Getting your steak right

Steak auf Grill

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I’ve cooked myself a couple of steaks for dinner in the last few days and both have been perfectly cooked. That’s pretty much the result of a lifetime of  practice. There’s plenty of ways to check where you’re steak is at, from the crude – slicing into it – to the subtle – simply feeling it. I use to to press the flesh to feel how tender, or done, it was, but I’ve now moved beyond that. I’ve cooked enough steaks in my life to’ just know’ now when it’s done without any tricks. Whether it’s on the barbie or the grill I reckon I cook a pretty mean steak.

Having said that, there’s a lot more to cooking a good steak than a keen judgement of cooking time. There are plenty of tips out there, and most of them are pretty good. In my judgement the following four elements are most important in ensuring good eating:

  1. Pick the right steak. ‘Right’ is pretty subjective, and I’m not about to tell anyone what they should be eating, except to note you generally get what you pay for. I don’t see much point in eating a mediocre cut of meat when for a few dollars more you might get something sublime. Then there are other considerations – whether it’s been grain or grass fed; aging: how, and for how long; and the cut. Everyone has their opinion on those. For me I generally prefer grass  over grain fed because it has better flavour (though less tender); dry aged, the longer the better; and my preferred cut is porterhouse, aka sirloin or New York cut. For me it’s the best compromise between the flavour of rump and the tenderness of eye fillet. Scotch fillet I’ll avoid unless it is a particularly good cut – it’s generally too fatty for me.
  2. Prepare it right. I’ve been watching Adrian Richardson on his program Secret Meat Business with a lot of vicarious pleasure. I think he’s a great TV chef and a man after my own heart. He’s forever reminding us that ‘meat loves salt’. Good tip. Oil your meat and salt it before you cook. Then there are marinades, which I love, which tenderise and add flavour at the same time.
  3. Cook it right. To start with make sure the grill is smoking hot.When I’m not barbecuing I use a ridged grill pan. I find it works really well. Make sure it’s bloody hot before you slap your steak on the grill. Then keep turning to a minimum. I turn four times all up (based on a steak about an inch and a half thick), basically going around the clock until the steak hits the plate cross-hatched from the char grill. I like mine cooked medium rare.
  4. Resting the meat. This is just about the most important. Once I learned this I was amazed at the difference it made. Resting allows for the meat to ‘relax’ after the heat of the grill, and for all the lovely juices to return to the centre of the meat. If you’ve cooked it right the meat will look evenly cooked through and pink in the middle, and will be much more tender.

That’s about it. Follow these tips and your steak should be beaut just about every time.

One response to “Getting your steak right

  1. Pingback: Finding a Good Steak « Cookaholics Anonymous

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