Photo: Flickr/Meng He
Perhaps you know this, and perhaps you don’t, but former Microsoft chief technical officer Nathan Myhrvold is extremely creative in the kitchen.Two years ago he wrote a 2,400 page cookbook called Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking with Maxime Billet that costs as much as some people’s rent.
Now the pair has scaled down the book in a volume called Modernist Cuisine at Home, and inside that book is one of the strangest methods of cooking steak we’ve ever heard of, Access Atlanta’s John Kessler reports.
First you need an incredibly high quality cut of meat. That’s where all familiarity with this method ends.
Myhrvold writes that you must freeze the meat for around an hour until it’s hard. Meanwhile, you also heat a cast iron skillet until it’s blazing, blazing hot. Then you sear the frozen solid meat until it gets to that perfect grilled steak colour.
The last step is to put your steak in the oven at a very low temperature — like around 200 degrees, or on a bread warming setting. You’ll want to stick a thermometer in the meat so that you can monitor it and take the meat out of the oven when the thermometer reads 120 to 130 degrees.
I first tested this recipe with the kind of expensive steaks that Myhrvold designed it for. I took a 1¼-inch-thick, 18-ounce prime rib eye and a nearly inch-thick 14-ounce prime New York strip and tried not to despair as I shuffled them into the freezer, next to the box of Popsicles. After half an hour, these well-marbled steaks were as stiff as boards. I then slipped them, one by one, into a cast-iron skillet filmed with oil that had spent five minutes heating over a high flame.
My gas oven set to its lowest temperature of 150 degrees rarely registered below 168 degrees on the digital thermometer readout. But all the recipes said not to stress out over the exact temperature of the oven. After about an hour and 20 minutes, the internal temperature of the New York strip registered 126 degrees. After nearly two hours, it registered only 130 degrees. I was aiming for 133 degrees but, well, I wanted steak.
I swished the steaks around in the pan I had seared them in with some butter, salt, cracked pepper and a dash of Worcestershire until they glistened like something on a laminated menu picture.
The results? Pretty incredible. Both steaks came out just shy of medium rare, warm and tender.
Kessler says that he then tried the method with mediocre grocery store steaks, and of course, the results weren’t as impressive.
But that doesn’t surprise anyone.