How to cook the perfect steak

Beef fillet steak cooked perfectlyCooking a good beef steak is an art – and is often a great way to impress your friends, or entertain the man in your life! Better still, serve a medium rare steak with a glorious peppercorn sauce and boiled new potatoes, great ;for a classic steak dinner.

Five rules to pick the best steak

  1. When choosing a steak, take note of it's type. Sirloin is a good choice due to its tasty, melt-in-the-mouth succulence as it has a good amount of fat, and nice marbling. Rump steak is slightly cheaper than sirloin but it’s still a great steak for griddling or frying,and most people (Including myself) find it has more flavour than sirloin. Take note; rump steak can be slightly chewier, unless it has been hung and matured properly. Fillet steak is another popular, but more expensive choice, and it should ideally be cooked rare or medium rare as it has little fat to keep the meat tender if cooked for longer. I would not recommend fillet steak for a barbecue, its too delicate and lacks the fat it needs to stay tender!
  2. The age of the steak is important, as the hanging process develops the flavour and tenderises the meat. So ask your butcher how long the beef has been hung for. As a rule, 21 days as a minimum and 35 days as a maximum is a good range to go for.
  3. Good beef should be a cherry red colour, firm to the touch, and with a fine grain.
  4. Check the beef has good marbling – little streaks of fat running through the meat. This melts when heated, helping the steak to baste itself from within as it cooks. A fillet steak will have little/no marbling, so take care to not overcook it!
  5. A good layer of creamy-white fat around the top of sirloin steaks/rump steaks is essential - especially for the barbecue!

The perfect sirloin steak with marblingFive rules for cooking the perfect steak

  1. Heat your griddle or frying pan over a high heat, until smoking hot.
  2. Lightly brush the steak (not the pan) with a little olive oil, and season the meat with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Don’t griddle more than two steaks at a time, and keep them well spaced. If you add more steaks at the same time the temperature could drop, and the steak will stew, rather than fry.
  4. Don’t turn the steaks over until good seared markings are achieved, and in line with the timings in the table below.
  5. You must let the steak rest for a few minutes before serving, this allows the juices that have been drawn to the surface to relax back into the meat – it also stops the untidy impression that running juices can make on a clean white plate!

Steak cooking times

These times are based on a fairly typical steak about 2cm/1in thick being cooked in a very (oiled) hot pan.

Cooked Time
Blue 1 minute each side
Rare 1½ minutes each side
Medium rare 2 minutes each side
Medium 2¼ minutes each side
Medium-well 2½- 3minutes each side

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