Let’s break it down. To make a good steak you need three key things:
1) Good material – meat from grass fed cows not only tastes better than that from grain fed animals but is also much better for your health. Grass fed cows get to roam around freely, eat what they’re designed to eat, grow at a normal rate, and as a result stay healthy with no need for antibiotics or hormones. The meat contains a healthy ratio of Omega-3/Omega-6 fatty acids and more nutrition in general.
2) Good method – everyone has an opinion on how to make the best steak, I mean there are restaurants, books and websites dedicated to steaks. I’ve always been exposed to the most common method: temper the meat, grill for 4-5 minutes on one side, turn over and cook for a few minutes on the other, rest for half cooking time, eat. But then came Heston, a self-taught cooking genius, and changed everything! His method involves turning the steak every 15-30 seconds instead of letting it do its own thing.
3) Practice – and finally, to make a really good steak, every time, you need to practice and tinker with your stove, BBQ, grill and frying pans until you find the perfect temperature and cooking times for your environment. There is something nerdy about it and I like nerdy.
Equipped with this knowledge and lots of practice, I finally decided to publish a post on cooking a perfect steak. I’ve acquired some excellent quality grass fed beef from Cape Grim Beef in Tasmania (Neil Perry is a fan + the air at the Cape is purest in the world), good olive oil, sea salt, and a good cast iron grill pan. I wanted to test the standard method of cooking a steak versus Heston’s crazy frequent turn technique. All variables combined I knew I would end up with pretty damn good steaks. So, here we go:
Step 1. Pick your cut – I used two Scotch fillets (also known as rib eye or rib fillets), about 300gm each. Rib eye fillet comes from the rib section of the cow. Other cuts you can use are T-bone, Porterhouse, Sirloin or Filet Mignon (the most tender and usually the most expensive cut by weight).
Step 2. Tempering the steak – this step is the same for both methods. Tempering means bringing the steak to room temperature. If you cook the steaks straight out of the fridge, you will end up with overcooked, even burnt, outer edges and raw middle or you’ll end up overcooking the whole steak. Rub the steaks with olive oil, pepper and salt. Set aside on a plate for at least 20 minutes if it’s right out of the fridge. The salt will penetrate the outside of the beef and as you start cooking the meat, the juices will flow to the middle flavouring the meat inside. When you rest the meat, the juices flow back further developing the flavour of the beef.
Step 3. Heat a grill plate, a frying pan or a BBQ to high. Spray or brush with oil or ghee, make sure it’s sizzling hot. This part is still the same for both methods. I like my steak medium rare so the below cooking times will need to be adjusted if you want yours rare or medium. ‘Well done’ is not an option in my kitchen! See suggested cooking times at the bottomg of the post.
Step 4A. Standard method – I fried the steak for 4 1/2 minutes on one side, only rotating it on a pan once to get criss-cross grill marks, and then 2 1/2 minutes on the other side. I rested the steak for 5 minutes before cutting (ok, maybe a little longer while I was taking a few pics). Resting allows the meat to relax and the juices to spread out evenly through the meat.
Step 4B. Heston’s method – I cooked the steak for 6 minutes in total except that I turned it over every 30 seconds, so 11 times. Rest time of 5 minutes as well. In both methods the temperature remained at the same level.
Steak cooked following a standard method – total cooking time of 7 minutes.
Steak cooked following Heston Blumenthal’s method – total cooking time of 6 minutes.
My verdict: both steaks tasted really good and to be honest the difference was very minimal but I have to pick Heston’s method just because the meat seemed a little bit juicier, it took quicker to cook and maybe because I have a little foodie crush on him.
So to make a good steak: use good quality, grass fed meat (Cape Grim Beef stock in pretty much every state if you’re interested in trying their meat, see where to buy here), pick a cut, pick your method, make sure to temper your meat, use a good frying pan like cast iron or a BBQ grill, and don’t forget to rest the meat before cutting into it. Below are recommended cooking times for a rib eye steat, 1″ thick.
Very Rare4-5 minutesRare5-6 minutesMedium Rare6-8 minutesMedium7-10 minutesWell doneNot RecommendedHave you got your own tips and tricks when cooking a steak? What is your favourite cut?
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