How to cook the perfect steak
How to cook the perfect steak
We often get asked how we cook our Dorset reared, grass fed steaks. It’s a big question and in many ways we are flattered to be asked as there is a lot of authoritative writing out there on the subject.
So, how do you cook the perfect grass-fed steak? We’ve had a look at how some of the most accomplished chefs recommend how to do it.
What cut should I go for?
It’s often a question of budget and whilst the obvious names are right up there – sirloin, fillet, rib-eye, T-bone and rump all renowned for their tenderness- it’s worth looking at some of the cheaper cuts like minute and skirt. These cuts are all available from the Dorset Meat Company in our grass fed, free range meat boxes.
Fernando Larroude, the master steaksman Gaucho, recommends flank and skirt as two great cuts. ‘The marbling on these cuts means they’ll be succulent and juicy, perfect for a summer barbecue.’ he says. A lot of chefs opt for rib-eye. The cut has excellent fat marbling and holds together well.
How do I prepare my steak?
Harold McGee, the American food scientist, believes that the secret to a good steak is twofold: ‘warm meat and frequent flips.’ To achieve the former, McGee recommends mummifying the steak in cling film and then submerging it in a bath of warm water for about an hour before cooking. Elias Iglesias, veteran chef at the legendary Morton’s steakhouse in New York City, used to shock diners by leaving his steaks out by the open kitchen grill for about an hour before cooking, or as long as the food standards agencies would allow (‘at home I let them sit for two hours’, he admits). But now letting your meat breath is the norm. The Master Alain Ducasse, one of the world’s most decorated chefs, says that this stage is the most important in cooking a good steak. The thinking is that this processes relaxes the fibres in the meat slightly, making the end product more tender. But it’s also designed to raise the internal temperature a little, so that the centre of the steak doesn’t stay cold while the exterior burns.
Should I dry my steak before cooking?
Iglesis and Ducasse both recommend patting the meat dry before cooking. Ducasse says that too damp a steak will ‘struggle to form a decent crust and pick up some unpleasant boiled meat flavour’. A certain dryness also encourages the Maillard reaction, that heaven-sent piece of chemistry that occurs when meat protein browns.
How do I season my steak?
Some caution against seasoning with salt. However, Ducasse, and Iglesias, are both strong advocates of salting, in the belief that a generous salting helps the steaks cook evenly. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, however, advocates salting about halfway through the cooking process. We prefer salting at the outset and quite generously as it helps build up a delicious salty crust.
What should I cook my steak in?
Fat is an essential element of the whole process, whether in the meat itself or in the cooking. Nigel Slater suggests brushing the meat with clarified butter just before it hits the pan (‘not too much, just enough to give it a good gloss.’) Fearnley-Whittingstall would rather that you greased the pan beforehand. Ducasse uses butter, lots of it, but adds it to the pan once the meat is browned instead of slipping it in at the start. He then uses the melted butter, flavoured with crushed garlic, to baste the steak as the cooking comes to an end. This basting, Ducasse believes, adds a savoury punch to the crust.
What temperature should I cook my steak at?
Here, it can quite tricky. Slater and Ducasse like a very high heat, while Iglesias and Fearnley-Whittingstall prefer something more moderate. The debate is between those who like it more on the charred side and those who believe over browning is simply a distraction from the wonderful natural flavours of the beef. The higher heat brigade accept that this works a lot better for thick cut pieces of meat ( about 4cm) than thinner ones. Ducasse says that too thin a cut, and you’ll cook it through before you’ve had a chance to enact any of the crucial caramelisation.
Should I flip my steak? And, if so, how?
Again, this is a real area of contention. McGee is convinced that frequent flipping is what keeps the best steaks moist: ‘frequent turns mean that neither side has the time either to absorb or to release large amounts of heat. The meat cooks faster, and its outer layers end up less overdone.’
For Ducasse, there is another advantage to flipping: it allows you to keep a track on the progress of charring. Just to confuse matters, Slater suggests pressing down on the steak with a spatula to ‘improve thermal contact’. This, he believes, gives a superior caramelised crust.
We would advocate letting the steak rest for a short while before serving (up to 10 agonising minutes, depending on the thickness of the steak)
Our grass fed, free range meat boxes are delivered to your door and are available across the UK as part of our meat delivery service.
If you live locally (in Poole or Bournemouth, or within 30 miles of our offices in Child Okeford) and would rather pick up your order from us yourself, you can select the “Click and Collect” option at checkout. You will then be able to select the time at which you want to make your collection.
The service is free so you will save on the cost of delivery.