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Today, I’m happy to share a guest post from Joshua South. Joshua has experience in both the fitness and culinary arts fields, and you can find him at his website: elementwellbeing.com. Joshua is talking to us today about a technique that is probably pretty intimidating to most of us (myself included!): how to cook a perfect steak.
Cooking the perfect steak is a skill that eludes not only most home cooks, but multiple chefs in the industry. There’s a plethora of tips and tricks out there that hint at the perfect way to cook the ultimate steak, but none of them ever seem to work. That’s why I’m here. I’m here to help you bust through the myth’s, and get down to the facts of cooking steak. My name is Joshua South, I’m a personal training and owner of Element Wellbeing with previous training in the culinary arts in many fine dining restaurants throughout Australia.
Selecting a Cut of Meat
When selecting a cut of meat it’s important to take two main factors into consideration. 1. Do I want flavour? 2. Do I want it to be healthy?
Both of these options will lead to two different selections. If you want a cut that’s packed full of flavour you will want to be looking for a tender cut from the center of the cow with lots of marbling (the small bits of white fat through the meat) such as the eye fillet.This first step is the most important factor to cooking the perfect steak – Steaks with high marbling tend to be juicer and more tender due to the higher fat content whilst on the other end, steaks with low marbling tend to a little tougher and are better used in dishes such as stir-fry’s. This isn’t to say that you can’t cook a tender piece of rump, it just means that you are going to have to use some more care during the cooking process.
Preparing the Steak for Cooking
Before we start to cook your selected cut please ensure that it is brought up to room temperature gently. One of the worst things you can do whilst cooking a steak is to take it straight from your fridge or freezer and place it straight into your skillet. Whilst most amateurs will suggest this is the easiest way to get a medium-rare steak it will leave the center of your steak being luke-warm, or worse, stone cold. We’re not amateurs here, are we? No? Good. Let’s act like the professionals we are and after removing the steak from storage allowing it to sit on the bench until it reaches room temperature.
Once the steak has been raised to room temperature it is time to start the seasoning and marinating process. What flavours, herbs, and oils, you use is personal preference but the following process is considered quite standard in most professional kitchens:
1. Rub the steak all over with high quality olive oil
2. Rub crushed garlic over both sides of the steak
3. Rub salt and pepper over both sides of the steak
At this point you can include any other herbs or spices you desire; thyme, rosemary, chilli, cayenne pepper, etc…
The Cooking Process
This is where it starts to get tricky, there are a plethora of different cooking options available which will result in different flavour and mouth feel for you steak. I’m going to teach you the standard seal-and-finish method used in most restaurants.
Pre-heat your oven to 230°C (Or 450°F if you’re not from down under). Place your skillet on your stove over med-high heat, apply a small amount of macadamia oil and spread around the skillet. Be careful with how much oil you add as oil expands when it is exposed to heat. It is important not to use olive oil due it’s low smoking point, if you burn your oil you are left with a bitter taste that will transfer into your meat. Using an oil such as macadmia oil ensures that the oil will have a high smoking point which will also mean that the burning point will also be much higher.
PROTIP: Butter has a low smoking (or burning) point. To counteract this, if you add your macadmia oil (or other oil with a high smoke point) and then add your butter you’ll be able to apply more heat to your skillet / pot / pan before your butter burns.
Once the oil starts to smoke lightly, place your steak into the pan. It should sizzle instantly. Wait 30-45 seconds and then flip your steak. The side that was previously sizzling should have a nice brown crust forming, wait another 30-45 seconds before transferring your entire skillet into the oven.
This is where it gets tricky. The thickness of your steak, and the degree that you like it cooked, will determine how long you leave it in the oven for. A good rule of thumb for a thick cut is to leave it in the oven for 2 minutes on either side. This will require a lot of trial and error as each cut of steak will different in width, thickness, and have varying degrees of marbling – but the 2 minutes each side is a good starting point.
To make things easier for you, below is a small guide to the internal temperature of the steak for each finish:
– 35°C (95°F) = Rare
– 45°C (113°F) = Medium-rare
– 55°C (131°F) = Medium
– 65°C (149°F) = Medium-well
– 75°C (167°F) = Well-done
The final step in cooking the perfect steak is allowing the meat to rest! Once you remove a steak from the oven there is still heat within the item causing it to cook for brief period after it’s been removed from the heat source. Giving it time to finish cooking will also allow time for the juices within the steak to even themselves out over the cut for the perfect, juicy, tender, mouth-watering, steak that we all love.
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The information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.