Saturday, 7 July 2012

Trying to cook the perfect steak [volume 5]

I've finally cracked it. I don't think I can improve my indoor steak cooking method any further. Last time round it was almost perfect, but I just overcooked it very slightly despite using a meat thermometer to keep an eye on things.

This time I corrected that by removing it from the pan a bit sooner, aiming for an internal temperature of between 120 and 125 degrees fahrenheit rather than 130. The thermometer was reading 123 when I took it off the heat.

The meat on this occasion came from Holmfirth by way of the Schoolrooms at Low Bradfield. It wasn't cheap but it was good stuff, well hung with a good thick layer of creamy fat. The butcher is helpful and was more than happy to fetch out a whole rib and cut to order.

Apart from the minor alterations to the temperature I did everything the same. Dry age in the fridge for two days, remove from the fridge as early as possible and salt early too. Here it is after the salt has soaked back in, just before going in the pan.

After just a few minutes turning in the pan the crust is starting to develop nicely.

Nearly done and looking good.

After resting here it is ready to slice. Glossy butter sheen shown up a treat by the flash.

Ooh yes, this is the business. The dark, caramelised surface of the steak forms a crust just a couple of millimetres thick before it gives way to the blush, juicy flesh inside. Deeply savoury, marmitey tastes combining with the iron-y rich meat and creamy, buttery fat. Lovely. We ate it simply with some garlicky sauteed potatoes and a salad.

This time there was enough for leftovers.

So I sliced up the rest for a monster sandwich the day after.

To finish this little series of posts here are my top twelve tips for cooking a perfect steak.

1. Buy the best quality meat you can afford, from a good butcher or farm shop. Don't bother with the supermarket 'best of' varieties, they're still not very good.

2. Buy a thick steak, on the bone, with plenty of fat. Fat and bone equals depth of flavour, and the bone is good for gnawing afterwards, or contributing towards a stock. A two inch thick one rib piece cut from the whole joint is ideal. This will weigh between 0.9kgs and 1.4kgs depending on which end of the rib it's cut from. Don't bother with a T-bone, the fillet section will only end up overcooked.

3. Invest in a meat thermometer, they don't cost much and it's well worth it for the extra accuracy you'll get.

4. Dry age the steak for an extra couple of days by leaving it uncovered on a plate in the fridge, or better still on a wire rack with a plate underneath to catch any juices. This, in theory (I'm convinced it works) helps to tenderise the meat and concentrate the flavour.

5. Remove the steak from the fridge at least four hours before you want to cook it, as it will take this long to come properly up to room temperature.

6. Salt the steak generously and early, ideally about 90 minutes before you start cooking it. Use sea salt from a grinder rather than cheap cooking salt. It does taste better. Salting this early allows time for the salt to really penetrate the meat, enhancing the flavour and tenderising. No pepper until it's on your plate.

7. Cook it in a flat bottomed frying pan, not a ridged griddle. The ridge marks might look pretty but all you're doing is keeping some of the surface of your steak further from the heat source, which means less delicious dark crust.

8. Use a neutral oil with little to no flavour (sunflower, rapeseed etc) and a high burn temperature for most of the cooking time. Olive oil or butter will burn and make your crust taste bitter.

9. Keep the hob on a high heat throughout the cooking time, and keep turning the steak at least every 30 seconds. This helps to build up the crust.

10. Throw in a knob of butter for the last minute or so of cooking time (30 seconds on each side), it adds to the flavour and finishes browning the steak nicely.

11. A steak this thick will probably take the best part of twenty minutes to cook, but there are plenty of variables here so using your meat thermometer is key. Keep a very close eye on the internal temperature of your steak, it will rise very rapidly towards the end of the cooking time, so if you want medium rare take it out of the pan when the temperature says rare (120-125 degrees fahrenheit).

12. Rest for a long time. If it took 15 minutes to cook, then let it rest for another 15, on a warm (not hot, you don't want to keep cooking it) plate loosely covered with tin foil. No matter how delicious it smells do not cut back on the resting time.

Enjoy the beefy goodness!


Gary said...

outstanding work

Dave said...

Cheers Gary!

Anonymous said...

hi dave

i've been meaning to ask exactly where in Holmfirth you got this beauty. I am local(ish) and am on never ending quest to find the best beef.


Dave said...

Hi Simon,

I actually bought it from the Schoolrooms farm shop at Low Bradfield just outside Sheffield ( It was advertised as being from Holmfirth, not sure exactly where in Holmfirth they source it.

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