Perfect Steak Just the Way I Like It:
Much has been written about how to cook the perfect steak. And, as with all cookery, much is about personal taste. Anyone who has been to an Argentinian Steakhouse like Gaucho Piccadilly or one of London’s new breed of steak houses (Goodman, Hawksmoor and the like) will know that there’s a seemingly infinite list of variables which can affect what ends up on your plate even before it hits the grill or pan.
Firstly – The breed of cattle used for the steak in the first place. In my case this time, the steaks were from Heggies of Hereford and were Hereford Cattle, a traditional British breed, now used for cross breeding across the world because of the quality of meat they produce. The Hereford is a native breed dating back to the 1700s, and Hereford beef is produced in this country by a small group of specialist farmers. The meat they produce is beautifully marbled and well flavoured.
Secondly – Grass fed versus corn fed beef. The practice of rearing cattle on a diet of grass when they are young and then fattening them up with grain in the months just before slaughter produces meat with a higher fat content. Arguably meat from grain fed cattle lacks the sweetness of meat from cattle reared entirely outdoors. There has been some research that shows the fat from grass fed beef is better for you that the fat from corn fed beef. And it has higher levels of Omega 3 and vitamin E.
Thirdly – The cut of beef you use. While everyone has their favourite cut, it’s not always true that ‘more expensive is better for you’. And nor is it always apparent from a quick glance. The cut with the highest fat content is Ribeye – and even if your personal preference is for rare steak, you’ll probably find this needs to be cooked just a little longer. It can have up to 15% fat! Next up, Fillet with around 7% fat, followed by Sirloin at 4.5-5% fat, followed by Rump Steak – which is the lowest in fat at around 4% and rather denser in texture too.
Finally – How well aged the meat is. You should look for meat that is at least 21 days aged, to help ensure good texture and full flavour. After that, it’s a little down to personal preference. In generally the longer meat is aged, the stronger the flavour and the tenderer the meat becomes.
On this occasion I was sent some some fillet medallions to review, nice thick cut pieces of meat that just asked to be cooked simply. So that’s exactly what I did. And the result was quite spectacular, probably more down to the quality of the meat from Heggies than from anything clever I’d done.
- 1 Steak (weight depending on appetite. 150g is a small steak. Ideally at least 2cm thick.)
- 1 teaspoon oil or melted butter (I use olive oil.)
- Salt and pepper
- Take the steak out of the fridge at least an hour before you plan on eating, season well with salt and pepper and cover with a cloth or upturned bowl
- Heat a heavy griddle, or if you don't have one, a heavy based pan until very hot and smoking, then, turn the heat down just a bit
- Brush both sides of the steak with oil or melted butter and, for a 2cm steak, place on the griddle for 1-2 minutes. Please note you grease the STEAK, not the pan if you are using a griddle. Turn it over and griddle the second side for a further 1-2 minutes.
- Turn the steak back over and rotate 90 degrees to get criss-cross griddle marks. Continue to cook for roughly a further minute (rare) or two minutes (medium) before flipping and finishing the steak off for as long as you need to get the steak cooked as you like it.
- You can check the 'doneness' of your steak using the thumb test. If you've never come across this method before, it's worth checking out - I've put a link in the main post.
- Allow your steak to sit in a warm place for a couple of minutes before you serve it. This is called 'resting' the meat and will allow the blood to be pulled back into the meat so that you have a beautifully moist steak.
This kind of very simple cooking produces the most spectacular results if you use excellent quality ingredients in the first place. And, I’d recommend ensuring that you buy your beef from a good local butcher or from a direct supplier of quality meats like Heggies of Hereford where you know the provenance of the meat you are cooking and eating. I really enjoyed this simple but luxurious supper
Heggies Butchers deliver their meat throughout the UK – if you’d like to find out more, check the website.
And for that thumb test, there are quite a few good posts like this one on the internet that explain how to check.