Impress In The Kitchen With A Perfect Steak
Steak makes for classy dinner fare but you have to know how to cook it properly. Here’s a step-by step guide: get it right and make a great impression
11:36 14 May 2020
Throwing a dinner party to entertain friends, impress your boss or show a date a wonderful time? You can’t go wrong with steak; but make sure no one is vegan or vegetarian first. Cuts like fillet, rump, sirloin or rib can be somewhat expensive, which in itself signals to guests how much you value their company.
But it’s possible to cook a perfectly decent steak from cheaper cuts like flank skirt, thick or thin skirt, or a flatiron/feather steak. With the latter, get your butcher to remove the tough sinew down the middle.
You can cook steak on a barbeque, under the grill in the oven, or in a heavy-bottomed griddle pan. Whichever method you prefer, high temperature is the key to getting a caramelised crust on the outside of your steak.
Cook From Room Temperature
Don’t cook a steak fresh out the fridge; it won’t cook evenly. Instead, cook it from room temperature; and salt it two hours before cooking. This doesn’t dry out the meat, it just allows the salt to permeate the steak.
With the steak at room temperature, brush it with oil, press it onto a plate of cracked pepper to get a good coating on the outside, then begin grilling. Use tongs to handle it in the pan or on the grill; a fork really is a recipe for dried-up meat.
Check Your Timings
Make sure your pan is big enough not to crowd the steaks, or they will stew. If it isn’t, rather cook steaks in consecutive batches. Use a splash of vegetable oil for the basic cook, and add a knob of butter near the end for flavour.
The key is a hot pan or grill, even cooking, and timing. As a guideline, a 22mm steak, or just under an inch thick, should cook four minutes in total for rare, six to eight minutes for medium rare and eight to 12 minutes for medium. For well done, cook it on high for four to eight minutes, then reduce the heat and cook for a further four to six minutes, leaving you time for a hand or two of real money Blackjack.
Turning often is the key to cooking a steak evenly: every 15 to 20 seconds is best, which is why tongs keep your meat moister than forks. With practise, you can also tell the meat’s degree of doneness by prodding it with the tongs: rare will still be squishy, whereas medium and well done will be much springier. For absolute certainty, you can use a meat thermometer.
To add flavour, you can use simple tricks or recipes. You can rub steaks with a cut whole clove of garlic while cooking or make a basting and baste the meat using a rosemary or thyme branch as a brush. When the steak is done to the desired degree, cover it lightly with foil and rest it somewhere just above room temperature for 10 minutes, to allow the fibres to relax and reabsorb juices.
When entertaining, serve with a crisp green salad, string beans and buttery new potatoes; or crispy fries on less formal occasions. Drizzle the remaining pan juices over the sliced steak before serving, then add a sauce of your choice: mustard, mushroom or horseradish, perhaps.