The latest from Atlas

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Atlas Beer Cafe: How to Cook the Perfect Steak - Part 1

Ready for the pan
Apparently, if there's one question a chef gets asked the most it's how to cook a steak properly.

Many dishes on the Atlas menu are very popular. But, if there's one meal that's made us famous around town and become an Atlas (if not Queenstown) institution... it's our steak and fries meal. So we've decided to write a couple of posts with some helpful hints on how to cook the perfect steak - Atlas style!

To begin:

Just explaining what temperature a steak should be cooked and for how long is tricky. 

There are many variables to consider like the cut of meat, thickness of the cuts plus different cuts have different structure.  So it helps, from the offset, to have a little info on some of the different cuts available to you.

A few suggested cuts:


This is the most expensive cut. It doesn't have much fat and and a result is really meaty. The downside can be that the lack of fat means it doesn't have so much flavour but as long as it has good marbling (more on marbling in a minute) it can be really delicious. Eye-fillet is from the loin area of the beef.

Rib Eye or Scotch Fillet: 

This cut is regarded by some people as having the best flavour. It's from the upper rib area of the animal and has an eye-sized piece of fat in it which also adds flavour to the cut. As these muscles don't really support the cow's weight or work as hard as other muscles the result is a cut with a softer texture. Often called Rib if on the bone and Scotch if the bone is removed. 


The sirloin is a multi-muscled area and it can have a few different cuts, which all get called Sirloin, which is confusing! Whilst not as tender as the steaks from the loin or the rib area the sirloin steaks are still very flavourful. The Sirloin section is next behind the rib section. The term comes from Old French - surlonge meaning sur la longe or 'above the loin'. There are stories of an English King knighting a steak and calling it Sir Loin, hence the name, sirloin. It's not true!


Moving along the beast we come next to the rump section. Like the sirloin this is a multi-muscled cut with grains running in different directions. Rump is what we serve at Atlas as it's delicious and provides us with nice, big, juicy steaks! 

The Atlas chefs carefully prepare the rump cutting it down into the different muscle sections so that the grain is consistent and the steaks are more uniform ensuring they will cook with an even tenderness. Rump is best when it's aged and our rumps are aged around 21 days.

And what does 'aged steak' mean?

This refers to how long the meat is hung for by the butcher. As the meat hangs the flavours start to saturate and the meat becomes more tender. 


This refers to the little streams of white fat that run through a cut of meat. As the meat cooks this streaks of fat melt into the meat and almost baste it from within. This makes the steak nice and succulent. Things like the breed of the animal and what it's been fed on can affect the marbling.

So that's a bit of background on a few cuts and some info and on ageing and marbling. In our next post - we get cooking!