The latest from Atlas

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

How to cook the perfect steak. Part 2

Hello there...
In the last post we wrote about a few popular cuts, marbling and what aged steak is. Now it's time to get cooking so here are our steps to steak-cooking perfection.

Take your steak out of the fridge. Make sure you take your steak out of the fridge before cooking it. An hour is preferable but at least 20 mins if you are pressed for time. This is important as cooking a cold steak can result in a steak that's overcooked on the outside and cold on the inside; the muscle fibres in the meat will seize up and it'll be tough eating. Not good.

How thick is your steak? Most steaks from the supermarket are sliced on the thinner side so pan cooking will be fine. If you've got a nice thick chunk of steak from the butchers a little time in the oven will required to finish off cooking the steak. So get the oven on to a temperature of around 220c.

Choose your pan. A heavy based frying pan is ideal and also something that is flat bottomed as this will ensure even heat distribution. For thicker steaks a little time in the oven, once seared, is an approach so an oven proof pan is needed

Season it. You can rub some olive oil on the steak and season with salt and pepper on both sides, patting the seasoning into the meat. Avoid seasoning the steak in the pan as putting the seasoning directly into the hot pan can burn it.

Get the pan nice and hot. Use an oil with a high smoking point. The pan needs to be really hot so the outside of the steak is seared. You don't want to braise the steak. Searing will help to seal the juices inside the meat and will also encourage the natural sugars in the meat to caramelise. Some people like to flavour the pan with a little butter, you can do that but don't use butter as the primary cooking fat as it'll burn - it doesn't smoke high enough.

Whack it in the pan and turn it. Let the steak sear on one side for a minute and then sear on the other side for a minute and continue to turn the steak every minute. This ensures an even cooking and keeps all the moisture in the middle of the steak. Whilst you are turning the steak you can baste the top with a little butter or some chefs rub a garlic clove on the meat. Avoid putting crushed garlic straight into the pan as the garlic will burn and it tastes a bit bitter then. 

The fingertip test. Most people have heard of the method of testing a steak's temperature. With one hand (keeping it relaxed) touch the tip of your thumb to your index finger. The palm area at the base of your thumb is how a steak should feel to touch.

Index to thumb: rare
Middle to thumb: medium rare
Ring finger to thumb: medium
Pinkie to thumb: well done

Rest the meat. Once the steak is cooked to your desired temperature don't plate it up straight away. Put it on a warm plate in a warm place and let it rest. You can cover it with tin foil too. Don't whack it onto a cold plate as you want it to retain heat for when you serve it. Rest it for about 2 mins. 

Resting is important as when the steak was placed in the hot pan all the juices were forced into the middle of the steak by the heat. If you were to slice the steak straight from the pan all those juices would just flow out onto the plate. Resting allows the juices to slowly migrate back through the meat to the outer parts of the steak again meaning the steak will be beautifully juicy. Some juice will flow onto the plate, that's all right. You are still keeping more juice in the steak itself by resting and you can tip the resting juices back into the pan, de-glaze the brown tasty bits with some wine and you a have jus to serve with your steak.

Our approach at Atlas is to sear the steak in a super hot pan and turn the steak a few times to really sear the outside of the steak and get that tasty caramelisation going. Then, as our steak are very thick, we transfer them to the oven to continue cooking. The advantage of thicker steaks is that you can really cook the outside thoroughly resulting in great flavour and still have the steak medium rare on the inside. That's trickier to do with portions that have been cut a little thinner. The steaks are then rested in a warm place for a few minutes before being served up with fries, salad and our delicious demi-glace and Cafe de Paris butter.