Thursday was steak for dinner. I decided to do a little experiment. I bought one dry-aged rib eye and one tenderloin. I cut the rib eye in half and then applied a liberal drizzle of kosher salt and pepper to each about two hours before dinner. One half of the rib eye went back into the fridge while the other half got a quick sear in an oil-coated cast iron skillet along with the tenderloin. The seared meats were then vacuum sealed and tossed into a sous vide bath (I started the tougher rib eye earlier than the tenderloin, which I put back in the fridge after vacuum sealing and cooling in an ice bath. Cooking time at 56° C was about 1 hour and 45 minutes for the rib eye and 45 minutes for the tenderloin, each about 1-1.5 inches thick.
The other half of the rib eye got a traditional sear on a hot grill, then was placed in a 400° F oven until it reached an internal temperature of about 135 °F/57° C.
While the traditional rib eye was resting, I removed the sous vide steaks from the water bath and patted them dry. I heated up my cast iron skillet and added a tablespoon of butter after the oil started smoking, then quickly seared the sous vide steaks for about 2 minutes total.
The rib eyes were close. The grilled version had a bit more charred flavor, but was tougher and not as evenly cooked. The tenderloin was hugely improved from my prior attempts, largely due to the sear in butter at the end. The sous vide technique was far easier and less finicky overall, and yielded a largely superior result. I was nervous about overcooking the butter, but I think the steaks could handle an even hotter sear next time – the butter can be truly smoking without making the steaks taste burnt.