Thermal Shock Porterhouse Steak

Thermal Shock Porterhouse Steak

I’ve chased the perfect steak for years and it turns out the secret is to use a pizza stone and a freezer. My work here is (finally) done.

I’ve been receiving a great deal of comments regarding possible cracked pizza stones. Please note this steak is not frozen, it’s deep chilled, however, I’ve tested frozen steaks on pizza stones and have yet to see a crack.

Pizza stones should always be heated with the oven, meaning you don’t heat the oven then put in the stone. That could result in cracking.

Thermal Shock Porterhouse Steak
Serves 2
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  1. One 1 1/4-inch-thick porterhouse steak, preferably grass fed (at least 1.5 pounds total)
  2. 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon for the leeks
  3. 4 large leeks, dark green sections trimmed
  4. 2 ounces warm Sizzle Butter, divided (recipe below)
  1. 1 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  2. 6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  3. 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  4. 6 leaves fresh sage
  5. 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  1. An hour before cooking: Move an oven rack to its highest position just under your broiler. Set your pizza stone on this rack and heat the broiler to high. Remove the steak from the refrigerator, season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt on all sides and freeze the steak on a cooling rack.
  2. While the steak is chilling: Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and rinse well under cool water. Pat dry and and brush with 2 tablespoons of the sizzle and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  3. After an hour: Carefully slide the oven rack out, position the steak in the middle of the pizza stone. Slide the the rack back under the broiler and cook for 4 minutes. Slide the oven rack out again and flip the steak and cook for an additional 3 minutes for medium rare (cook an additional minute for medium).
  4. Remove the steak to a heat proof plate and rest for 5 minutes. While the steak rests, set the leeks cut side down on the pizza stone and broil for 4 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven. Slice the steak and drizzle with the remaining Sizzle Butter.
  1. Melt a pound of unsalted butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Add the herbs and slowly cook until the bubbling ceases and the liquid turns clear, 30-40 minutes. Strain and cool, being sure to leave any solids in the bottom of the pan. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month
  1. Don't have a porterhouse or prefer a different cut? No worries.
  2. 1. Two New York Strip Steaks (1 1/2 inch thick, around 10 ounces each): 30 minutes in the freezer, then cook 3 minutes per side. Rest the steak for 3 minutes.
  3. 2. Boneless Rib Eye Steaks (1 1/2 inch thick, around 12 ounces): 30 minutes in the freezer, then cook 3 minutes per side. Rest the steak for 3 minutes.
Alton Brown Thermal Shock Steak Recipe


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  1. 1

    Don’t ever use a ceramic pizza stone. Use the steel ones. Now if you don’t like the simplicity of sous vide you don’t like the science of sous vide. About to add a second one but the compromise is putting the corn or carrots in at 183 and then taking them out.

  2. 2

    Simpler method: BBQ your steak outside when the temperature is -30. Just leave your steak by the grill while it is heating and it’ll be perfectly chilled when the grill is ready. Downsides: Possible frostbite for the chef and it takes a loooong time to heat the BBQ when it’s that cold.

  3. 3

    Anyone considering this technique should also refer to the serious eats website, where they talk about essentially the same thing, but with a baking steel. The baking steel has issues of its own. It’s expensive, it’s really heavy, and, the suggested method of heating it on the stovetop to 550 degrees and then picking it up and placing it under the broiler – well, it’s not for the faint of heart. On the other hand, you don’t have to worry about cracking it, and there’ll be no shortage of thermal shock for your steak. Combining AB’s method of chilling the steak, but with a baking steel instead of a pizza stone, may be a viable alternative.

  4. 7

    Those that own Pampered Chef stones, if you remember the use and care instructions you know this is not the recipe to try with your Pampered Chef stoneware.
    First of all, the instructions that come with your stones tell you NOT to pre-heat the stone, second – your stone should be at least 2/3 covered, last – do not place it under the broiler or over 450F. That being said, all stoneware pieces have a 3 year warranty. You could always call Pampered Chef directly (not the consultant you bought it from) and see if they will replace it if you are in your 3 year window. PS – don’t try this recipe with the Rockcrock either

  5. 10
    Harry L.

    There’s a variation on this theme that I have adopted that always gives a perfect char. I hard freeze the steak, usually at least a full day before the meal.
    I remove the steak from the freezer and immediately place it in a warm cast iron pan which has been given a light coating of canola or similar oil. I then char the steak on all sides with a propane (not MAP!) torch (Berzomatic TS 4000). Following the char, the steak is lightly coated with kosher salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper and is now ready to be cooked.
    It should be cooked slowly either in the oven or over a low flame on the stove top and monitored with an instant read thermometer. Turned frequently, the steak will be uniformly cooked according to your taste. 125F for medium rare. You can also do the charring in the morning and the cooking in the evening! The instant read thermometer, however, is essential.

  6. 12

    My wife and I host the family for Sunday night dinner, usually 13 in all. having everything ready together is near impossible. What is the best way to “keep” the preparations in the typically equipped American home kitchen? 8-10 ribeye steaks for instance. Thx, Ben

  7. 14

    As we don’t have a pizza stone and our heaviest pot is only safe to 500F we followed the directions the same except the oven was set to 475F and we did not use the broiler. We like our steaks RARE so the cooking time ended up being about the same as he states in the recipe. I feel like the people with cracked pizza stones didn’t look to see what temp their pizza stones were rated for. Most I have seen are only rated at 450F and broilers get much hotter than that. In any case our steaks turned out perfect, in my opinion it is really difficult to cook an actually rare steak, super chilling the steak I think made it easier to attain. Great job as always, Alton!

  8. 15

    As many other people have experienced, this cracked my (well seasoned, good quality) pizza stone that I’ve had and used for years.

    That aside… This recipe was only okay. The sizzle butter was sort of bland and reminded my boyfriend and I of Thanksgiving, which is nice but not what we want on a steak. For the veg, we ended up using asparagus instead of leeks because leeks were unavailable at our grocery store, and the butter tasted really nice with that.

    As for the steak itself, it was nicely cooked. I’m not sure if this had anything to do with the pizza stone method or just the fact that we are both in the culinary field and know how to properly cook a steak. All things considered I probably wouldnt bother with this recipe again – a lot of work for an “okay” tasting steak.

    • 17

      I tried the recipe yesterday. As I mentioned earlier, I have a pizza stone for my ceramic grill which is much higher grade than the Pampered Check stone, so no damage to the pizza stone. As for the steak, I had to cook it closer to 7 minutes per side instead of 4. I don’t know if my freezer is colder than Alton’s or if my oven broiler is not as hot, but medium rare was about 14 minutes for me. The steak was good, but not the best I’ve ever had. I think I will go back to the ceramic grill. Thanks for the idea Alton! Keep ’em coming!

  9. 18
    Randy Robinson

    How many folks were using a Pampered Chef stone? I’m guessing many of you were. When I bought my ceramic grill, I wanted aPizza Stone, and I did a lot of research to determine which stones would hold us to really high temps (700 deg F). It turns out that Pampered Chef stones will crack, so you have to buy one like a Big Green Egg or the equivalent to survive that type of heat. Try a high quality stone, and I think you will be very happy.

  10. 19
    Dom Best

    Used a baking steel instead of pizza stone. Got two 1.5 porterhouse prime steaks for 4 people at a high-end butcher. Did an extra minute and a half after turning since we like them medium. It was perfection. Best steak I ever made at home.

  11. 25

    Well I just tried this recipe and followed the cooking instructions to a t and my pizza stone is now cracked in half. I made sure to heat the stone in the oven as Alton said and my steak was not frozen. I don’t recommend trying this unless you have a pizza stone to spare 🙁

  12. 26

    How about a piece of granite or marble used for flooring? I have put a pad or two on all my meats when I take them off the heat for 30 years, steaks, pork chops and even chicken because it adds flavor and adds moisture to the meat.

  13. 27

    This is ridiculous. Did Alton buy stock in Pizza stones? How awful to post this without warnings about the stones cracking or breaking. Mr. brown are you serious?

  14. 28

    Used a baking steel instead of pizza stone. Got two 1.5 porterhouse prime steaks for 4 people at a high-end butcher. Did an extra minute and a half after turning since we like them medium. It was perfection. Best steak I ever made at home.

  15. 29
    Katy Hoover

    Excellent steak…BUT my Pampered Chef pizza stone, that aways stays in the oven, broke in several pieces. Very expensive steak, Mr. Brown. I suggest removing the recipe & replacing all the dead pizza stones as a result.

  16. 31

    Delicious, but a gigantic mess! Small grease fire in the oven and the smoke alarm went off. I would make it again, but with a sheet pan on the rack under the stone.

  17. 32
    That Guy

    Fo or not to Fo that is the question. This sounds really interesting, but I’d hate to break the pizza stone. I wonder how a big cast iron griddle would work as a substitute?

  18. 33

    Alton, you’re jumping the shark with this one. There is no reason to risk the cracked stone and possible oven fire, it’s overly complicated to boot. Cast iron is 87 times better and there is much less risk of the stone “exploding” from the thermal shock. Btw, lots of purse swinging going on at arfcom over this…

  19. 34
    Leslie K.

    I made this version of Alton’s steak on a pizza stone in the oven. The steak was perfect, tender, juicy and flavorful. However, my pizza stone cracked, and there is a pool of grease at the bottom of my oven, and the smoke alarm went off, scaring the neighbors. Still worth it, tho….

  20. 35

    Did it tonight and steaks were great. Pizza stone did not crack but turned black where steaks touched it. Left it in oven to self-clean (always do this), but smelled acrid and chemical and set off my smoke alarm. Had to stop oven cleaning process. Any ideas on how to clean stone? My guess is it will never lose the meat smell and will have to replace it for bread and pizzas.

  21. 36

    Pizza stone cracked before we got the steak in the oven. Followed the directions exactly. I think it’s too close to the broiler. Won’t try this again. Went back to the trusty cast iron.

  22. 37

    Why a pizza stone and not cast iron? I’m not sure I want butter removing the porous properties of my pizza stone. Any thoughts on that folks?

  23. 38

    The concept works well but our pizza stone cracked in half immediately too. What’s the fix here? Are we all using the wrong kind of pizza stone? Is there something else we can use?

  24. 42

    Cooked this last night and it turned out great! We used Ribeye instead of Porterhouse because we couldn’t get Porterhouse in the correct thickness. It turned out a perfect medium rare with a nice sear on the outside. No problems at all with the stone cracking. We leave the stone in the oven all the time anyway, unless we need the space. The sizzle butter is delicious, although we have quite a bit leftover, but I’m sure we will put it to good use.

    • 44

      Kevin a T bone and a Porterhouse are the same cut of meat. A T bone becomes a Porterhouse when the filet side is larger then an 1and 3/4 inches.

  25. 45
    Michael MacDonald

    Interesting. I like my steaks rare, so I would think that, maybe, 1.5 – 2 hours in the freezer, and possibly less cook time.

  26. 47

    Gonna have to try this! Did a twice fried porterhouse for my parent and myself this fall and they loved it! this sounds even better and way less work!

  27. 48

    I know Alton is not a big fan of kitchen gadgets but I have the perfect stone for this steak. In march Pampered Chef is coming out with the Rockcrok grill stone. If you are not familiar with this stone ware it is great. It goes from the stove top to the oven, broiler, grill, and microwave. They have three different sizes, one is a dutch oven. The grill stone coming out in March is just like the round pizza stones. (Oh and these stones do not have to be seasoned and are dishwasher safe by the way.) The only reason why I mentioned kitchen gadgets is because Pampered Chef has a lot of gadgets you don’t need if you love to cook, but they do have some other items that are not bad.

    • 51

      Not quite, ghee is done when the solids brown, after the butter has foamed twice. Also, ghee definitely doesn’t have herbs in it. This sounds fantastic, however. Like a reduced maitre d’hotel butter.

  28. 52

    Gotta try this! First the stone at full temp carries more energy than a cold steak and will not crack, my stone is regularly used on the grill at 700 degrees. And seriously, who follows AB and doubts his techniques?!

    • 56

      Totally agree! Having grown up on a cattle ranch in the Midwest, I have done blind taste tests on grass-fed vs grain-fed steak; there is a very drastic difference! Grain-fed Angus or Hereford are what is most commonly found in your top tier steak houses. Please don’t give me the Kobe bedtime story… heard it, tried it, can’t compare to a grain-fed Black Angus steak!

  29. 57

    And I wonder even if the stone doesn’t crack this is a one shot deal because the steak fat will essentially seal the porous stone the first time. Yeah, I’m thinking this is not such a good idea. I’d try the bottom of my heaviest oven safe pan or cast iron skillet but not this.

  30. 58

    Can someone explain the science of leaving the broiler on for an hour? I figure you can’t get anything hotter than the temp you set the oven to or what it’s rated to get no matter how long you have it on, and it should reach that temp in under 15-20 minutes easily.

    • 60

      In an electric oven, the element is the only thing that heats to temperature quickly, you want to get the roof of the oven, the inner walls, everything hot which takes time. If yours is a gas broiler, the burner is really just heating the roof of the oven, it’s the roof that radiates the heat that cooks the food, so it’s even more important.

  31. 61

    I’m pretty sure most of the pizza stones I’ve seen had a temperature limit below the 550 degrees my broiler runs at. At putting a frozen steak on a hot stone would probably shatter it. Perhaps the main disconnect here is that a home cook probably has a <.5" pizza stone while you might find a 1.25-2" stone in a food network kitchen.

    Hasn't Bobby Flay been doing stuff like this with a cast iron pan on a hot grill? I've done it that way many times and its a great way to mimic very high temp grills in restaurants, as the pan gets up to 700+ degrees, holds a lot of therms and provides solid-solid temp transfers rather than air-solid that a grill does.

  32. 64

    I would love to have an explanation as to why this works so very well? Why does it work better than anything else? What separates it from other tried and true methods?
    Oh, and by the way, I love you Alton!! 🙂

    • 65

      To me it looks like the big advantage of cooking a steak this way is it will be hard to get it wrong. With the outside of the steak properly chilled once you place it on the stone it will brown the outside but it won’t have time to overcook the inside. I’m not sure what else is gained from cooking it this way.

  33. 66

    If Alton uses the stoneware he recommended on Good Eats, then we are talking a paving stone from the garden section at Lowe’s. At over an inch thick, it might handle it.

  34. 69
    Steve Piekarski

    Alton, you need to try the reverse sear method that is becoming very popular now. You get a good crust on the outside, and the inside will be the same doneness from top to bottom, not just in the center

  35. 71

    Instead of a pizza stone, if you cannot find real “firebrick, try 9 unglazed terracotta tiles arranged in a square. Inexpensive and more resistant to cracking.

  36. 73
    B. Williams

    As someone mentioned above, the cracking usually occurs with a less than quality pizza stone. I’d been through several until I bought a professionally quality stone. That said, for this project, I would rather use the cast iron griddle plate that came with my stove

  37. 74

    I broke a pizza stone simply by putting a second frozen pizza on it after baking the first, so I’m definitely not going to try this. Thermal shock and ceramics do not go together.

  38. 77
    Matt K

    stone heats up for an hour under the broiler. you want that stone to be 1000 degrees+….essentially as hot as you can get it…probablly don’t need as long with gas stove…but it won’t hurt.
    don’t use cast iron in there because the seasoning will burn away, and leave bad tastes on your steak.

    freeze the steak so it doesn’t burn before finishing cooking hitting a 1k+ degree stone. by freezing only an hour, the middle of the steak is not frozen yet, but the outside will be hard. that way, you’ll get pretty even cooking. (even shorter freezing time for boneless steaks)

    As for the thermal shock, i’d be worried about the stone cracking/breaking as some folks reported. i think the baking steel would be the better medium for this.

  39. 79

    CI magazine suggests using a rack over a (full and blazing) charcoal chimney for a full char with a partially cooked steak. That works well, as it’s usually done outdoors. AB’s idea here also looks great, but I don’t have Industrial ventillated kitchen, which appears necessary. For those of us in cooler climates, this’ll have to wait for more open window weather.

  40. 81
    Ed Prince

    I’ve used the frezzer pre cooking for steak and hamburgers for years. And a very hot broiler or cast iron pan. Resting the meat is a very important step, I remove from the heat and quickly cover with foil sealing around the container or plate. Timing is everything, just a little too long on the heat will change the doneness quite a bit. Ageing is also a great way to get the most tender and flavorful stake. I buy whole ribeyes about 30 lbs each cut them thick cover with rocksalt and hang in the garage during cold months. Of course you can cut thin strips season lightly his ever you like and make high protein low fat beef gerkie. (How ever you spell it) OK, now I’m hungry.

    • 83
      Matthew Mark Miller

      Depends completely on the quality of the stone. If — like me — you were suckered into a lot of Pampered Chef stoneware, you’re probably going to crack it. That stuff can’t take hit shock. I discovered that misting a french loaf.

      I keep that cracked pizza stone around for this kind of experiment…two pieces of hot stone are about as good as one piece, and you won’t care if it cracks a second time.

  41. 86

    I’m a big AB fan but I wish he would describe the science behind things like this. It seems that to often lately he puts things like this out there that need more information.

  42. 87

    Frankly, I’m stunned. Stunned, I tell you!

    Who would’ve thought people read AB and question his genius? I must assume you’re new to this planet.

    • 88
      David Schmunk

      I generally don’t know that I want a porterhouse several hours in advance. And even if I do, I usually don’t have the time to go through the laborious process this method requires.

      No sir, I will stick with a rocket-hot iron skillet, a 400 degree oven, and a dash of kosher salt. – Works every time, and in only a few minutes.

      I think even AB would agree that sometimes, good enough is good enough.

      • 89

        Several hours? I mean the butter can be kept on hand or make while the oven is on and steaks on freezer. This should take you just a 1 hour and 15 minutes tops. I’m sure there are plenty of things that are “good enough” but spending an hour on something might be worth it but won’t know unless you try……

  43. 97

    Don’t think “Grass Fed” is a preferable at all. Part of the flavor is the fat. Grass fed beef is extremely lean. I prefer the marble you get with grain fed.

    • 101

      You’re getting the stone extremely hot. Cooks illustrated recommends the same procedure for homemade pizza. That way you get a really good sear As the stone is so hot the steak won’t cook it.

  44. 105
    Jeff H.

    A cast iron skillet is generally seasoned with a cooked layer of fat. It’s mostly carbon. Mostly. Putting it under high broil for an hour would rip the seasoning off and fill your house with acrid smoke.

    That’s ONE of the reasons he’s using a stone. I’d also be worried about shocking the stone and cracking it though. It’s happened to me before. But AB is no slouch, and it’s not April 1.

  45. 106

    Doing this on a Baking Steel would be PERFECT. I have the griddle and am going to try it. Can’t hurt a 3/8″ slab of steel with temp shock like you can stone.

  46. 107

    While I love a steak cooked in pretty much any way shape or form you can think of; rare, well done, super well done… sometimes raw. The “best” I classify it as the top one in a few categories, let’s say: time to prep/cook, taste, texture, juiciness, and just the overall experience. I gotta say the “best” way to cook a steak for me has been in one of those Hamilton Beach Panini Press sold at Wallyworld for $30 bucks… this little apparatus can cook a perfectly well cooked steak depending on your like, in about 3 minutes and to PERFECTION! I love it. Cooks both sides at the same time and leaves it seared on the outside, yet nice and pink, juicy, yummy on the inside. I’ve never cooked with the George Foreman grill, but probably you can get the same results with it.

    Now for the “best” steak, depending on your like we have to do most of the work on the back side and not so much on the cooking side. First, are you buying a steak graded Select (SE), Choice (CH), or if you have more money a Prime (PR). Second, how aged it is… a butcher friend of mine told me to look at the bubbles in the blood, at least in the vacuum-packed steaks… let it sit in the coldest most undisturbed spot in your fridge until you start seeing bubbles come out from the blood, each day increasing until you see a fair amount of bubbles in it (this will be congruent with the amount of bacteria that are chomping down on the meat fibers to turn them into a super soft and juicy piece of meat); the longer the better and right before it goes bad… timing is everything; a good average wait time is about two months from the pack date, and of course how many temperature fluctuations in the fridge you have may impact the life. Finally, the seasoning part… season to taste of course, but no salt makes a huge difference. I’ve noticed how absolutely no salt makes the steak very flavorful, and when you add coarse salt afterwords, each bite turns into heaven.

    Just my two cents… gotta try the pizza stone for sure!

  47. 109

    Sounds like this could result in an amazing steak. Unfortunately, I do not believe it is safe to run a household oven on broil for an hour (sincere risk of burning your damned house down). And dropping a frozen steak on a super-heated stone? Thanks, but I’ll continue to use the grill or the cast-iron pan.

  48. 113

    As soon as I put the steak on the stone, the stone exploded into a million pieces.
    I could have been seriously injured. Thanks for the trolling.

    • 117

      anything to get it up and away from other things in the freezer. Better if it is open like a cooling rack, but if you don’t have one you could cut holes in a cheap semi-permanent container like the glad or ziploc brands and tip it upside down so it holds the steak in the middle of the freezer? don’t use the cover of the container, just the container itself and cut holes in it.

      • 120

        I always understood that the rationale for the room-temperature steaks was so that you didn’t need the longer cooking time and risk over-cooking the outer zones. Why do we want longer and hotter cooking time in this case? What’s different about the broiler and stone compared to pan-seared/oven finished or grill that make longer and hotter exposure more desirable?

  49. 123

    Sounds awesome, Alton! Can’t wait to try it! I, too, have chased the perfect steak for years! By the way, JB, it sounds like you need to relax and enjoy a delicious steak… 🙂

  50. 124

    Running the broiler for an hour while the steak freezes? That’s what I’m interpreting from directions, but it seems like the oven/pizza stone wouldn’t need that long to heat up?

  51. 125

    I would not want the steak to ruin my stone. My stone is well seasoned after time. I can see running up to Lowes and getting a smaller yard squared stone and trying this, but never with my main stone.

  52. 126

    I was just thinking… I could use my cast iron griddle for this instead of a pizza stone as I don’t own a pizza stone and have yet to find the right kind of tiles to buy and use in my oven.

  53. 133
    DH Brown (no (known) relation)

    I’ll have to give this a go, but I will say I’m pretty happy with the cast iron pan method you’ve suggested previously.

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