The reverse-seared technique has become my go-to method for cooking larger steaks, prime-ribs, and even entire racks of lamb like this one here. The process takes out nearly all of the guess work that is associated with more traditional methods of cooking coveted cuts of meat. I’m talking searing first and then finishing in the oven. For some reason, this technique is still upheld as the tried-and-true way to perfectly cook expensive meat. Why? I have no bloody clue. Sadly, I was part of this group of the blind-leading-the-blind for a very long time.
I personally changed my mind a while ago when I first tried reverse-searing this Bison tomahawk that was gifted to me by the Honest Bison. The steak was very expensive and I was going to be damned if I messed it up, especially since it was for a recipe that I was writing for Men’s Fitness Magazine at the time. I did a bit of research on how to cook tomahawks and discovered some talk about the reverse-seared technique. No doubt someone thought of it after realizing that a sous-vide machine was one of the most expensive and impractical kitchen gadgets a home cook can purchase. Each recipe I found featured image after image of perfectly-cooked, medium-rare, wall-to-wall goodness. The process was also dead-simple so I figured I would give it a go. If you have a look at the images you’ll see that the reverse-seared technique did not disappoint. The steak came out perfectly medium-rare! It also tasted delicious!
The reverse-seared technique is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Instead of searing the meat first and finishing it in the oven, you slowly raise the internal temperature of the meat in a low-temperature oven before searing it over very high heat. You can finish it over a grill or in a cast-iron skillet. For these 8-bone racks of lamb I decided the grill was the best way to go but I think this would have been even better if seared in a skillet and basted with some ghee, garlic and rosemary. Next time!
The practical applications of the reverse-seared technique is actually very far-reaching. You can do this with a variety of meats. Not least of which is a beautiful rack of lamb. Like the bison tomahawk, racks of lamb are expensive and you don’t want to mess it up. I’m almost positive that if you follow these instructions you will create a spectacular finished product.
In terms of flavours, you may already know that I love to keep things simple and classic. Few things pair better with lamb than garlic and rosemary. Mint is an equally classic flavour pairing but I’m actually not that crazy about it here. If you’re in Canada and reading this, I encourage you to purchase locally-raised lamb that has been allowed to pasture and graze. Canadian lamb is some of the best in the world, and in Ontario we have some spectacular meat. It’s not as gamey flavoured as New Zealand or Australian lamb – which is something I quite enjoy.
Things You’ll Need for the Reverse-Seared Technique
- Meat Thermometer. This really won’t work unless you have a meat thermometer. For accuracy, I recommend getting a digital one like this model here. There is absolutely no need to get an expensive one. You’re better off spending that extra coin on a grass-fed, organic rack of lamb.
- A Cooling Rack and Baking Tray: You want air circulating around the meat so that it cooks evenly on all sides. This is easily achieved by placing it on an oven-safe cooling rack set over a baking tray. If you don’t have these, you want to make sure that the size of the cooling rack corresponds to that of the baking sheet beneath it. See here for an example of what I mean. This is also very important for easy clean up. When your done cooking, simply fill the baking tray with hot, soapy water and submerge the inverted cooling rack in it to ease off grease and any hardened pieces of meat/fat.
- A Grill or Cast-Iron skillet: If you don’t have a grill to sear the meat after it has slowly roasted in the oven, the next best thing is a cast-iron skillet. I always recommend this Lodge model because it’s inexpensive and really is the best bang-for-your-buck pan you can buy.
Give these recipe a go and let me know what you think in the comments below!
Reverse-Seared Rack of Lamb
6-8 bone rack of lamb
1 tbsp fresh rosemary – finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh garlic – finely minced or ground to a paste
1/4 cup EVOO
2 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
Day before cooking:
- To a small bowl, add chopped rosemary, garlic, lemon juice and EVOO – stir to combine. Pat lamb dry with paper towel and season all sides liberally with salt and pepper. Transfer lamb to a zip-top bag set within a bowl and pour in the marinade. Seal the top of the bag and gently massage the marinade around the lamb. Squeeze out all of the air from the bag and seal it tight. Transfer to refrigerator and let marinate 4 hours to overnight.
Day of cooking:
- Preheat oven to 250F.
- Place the rack of lamb bone-side down on a cooling rack set over a baking tray. Transfer to oven and roast 50-55 minutes or until internal temperature of the thickest part of the lamb reads *130F on a digital thermometer (*for medium-rare to medium centre).
- Meanwhile, preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat. Remove lamb from oven and sear on the grill for 4-5 minutes total or until you have formed a golden brown crust on all sides. Move the lamb around constantly to avoid burning.
- Transfer seared lamb to a cutting board and let rest 5-10 minutes before carving.