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Cooking from frozen - the reverse sear method for steaks, roasts, pork chops, lamb, and chicken

Most of our customers at Whispering Meadows buy our natural farm meats in bulk quantities — which gives you the convenience of having a nice selection of beef, chicken, pork, and lamb in your freezer at all times.

But what if you didn’t take out a steak or roast last night to thaw, or you have last-minute plans and want to spontaneously cook a gourmet meat option?  One quick choice is to throw some frozen hamburger patties directly onto the barbeque…  but what if you want more of a high-end meal?

That’s where the reverse sear comes in.  You can make restaurant-quality meat dishes, direct from frozen, with very little effort.

Reverse sear is the preferred method of most high-end chefs, and it’s easy to do at home.  It’s a simple two-step process:

  1. Slow roast.
  2. Sear.

There are a few options for both of those steps, and you can adapt your method based on the equipment you have available.

1. Slow Roast

This is where you add just enough heat to bring your meat up to the level of doneness you prefer.  It takes care of both thawing and cooking, all in one step.

The ideal way to do this is sous-vide – in a temperature-controlled water bath, as we’ll explain – but you can also do it in your oven on the lowest temperature setting.

a) Slow Roast – the sous-vide method.  Once you start cooking this way, you’ll never go back!  This is where you use a water bath, set to the exact temperature you want your meat’s internal temperature to reach — for example, you may like 130°F for medium-rare beef, 125°F for pork chops, or 140°F for chicken breast.

Some Instant Pots have a sous vide function.  Another inexpensive setup is to use an immersion circulator such as an Anova, Wancle, or Instant in a Coleman cooler, pot, or other container.  It’s also possible, though it takes more attention, just to keep adding boiling water into a cooler with a thermometer to maintain the right temperature.

Add salt, pepper, and (optionally) crushed garlic to your meat, and seal it into a resealable food-safe bag, with all of the air squeezed out.  Drop it into the water bath, and check it from time to time with an instant-read thermometer until it reaches your desired internal temperature — usually around an hour for cut meats, or up to three hours for a roast.  The great benefit of this cooking method is that you can’t overcook the meat if you leave it in too long.

Remove the meat from its bag and let it rest at room temperature.

b) Slow Roast – the oven method.  If you don’t have a sous-vide option, this method works almost as well.  Just set your oven to its lowest possible setting – often 170°F – and turn on convection if you have it.  Add salt, pepper, and (optionally) crushed garlic to your meat, and place it on a rack, with a pan on a lower shelf to catch drippings.  Then either check it from time to time with an instant-read thermometer, or insert an oven thermometer into the meat once it’s thawed.  When it reaches your desired internal temperature, take it out and let it rest.

2. Sear

After you’ve slow-roasted your meat to bring it up to the right internal temperature, let it rest at room temperature, loosely covered in foil, for 10 to 20 minutes.  This lets the meat fibres reabsorb their juices — you want those juices in the meat, not running over your cutting board.

Next, dry the surface of your meat as well as possible.  A tea towel works well — you can wrap it around the meat for a minute, or pat it dry.  The more dry you can get it, the better sear you’ll get.

Searing is the last step before serving, so you’ll want to wait until just before your meal is ready, and serve immediately once the sear is done.  Since you’ve already let the meat rest, you don’t have to do it again after searing.

As with everything, there are a few different methods to get a good sear.  The key is to hit your meat with as much high heat as you can, in as short a time as possible.  You can do this on a barbeque, in a pan, or under the broiler.

a) Sear – barbeque method.  Most barbeques output more BTUs that you’ll ever get from your stovetop or broiler, so if you have this option then this is the recommended method.

Rub your meat with a little olive oil, and re-add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.  Crank your barbeque up to its maximum heat.  Put your meat on the grill, and turn frequently to get a nice even sear, including all edges.  You can also brush on some butter for the last minute to get even more crispiness.  Once you get a nice overall mahogany colour, serve immediately.

b) Sear – stovetop method.  Using a heavy pan – cast iron is ideal – heat a few tablespoons of olive oil until it’s starting to smoke.  With the heat on high, put your meat in, and turn it frequently to brown on all sides.  If you get too much smoke, turn the heat down a little, but try to keep it as hot as possible.  You can optionally add some butter for the last minute to get the best and crispiest browning.  Then when you have an all-over mahogany crust, serve immediately.

c) Sear – broiler method.  This is similar to the barbeque method, just upside down in your oven.  You’ll want to have a pan on a lower shelf to catch drippings, and have your meat on a rack high up near the broiler.  Let the broiler get to full heat, rub your meat with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and put it in.  You’ll want to watch it carefully and turn it to get even browning.  Add some butter near the end if you like, and serve immediately when ready.

The reverse sear method is easy, almost foolproof, and you can start directly from frozen.  Plus it will give you the most amazing, tender meat, cooked perfectly all the way through and with a great crispy crust.

Give it a try, and let us know how it goes!


P.S.  If you’d like to keep a supply of naturally-raised and organic meats in your freezer, now is a great time to order a BBQ Select box or a side of beef, a quarter hog, a box of lamb, and stock up on chicken.

We look forward to seeing you at the next drop-off or delivery!


Whispering Meadows has been serving Southern Ontario with naturally-raised and organic meats since 2003 — including Toronto and the GTA, Ajax, Barrie, Blue Mountains, Bruce Peninsula, Brampton, Burlington, Cambridge, Chatham-Kent, Etobicoke, Guelph, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Markham, Midland, Milton, Mississauga, Newmarket, the Niagara region, North York, Oakville, Orangeville, Orillia, Oshawa, Owen Sound, Pickering, Richmond Hill, Sarnia, Scarborough, Shelburne, Toronto, Vaughan, Wasaga, Whitby, Windsor, Woodstock, and surrounding areas.

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