The Perfect Steak

I have recently spent some time refining my steak cooking technique, and am now documenting it here for future generations and myself if I happen to forget. Please note that this is a way of cooking my perfect steak — your perfect steak will undoubtedly be completely different (and, obviously, completely wrong).

We start by picking our steak. I usually go for a rump steak or a sirloin steak — the quality of the meat is important, so try and get one that’s organic and locally-produced if possible. Don’t be put off if the meat is not that nice, safe, supermarket-pink colour – a brown steak will be older but it will taste even better. Also try and avoid Tesco, because their meat is generally rubbish no matter what they claim.

Take the meat from your fridge at least half an hour before you plan to cook it. You’ll start cooking the steak about 15 minutes before the rest of your food is ready.

First of all, heat a dribble of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, the sort of pan that you could conceivably kill someone with if you hit them with it upside the head — a serious, grown-up pan. Get this pan hot — as hot as you dare, and then a bit hotter. What we’re going to aim for is to quickly carbonise the outside of the steak, but not so slowly that it allows the inside to cook.

While the pan is heating, dribble some olive oil on both sides of your steak and rub it in — this will help the outside to cook quickly (I guess). Then, liberally season your steak on both sides. My seasoning of choice is Schwartz Steakhouse Pepper, which is a mixture of pepper, salt, onion, garlic, paprika and chillies, but it’s up to you — just make sure you don’t wimp out, you want to be showering your meat with this crap. Rub it into both sides.

When your pan is scarily hot, take the steak with a pair of tongs and hold it in the pan vertically, with its fatty edge the only part making contact. The idea here is to render the fat down to cook the steak partially in its own juices, and it will also give you a nice crispy edge which you will enjoy eating, even at the expense of your arteries.

After a couple of minutes of this — you’ll probably be generating a fair bit of smoke by this stage, by the way, so it’s good to have a window open or an extractor fan on — you’ll start cooking the steak proper. Drop the steak down on to its side and let it sizzle away. Timing here is important. The steak packaging and other recipes (particularly American ones, for some reason) may instruct you to cook it for something ridiculous like five to eight minutes each side — this is clearly madness. Go for no more than two minutes on one side then one minute on the other. If your pan is hot enough, this will cremate the outside quickly but leave the inside nice and pink.

Do not then plonk your steak straight onto your plate — you need to let the meat rest for five minutes or so to allow the juices to redistribute themselves and give you a nice even colour. I do this by placing the steak on a wire rack in a warm, pre-heated grill or oven, which lets the meat rest and also lets excess fluids drain off, but other people will place it on a flat surface — my reading and experimentation suggests to me that this isn’t so important as the resting itself, but your milage may vary.

Finally, transfer your steak to a plate and consume, alongside a small portion of charlotte potatoes, some wilted spinach and a glass of good red wine (Italian). The steak is the star here, so don’t drown it out with side dishes.

So, that’s how I do it. How about you?