Steak – the purest of all the carnivorous delights. Something many will class as their first choice on restaurant menus and something many others will list among their fantasy final meals.
It can be shockingly expensive, take the Wagyu beef, for instance. Wagyu cows are raised on a beer diet and massaged from birth – in a restaurant, a steak will set you back upwards of £50.
It is unlikely that you will be using this breed of cow for your home cooking – steak is something very difficult to get right on your own. Perhaps that is why it is so popular on restaurant menus. Either way, here are some tips to get your meat as close to perfect as possible.
Keep it thick
The thicker the steak the better. This helps you achieve a nice crust on the outside without overcooking the middle.
Leave it be
Mad-gastro-scientist Heston Blumenthal recommends leaving your steak for two days once you have taken it out of the packet. Leave it on a shelf in the fridge with a plate underneath it as the air around it will begin the process of drying it out. Before cooking, allow it to return to room temperature by leaving it out of the fridge for a couple of hours.
Turn, turn, turn
Keep the steak moving. While most packet instructions will give you a guide as to how long each side should take, don’t leave each side to cook in turn. Keep turning so it cooks evenly – about 15 to 20 seconds each should work. This allows you to form a crust without losing the lovely pink middle.
Hot pan, or not
Not everyone will agree, but a hot pan is the best way to cook a steak – especially if you enjoy a nice charred crust and don’t want to overcook the insides. If you prefer not to have a charred ourter, a medium heat will probably do.
Make sure you salt the steak at least 40 minutes before you cook it. If you salt too soon, all the moisture will be brought to the surface of the steak – the process is reversed if left for a while. The salt breaks proteins down and tenderizes the steak. This is achieved by the pools of moisture on the outside finding their way back into the meat.
Don’t add the pepper until just after you have finished cooking. If you add it too early it will burn on the pan and give you a horrid, acrid taste – ruining your expensive steak.
Although it may be difficult when you’re hungry, it is a good idea to let your steak rest for at least five minutes once it has finished cooking. It will allow the muscled fibres to stop contracting and give you a far juicier bit of meat.
Choose the right steak
The discussion on which cut of meat is best for whatever situation is a discussion for another day. You do need to look out for a moist surface and a fresh smell. That is, unless it is dry aged meat. Then the surface will be a little darker.
If there is anything untoward – such as the steak looking to wet or too dry – it is probably best to leave it.
License: Creative Commons
Guest post contributed by James Jones. A lover of gastronomy and finding the perfect steak. Loves home cooked food, again particularly steak done in wood burning range cookers that really create a perfectly cooked piece of meat.