6 STEPS TO THE PERFECT STEAK
Great steak, every time, guaranteed
1. It's all about the meat - buy the best you can
My favourite cut is rib-eye. This one is about an inch thick and 400g (14oz). It cost £10 ($12) which is, admittedly, a lot for raw meat for one person. Consider though, that it might be at least 5 times the price in a restaurant by the time they served it to you. I think it's worth it every time.
2. Salt your steak for at least 30 mins
Should look like "a light dusting of snow"
This steps helps give a great crust to your steak on grilling. I usually do it for an hour or so but it's really important that you have at least 30 minutes for this stage, otherwise it makes the steak worse. Essentially the salt first pulls moisture out of the steak (in the first 10 minutes or so) and then it starts to be reabsorbed back into the meat, leaving a briny film that helps the steak crust up nicely. Skip this step if you don't have enough time.
3. Get your grill (or pan) smoking hot
BBQ getting nice and hot
Since getting a gas barbecue a couple of years ago, I now always cook my steak outside on that. Before that I used to a cast iron griddle pan on our gas hob in the kitchen. This was great for colouring and crusting a steak, but the fire alarm was a constant risk and my house would smell of beef fat for a day or two after.
I crank the bbq grill up on full for 5-10 minutes. Today it was at 300°C (600°F) by that time.
4. Cook hot and quick, turning regularly
If you like steak medium or (gasp) well-done, then we can't be friends. For beef generally, my preference is rare, however a rib-eye I tend do closer to medium-rare. This is because of the high fat content of the rib-eye, it means the steak can take a bit more cooking as all the fat keeps it moist and juicy. Indeed if you leave a rib-eye too rare then the fat in the middle may not get hot enough to melt. If I'm cooking a leaner, less marbled steak, like a sirloin or a fillet I aim for rare.
There's no simple formula for how long you should cook a steak for a given doneness because it the variables of thickness and grill temperature make such a huge difference to the required cooking time. Some people suggest pressing the steak and feeling for springiness, I think this is too subjective. If you're unsure, I would suggest a meat thermometer.
I've got the knack over the years for knowing the rough to timing to get my preferred "approaching medium-rare" doneness - for this steak I grilled it for 5 minutes, turning every 45 seconds (yes, I use a stop watch).
I'm not sure why exactly it is a good idea to turn regularly but a lot of good chefs and kitchens do it, I think it's to do with consistency. I guess if you just simply do half of the total time on one side, and turn once then the second side to go down would end up being more cooked, something like that.
5. Rest the meat, rest it again and then rest it some more
My delicious steak, just sitting there resting in foil
You've heard this before I'm sure, but do you really believe it? I used to be so impatient to eat my steak hot off the grill that I always ignored this. Then a few months ago I went on a course where the instructor said you must rest steak for at least as long you grilled it. Something about allowing muscle fibres to relax and reabsorb juices after stress of intense heat, I think, I'm not 100% sure, the course also included unlimited red wine.
Anyway, if you're sceptical about this here's a simple test - grill two steaks for the same amount of time. Cut one up immediately off the grill. Leave the other to rest for at least 5 minutes, cut it up. The plate the first one is on will have a pool of juice, the second won't. The resting makes the meat way juicier. It's really true. Believe the hype.
6. Add sides and condiments
All I really want with my steak is salt, sautéed onions and french mustard. This evening, I also had some token greenery: rocket and parmesan salad.
If I was eating out I would probably have fries too. But I can't make decent fries at home - oven chips don't cut it.
This brings me to the great thing about steak - anyone can easily have restaurant quality steak at home, that's why I love it so much.
Few things are so delicious, yet so simple to cook.