In 2012 I won a copy of something I had placed on my wish list the minute it was published: “Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking.” It is a five-volume wonder that’s found in the collections of restaurants around the world; I first got my hands on it in Germany, when I was working at Amador. My copy was back in the U.S., at my parents’ house, where it had been shipped.
One of the first things I did when I returned to the U.S., in 2013, was open the box containing the books and begin reading. (The volumes are stored in an acrylic case, and if there is someone you really love who loves to cook you should get this for them. It costs about $500 but is worth every cent.)
One of the recipes in “Modernist Cuisine” that I have made countless times is a method of cooking steak at low temperature. It produces tender and delicious meat. Yesterday I put a bone-in rib eye in the freezer, initial prep for Low-Temp Oven Steak. After 1.5 hours I took the steak from the freezer and rubbed it with cooking oil (safflower) and sprinkled some salt and pepper on it. I then seared it on all sides with a kitchen torch, making sure to pay attention to the fat on the sides of the meat.
My gas oven’s lowest temperature setting is 170F – the method author Nathan Myhrvold and his team perfected uses 160F – but that’s not an issue. Use 160F if you can; if not, just use the lowest setting on your range. I inserted the probe of my digital thermometer into the thickest part of the rib eye and set the unit to notify me when the internal temperature of the steak reached 134F.
The rib eye was ready in less time that I anticipated (the cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the meat and the torching intensity), so I didn’t have time to make the spinach dish I had planned, but who cares? I removed the rib eye from the oven and put it on a cutting board to let it rest. After about five minutes I sliced the meat, drizzled melted butter over it, then sprinkled some Maldon salt on top. As always, it tasted very good – the searing with the torch created that flavor we all love on a steak, and the slow and low cooking resulted in extreme tenderness.
I am making a list of different cuts of beef to prepare using this method, and this is the “Modernist Cuisine” recipe that is up next: 72-Hour Braised Short Ribs.