Become a master of meat in a matter of minutes…
1.Not All Steaks Are Equal
Cheaper cuts of beef like skirt and chuck are tougher and better suited to slow cooking. You want a cut that’s tender. For maximum flavour, opt for Wagyu (below), which is bred to be marbled with fat, guaranteeing tenderness and taste. Other beautiful beef options include eye fillet, porterhouse and T-bone.
2. Season For Reason
Take your steak out of the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking. Removing the chill from the meat makes for a better sear in a hot pan or griddle and will help cook the meat inside faster and more evenly. Brush both sides of the steak with good quality olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. The seasoning enhances the flavour and helps create that sweet, slightly charred crust we associate with top steakhouses. A small amount of salt also helps the cells retain water, making for a juicier steak. If you like a bit of spicy kick, you can also add chilli flakes to the seasoning mix.
3. Timing Is Everything
Heat a pan or griddle on the cooktop to very hot. (A drop of water will sizzle, dance and evaporate in seconds upon contact with the surface). But don’t add steak until the pan’s at the right temperature or the meat won’t brown nicely. How do you like your steak? Blue, rare, medium-rare, medium or well done? A 3.5cm-thick fillet steak will be blue (meaning only seared on outside and merely warm inside) if cooked for about 90 seconds a side. Rare (seared, dark red and bloody on the inside) takes two minutes and 15 seconds per side. For medium-rare (seared, pink, some juices flowing) add another minute per side and for medium (seared, pink inside, no juices flowing) cook for about four and a half minutes per side. If you like well-done steaks (seared, brown with a trace of pink inside), cook for up to six minutes per side.
4. Don’t Crowd The Pan (But Turn If You Wanna)
Too many steaks in the pan reduces the surface temperature, “traps” the steaks and boils moisture that the meat is releasing. This lower temperature and the steam created can result in meat that’s under-seared on the outside and stewed, chewy and grey-looking on the inside. Despite the advice you should only turn steaks once, there’s been a movement away from this in recent years, with no lesser authority than Heston Blumenthal suggesting you use tongs to flip your steaks every 15 to 20 seconds. While that might be a big excessive, turning frequently shortens cooking time and promotes a nice crust and even cooking, provide that your pan or griddle is smoking hot. If you plan to turn frequently, keep track of how much time each side is getting.
5. Test & Rest
Do not slice into the steak to see whether it’s cooked the way you like it — you’ll just let all the delicious juices spill out. Instead, press a finger against the steak’s surface: rare will feel soft; medium-rare has slight springiness and well-done is firm to the touch. When done to your liking, remove steak from heat and rest for five minutes. This allows the meat to reabsorb its juices, making for a moister and more tender steak.
6. Finish & Match With A Robust Red
Give your steak a creamy finish by serving with a knob of butter. While steak goes wonderfully with beer and white wine, it’s best accompanied with a bold red, such as a Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon, whose high levels of tannins help dissolve the fat in the meat and release the flavour.