Most of us are impressed when we receive a steak that has been cooked to perfection. It’s one of the foods that is often scrutinised upon receiving it on our plate. What is considered to be the perfect steak? The crust, the tender, pink centre and the smooth, buttery finish… is your mouth watering?
Steak has a bit of a reputation for being a bit tricky to cook, but it’s really not, with some basic knowhow. Read on to learn how you can cook the perfect steak at home.
Cuts of Steak
There are so many cuts of steak - what is your preference? It may come down to taste or budget. Different cuts deliver different flavour and tenderness so experiment with what you choose. Here are some of the most common cuts.
Sirloin / Porterhouse
A prime steak with lots of flavour. It’s lean and juicy. Don’t over-cook this cut, its best served medium-rare.
You get a tender fillet on the smaller side of the bone and on the other side a juicy sirloin - you can’t go wrong. A cut of steak with a bone will need slightly longer to cook than a thin fillet.
Scotch Fillet / Rib Eye
Tender and juicy, this cut has a delicious meaty flavour.
This is a popular cut as it has the best beef flavour. It is lean and firm in texture.
Extremely lean and tender, this cut has a mild flavour and is highly desired as a good quality cut.
Some other things to consider are how the steak was grown. Grass-fed beef cattle graze on pasture, resulting in leaner meat, with a rich flavour. Wagyu is a generic name for four breeds of Japanese cattle which are fed grass and rice straw and supplemented with other feed such as wheat bran, corn and barley. Wagyu steaks have a lot of marbling, and it is quite expensive. Beef can be aged to improve the flavour and tenderness.
What to Cook your Steak On
Now, consider what to use to cook your steak. A heavy based stainless steel frying pan is great for indoors as they are an even heat conductor and are good for searing meat. They are safe to cook at the high temperatures required for cooking steak and wash easily.
A cast iron pan or skillet is also good for cooking indoors as they get really hot and retain heat well. The seasoning process required for maintaining cast iron results in great flavours and aromas over time.
A gas or electric BBQ for outdoor cooking works really well. The grill works well as it ensures the meat doesn’t stew, but choose a cut with some fat marbling through it so it doesn’t dry out. Gasmate offers a brilliant range of BBQs, including a basic gas BBQ grill perfect for steaks!
Before Cooking your Steak
You have your steak and you’re looking forward to a delicious meal. There are a couple of things to know before you start cooking.
Take the steak out of the fridge about an hour prior to cooking, allowing it to come up to room temperature. Cooking a steak from room temperature will help the heat penetrate to the middle more efficiently and assist with building a crust as the surface of the meat will have dried out slightly.
Ensure your pan or BBQ is not too crowded, to keep the heat up to a high temperature throughout cooking.
Aim to cook your steak medium-rare to medium, which takes about 6-8 minutes. Any more and the meat will become tough.
Steps for Cooking Steak
Preheat your pan or BBQ, and make sure it is super-hot and smoking before you begin. This helps caramelise the meat and give a delicious crust. Having the heat low will stew the meat.
Rub the steak with a decent amount of oil and season with salt and pepper. Flavourless oils like vegetable or sunflower work best, and extra virgin olive oil is also fine.
Add the steak to the pan and turn it every minute or so which will ensure it cooks evenly. Don’t touch it any more than this. For a medium-rare steak, cook for about 5-6 minutes. It will be soft and springy to touch. If you want to add a twist, each time you turn the steak, rub it with garlic or a knob of butter or throw some woody herbs such as rosemary or thyme into the pan.
After cooking, leave the steak to rest on a plate for a few minutes - about half the cooking time. This is essential, to collect the juices and allow the fibres to relax. Rub it with a little olive oil or butter to make it super juicy and cover with foil.
Serve your steak with a fresh salad and chips or a selection of veggies. Once you have the cooking process down, experiment with marinades and rubs, to take your steak dinners to an even higher level.