searing of the steak.
- Use this extra heat to grill the asparagus on the grill grates, 3 to 4 minutes per side is ample.
- Once the asparagus is charred up, take it off the skewer and drizzle with olive oil and a good pinch of kosher salt and black pepper and place on the cooler zone of the BBQ to keep warm.
- Start searing the steak. Keep flipping the steak after each minute and monitor the internal temp with an instant read thermometer. Aim for 130°F internally for a perfect medium rare steak.
- Once the steak is ready, remove all from heat and serve immediately with the mushrooms and asparagus.