This is an especially big risk with steak, which you likely already cooked to your ideal temperature when you served it the night before. How can you keep your perfectly prepared medium-rare steak from turning into an unchewable rubber blob?
Believe it or not, it can be done. While steak is always better when cooked or grilled fresh, there’s no reason you can’t still enjoy leftovers the next day if you have them. Here are two tried-and-true options that will preserve as much flavor and texture as possible — one ideal and one back-up.
The Ideal Method: Slow Cook and Sear
In order to keep the most juices locked inside your steak, you’ll need to warm it up as slowly as possible. Luckily, your oven is a great tool to achieve this. Start by preheating to only 250 degrees F, then place your leftover steak on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. While the wire rack isn’t essential for getting good results, it does help the air to circulate around the steak, allowing for the most even warming. At this low heat, you’ll likely need to heat your steak for between 25 and 30 minutes, but take it out once the internal temperature reaches 110 degrees F.
Now for the second step: a quick sear. Heat a small amount of olive oil or butter in a pan over high heat and sear each side of your steak for no more than 60 seconds. This will lock in the juices and give you a nice, flavorful crust on the outside of your steak.
Lastly — and potentially most importantly — let your steak rest for about five minutes. Then, once you finally cut in to enjoy a bite, it will be perfectly warm and juicy.
The Back-up Method: Staggered Microwave Heating
If you don’t have easy access to an oven or stove top (say, in the office kitchen, for instance), all is not lost. It turns out it is possible to heat up steak in the microwave without allowing it to completely overcook and dry out. You just have to be intentional about your process.
First, choose the best dish for the job. While a plate will do, a deep dish — like Pyrex or a glass baking dish — will allow for better results. Make sure you include any saved juices from the initial cooking. Then, cover the dish lightly with plastic wrap or a sheet of parchment paper.
Now, the most important part: set your microwave’s power to 50 percent. Cook for 30 seconds at a time, flipping the steak after each interval, for a total of 2 to 3 minutes, stopping once your steak feels warmed through.
While the first method will yield the best results, slow microwaving will also help your leftover steak stay juicy and delicious. Of course, the better the cut, the better the taste, so don’t forget to buy quality from the very start.