"Half" cook rib-eye steak in SV before grilling?

OK, so I’ve got two gorgeous rib-eyes, about 2" thick each, unseasoned and already frozen in a bag. What I’d like to do is get them up to a mostly-cooked temp in the SV bath, then take them out, season them, and finish them on a grill. Most recipes I see say to cook up to 5-10ºF below your preferred temp, sear on the grill, and serve. I’m looking to keep them on the grill more than 2 minutes or so, for a much better sear and mouth feel.

I usually take steaks off at 110ºF and rest, as we like them true medium-rare, and that seems to be a lost art these days. These steaks will be much thicker than I’m used to grilling, so that’s why I want to combine a more low & slow grill (like 25 mins over medium heat for that size cut) with a SV period, and then maybe 5 minutes over high heat.

Any recommendations on what bath temp to use for this concept? Maybe 90ºF and then finish on the grill? Or is this a fool’s errand? Thanks!

Me, I’d still cook them fully in your SV at the right temperature for your desired level of doneness. Then, to provide a better “cushion” for a more prolonged sear, I’d plunge them into an ice bath. As they’re 2" thick, I think I’d leave them in there for about an hour. Then you should be able to have an ample sear (of course, you still dry the steaks thoroughly prior to throwing them on the grill).

Doing them SV at a lower temp than desired will leave you with a rarer centre - not something I think you would really enjoy.

Also, 90F is well inside the danger zone - pathogens still grow at that temperature. You have to get above 127F to start killing them off. (that’s why most sources tell you to not cook more than two hours if below 129F).

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Dustin, i think you are planning an expensive culinary disappointment. Most recipes are generally correct.

You are seeking an improved sear and mouth feel from more than 2 minutes over high heat. That sounds like charring instead of searing to me. If you usually cook steaks to 110ºF with sufficient carry over latent heat to get to true Medium-Rare, at least +20ºF, you are likey working with thin steaks. Thick steaks require a different technique.

Low & slow cooking in most grills is best done at the lowest heat setting, around 200ºF, or even lower depending on ambient temperature. That’s ideal for cooking a dry-brined thick steak destined for a substantial reverse sear finish if you continuously remotely monitor internal temperature. Introducing SV to this technique is only going to frustrate you and annoy your steaks.

Otherwise do as fischersd suggests cooking for 2 hours as you guessed to achieve temperature equilibrium and finish. It takes practice to get that technique successful.

Consider that restaurants have perfected the SV, - chilled hold, - grill technique to get consistently satisfying outcomes.

Appreciate the input! So I had them in the SV bath at 90º for two hours, then on the grill over high heat flipping and turning every two minutes, for 8 minutes. They came out nicely charred and at 110º. After resting for five mins or so, slicing them showed a beautiful rosy band about 1/4" thick in the center (the steaks themselves seemed to shrink down from almost 2" to around an inch and a half). I’d have to play more with the seasoning, since it was put on right before going on the grill, and I did forget to put a little oil on for an even better crust. May also use a cast iron pan for searing next time.

Thanks Dustin for sharing the helpful details of your mostly successful steak cook.

I am not surprised at the amount of shrinkage experienced with an 8 minute char finish. Some of that can’t be helped at that time and temperature, but it can be reduced by improving your technique. To reduce shrinkage flip more frequently, i found about 30 seconds is the optimum time.

Why’s that?
Consider that the moisture in your steaks, as in all cooking, moves away from the heat source. Thus in 2 minutes it comes to the surface and evaporates never to return. The idea is to drive the moisture back and forth inside the meat. Watch the surface. At the first sign of any moisture emerging, flip. Now you’re really cooking.

Cast iron sears/chars result in a slightly different surface texture than the grill although they are similar and satisfy most folks. If you’re doing two big steaks use a 12" pan if you have one. You want mass under those steaks. Some cooks here appear to be timid preheating their pans and report disappointing outcomes so they go and buy a flame thrower.
Not necessary.

Take ample time to preheat and please check the temperature before dropping those steaks in the pan. Guesswork is never part of precision cooking. Over most domestic heat sources it takes longer than you think. If you have an infrared thermometer handy you want at least 650ºF for the finish you’re expecting.

Easy on the oil, you don’t want to dilute the natural surface juices when searing. You want meat to iron contact. CI pans clean easily, but that’s another post.

No infrared, that’s OK, - just drop about a 1/4 tsp. of water in the center of the amply preheated pan and count the seconds until it disappears. About 3 seconds of those balls of water dancing around is what you want for your kind of char.

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The ice bath is an excellent suggestion, especially considering that the 90 degree cooking temperature is not safe. I can see this technique working when you have guests. Sous vide at 135 for a couple of hours, drop them in an ice bath, then when your guests arrive you can throw them on the grill and have them ready in no time. Just be sure to have your side dishes ready, too.

I haven’t tried chilling meat between the SV and the sear. Won’t the steaks be cold inside after searing? Or if you sear long enough to reheat the meat, will it be unevenly cooked?

The quote is from chatnoir, so you can pretty much take it to the bank.

Thank you. I will try it.