How to cook a steak

Mrs CJ and the CJ-lings are off for a few days on holiday while I work. This means I get to choose my own meals and have opted at least one night for steak. I like mine medium rare but hot and every time I’ve tried in the past I’ve been disappointed as it’s not as good as a restaurant.

I’ve got a reasonable size, reasonable quality (all I can afford) piece of sirloin. In the past I have tried ensuring it’s at room temp before cooking, grilling, frying in butter, frying in olive oil, resting it etc but it always disappoints.

Where am I going wrong and how can I cook it to perfection?

Get your steak from a good quality butcher or farm shop. Supermarket steaks are bloody awful as a rule, but if you have to get one from there get it cut for you at the counter rather than in one of those pre-packed off the shelve things.

Next time, get a fillet that is as high as it is wide (like a square).  Mix butter and olive oil and on a high heat sear the meat (seasoned with salt and pepper and some mustard powder) at a high heat on each of the sides of the square.  At the same time pre-heat the oven to around 150 degrees.  

Once each of the sides is seared and it has been cooked for some time on a lower heat, transfer to the oven for around 3 minutes.  This heats through even a rare steak (I like them medium rare but like you can't abide cold rare meat).

Supermarket steaks are sh1t.  Morrisons is ghastly otherwise but has proper butchers still and does great fillet.

Make sure the fat is marbled. Use a griddle pan to get those stripes. The M&S ones in the vacuum packs can be ok.  

What JackOfHearts says.  I reckon I do steak as good as restaurant (I tend to do ribeye)

 

Main things are:

get it dry,

well seasoned,

room temperature before you cook it, when searing, the pan has to be as hot as possible - insanely hot so it sets off the smoke alarm immediately.

turn it on its side with tongs to render off all the edge fat

v quick monte au beurre at the end

long rest

Thanks all - really helpful tips especially to cook it slow and low to start then sear it. Tom I like the oven idea but it will already be on at a higher heat but will try anyway.

Yes, regretfully it will probably be a supermarket steak but I’ll do the best I can with it. If I fail again I’ll know it’s down to the quality of the meat rather than my culinary skill.

also you need practice to know when it is cooked right.  you can use a meat thermometer when you start, but it is no substitute for feel

Easy. Use clarified butter. Do not use oil.

Step 1: preheated pan, high heat, 2 minutes on each side. Do not move the steak. Should have a nice crust once you turn it. If it doesn't, (i) heat is too low, (ii) you moved the steak, or (iii) your pan sucks.

Step 2 (unless you want it rare): move steak to oven (preheated to 180°C). Leave in depending on thickness of steak and desired result. Concrete time will depend on your oven. 2-3 minutes for medium rare, another 2 for medium, any longer and why bother to begin with.

The reverse sear posted above is by far the best/easiest way to get a restaurant quality steak at home but it doesn't really work if the steak isn't at least an inch and a half thick. 

but it doesn't really work if the steak isn't at least an inch and a half thick. 

 

That's true.  Best is to get a big prime rib (aka cote de boeuf) and share it.

Have had good results with Bavette steak, both from Waitrose in the oven and M&S in the pan.  Leave out coated in oil, thyme, salt, pepper for 15 minutes to get to room temp, v. hot pan, 2.5 minutes per side, rest under foil 5 minutes, eat.

This is my method. 

Salt steak generously both sides

Olive oil in pan, hot.

Add steak and sear both sides.

Turn down heat and add lots of butter, two crashed garlic cloves,rosemary. 

Tilt pan and baste topside with butter liquid. Cook slowly both sides basted. 

Add a lot of salt and pepper to cutting board, place steak on salt and pepper, pour contents of pan out onto steak. 

Turn pan over and place over steak. Leave for 5 minutes. 

Now, I then slice the steak into strips and mix up with juices, salt and pepper. 

Sirloin should be medium imo. Enjoy!

It is an impossible question to answer.

 

It sounds like you don't really know how you like your steak.

 

I will reveal a little of how I do mine.

 

Nice steak from posh butcher.  In a nice bit of london this probably sets you back about £20.  per steak.  Or go to a farmer's market in London for the extrqa "we bought this from lidl, re-wrapped it in cling film and charged you £25" immolation.

I still smack the crap out of it and then marinade (ate?) in my special sauce.  This does not, in my case, involve semen. Or seamen.  Or the semen of seamen.  Can we leave any rear admiral jokes here?

For as long as poss.  wrapped in the fridge in cling film.  (the steak, not my willy.)  

 

Take out and allow to warm to room temp.  Heat griddle pan until the oil or butter is well hot.  It doesnt matter if it's oil or butter unless u r a bellend.

 

fry.

 

wait.

 

wait some more.

 

can you see a bit of grey creeping into the pink round the edges.*

 

*put grandad jim back in his padded cell.

 

flip

 

slightly less time now, 

 

and

 

done

 

plop on board and wrap in some foil.

 

wait another thirty seconds so you can plate up everything else i havent explained how to do.

 

so you feel like a chef, like

 

cut off the rancid fatty bit

 

done!

 

(you removed the foil, right?)

Here in Germany,  Aldi sell ridiculously good Irish ribeye for 7e btw. Might be true in the UK too, if brexit hasn't buggered up the supply chain. 

so you prefer irish cow to german, despite the horrific carbon wotnot?

 

w**ker

 

Bet you couldn't tell the diff, i know I couldn't

I have never eaten a steak in a resto that was better than one i cooked for myself.

 

i wouldn't bother ordering one these days tbh.

 

steak is personal

 

 

I'm doing the breathing technique but got a slap on the wrist from my GP about the cold water therapy as I have the wrong sort of blood pressure, apaz.  Working on sorting out the BP as the little bit I did was awesome.

Butter smokes v early so not great for cooking a steak in. Ditto olive oil (especially extra virgin). Use a normal cooking oil. And then after you've seared it, reduce and add the butter. Google the thumb press trick and see how to determine level of cookedness from pressing on it. 

No butter, it burns too quickly, ditto, Olive Oil. Heat pan, for 15 mins on the highest heat possible, with no oil of any description. Don't salt or pepper as yet. Place steak in pan, ideally a heavy(ish) one. cook for 3 mins either side, turn and repeat. Rest for ten mins under a cloth. Golden .

Waitrose dry aged steak - they have a special separate cabinet and everyfing - is very very good (as it should be at the price).

Oil (olive) the room temp meat not the pan - very hot pan - two mins on one side (don’t move it during two mins) two mins on other side (assuming c.2.5cm thick rump or similar) - rest on warm plate in warm oven for at least 5 mins - salt, pepper, Dijon moutarde = sublime.  

you need some fat on the meat to help with the taste

do not use olive oil, sun flour or similar gets hotter and then add a bit of butter

if you are not sure your supermarket steak is the best do the pineapple trick -

personally, i almost always BBQ steak on the BBQ at about 350 with lid closed, very quickly sealing the meat and getting it juicey probably 2/3 mins per side. In a pan, you want to turn a lot and probably cook a bit longer than you think you need to. 

The pineapple trick: you take a pineapple and you chop it up (remove the crown but don't peel it or take off the base) chop it all up and then blend the lot so you get a sort of horrible pineapple soup. immerse the steak for probably 40 minutes no longer (absolutely do not go over an hour!). Pineapple is full of protein eating enzyms that will boost the quilty of your steak. After 40 mins wash it under a tap, it might look paler, pat dry then cook. This is not a marinade this is a chemical brine. 

German meat is terrible.  They don't age it properly.  There is a German phrase that goes Germans will spend a 1000e on a bbq, and put cheap crap on it. It's so true. 

Use a meat thermometer. 

Dry steak, salted

Hot pan, turn regularly

Pull when the internal temperature is 52 and let it rest. It will creep up to 54. 

You can't have a steak that is both medium rare and "hot" on the inside. 

The secret is to use a cast iron pan you can get really hot (smoking), oil the steak in advance and then add butter half way through.   Unless you set the smoke alarm off you are not doing it properly, that is my rule of thumb

 

Top of the featured discussions, eh? What happens Risky, when you zap this one? Does it disappear from the fd list or does the link not work?

Interesting experiment, fill your boots!

Have a look at Meathead Goldwyn's book, or website amazingribs.com.

It is BBQ focused but has some great tips that transfer to indoor cooking - plus some actual science, around what meat is and how it cooks.

Key points: salt (no pepper until after cooking) a couple of hours in advance ideally; don't bother bringing to room temperature, keep it moving over scalding heat; use a heavy cast iron pan; no grill marks - they are just burnt bits on a background of poorly cooked flesh; and don't bother resting it - it'll just cause the inside to overcook and won't magically suck moisture into the meat fibres.

CJ. Have you cooked a steak by my method yet? 

I was lazy yesterday, used the other plebs method. Ghastly. 

Haven’t tried it yet. Going to be this weekend.

Unfortunately, from the advice on here I’m more confused than ever:

  • get it to room temp
  • don’t get it to room temp
  • don’t move it while cooking
  • Move it while cooking
  • put it in the oven to rest
  • don’t put it in the oven to rest

Will try a random mix of the tips that look good and let you know.

Think I’m doomed to failure anyway as it’s a Tesco’s finest sirloin so whatever I do is apparently only going to be fit for the dog.

If you keep it in the fridge and don't cook it well done, it will still be cold in the middle. And you really want it medium to medium rare.

Also, if it wrapped in plastic, you need to let it air to get rid of the smell and the protective atmosphere.

So:

Bring it out of fridge at least an hour before cooking. Unwrap. 

Salt both sides.

Bring a heavy pan up to maximum heat. No real need for oil.

Sear each side for 2-3 minutes, depending on thickness. Do not move it around.

Stick it in a hot plate warmer, or 50 degree oven, for 5 minutes.

Serve with whatever you fancy.

SJH - that’s similar to what I have planned although I’m very interested in Jack’s tip (and others) of the reverse sear.

I’m having it twice so might try both and let you know the results.

"you can use a meat thermometer when you start, but it is no substitute for feel"

This is poor advice.

Invest in a good food thermometer and learn how to use it. Anything else (eg 'feel') is just guesswork.

The desired "doneness" of your steak will determine the temperature you cook to. But bear in mind that you need to let the meat rest (after cooking) for at least as long as you cooked it, and the steak will continue cooking while resting. So if I was reverse searing a piece of sirloin and wanted it on the rare side of medium rare, I would cook it to mid-high 40s, remove and rest until it was up to mid 50s (and get the bbq up to a high temperature while doing so), and then slap it back on to the grill to sear it before serving.

(I always cook on a charcoal bbq, but ofc you could do the same in an oven followed by a pan.)

When you remove your steak from the fridge, the purpose is not only to get it to ambient temperature. You also want to get the meat as dry as possible, otherwise much of the heat energy in the cooking process goes to evaporating the moisture. So take it out several hours ahead of schedule, and place it on a grill or similar so that air can circulate around it. If necessary, pat the surface with a kitchen towel.

 

(Actually it's a good idea to leave the meat uncovered in the fridge to start removing the moisture, if you've bought it far enough ahead of cooking.)

Oh, and turn it every 15-30 seconds when searing. This will produce the Maillard reaction, where the proteins and sugars react to give that crispness on the outside.

(The 70-30 method is probably helpful in steakhouse where they are cooking many multiple steaks at once and can't devote very much time to each steak. Don't do this at home.)

If you don't follow my method CJ. I will disown you. 

You get an amazing garlic rosemary salty steaky sauce with mine. 

I am prepared for that TCV. Have a feeling I’ll make a lot of enemies.

btw - you realise I had the last word on the final word thread…

 

 

….AGAIN.

CJ, mine is intended to be a simple way to cooking a decent steak. Not foolproof,  but a good base from which to experiment.

I much prefer a rib eye as the marbled fat helps everything along, but with a shop bought sirloin you won't go far wrong with my set up above.

Thanks SJH. I will reread the whole thread tomorrow afternoon (if Risky hasn’t zapped it by then) and make a decision!

Rib Eye is definitively the best simple cut. That fatty eye is delicious if you baste it in butter and garlic. 

The secret is to make sure it is dry, rub with oil, put in a very hot pan, turn once then it must rest for at least 5 minutes. many mistakes with wet meat and not hot enough pan and then it goes grey and boils. 

Wot Missorms said, but dont forget to season - just before it goes in the pan

Perhaps it’s like having sex, you just have to get on with it and fathom your own route 😉

Kingfaffs advice to keep turning will produce the opposite of the mallard effect. 

As others have said let it come to room temp salt and pepper when dry. A bit of oil if you like on the steak. Not in the pan. Cast iron screaming hot. Two mins max each side if reasonably thick. 30 seconds searing the fat on sirloin (use tongs). I don't personally put in the oven unless particularly thickjust wrap loosely in foil for 5-10 minutes as it will still continue to cook through. 

Butter for last two mins only to baste otherwise butter will burn. 

Meat thermometer is definitely a substitute for feel but shouldn't need it for a single steak unless very thick. 

DO NOT MOVE YOUR MEAT!!!

What the others say really though. I tend to rub my steaks with garlic oil, sprinkle salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper and whack it in a crazy hot pan, turning once.

There are a million pieces on youtube about this from any number of chefs. They mostly agree. Dont ever pepper it before it goes in, it will burn and make the meat acrid. Don't move it ever. Save for once each side for however long you want it to be cooked for.

Bring it from the fridge as early as you can. NO oil in the pan just a bit on the meat, and rest the fooker properly, that is key. There are some shocking methods here none of which you will see on youtube by proper chefs.

Thanks Ebit. Due to Tesco’s fiasco, steak night will now be tomorrow. Updates will follow, I promise!

It’s out of the fridge and the wrapping, getting it to room temp and trying to dry it - will give it a couple of hours min, possibly longer.

OK, majority suggested salting it (no pepper) beforehand so I have. I’ll cook in a couple of hours. On Rof advice (and due to Tesco incompetence) I got a thickish piece of rib eye today (sirloin will be Mon or Ties).

Nice. Baste that eye in butter, garlic and rosemary. 

I also have ribeye for dinner. Very exciting. 

Sorry TCV - majority view is not to baste until the last minute. I’m having a steak cooked by Rof consensus (a first I believe).

It’s done. Taking the Rof consensus, this is what I did:

  1. Take a nice thick piece of rib eye
  2. Remove from fridge 2-3 hrs early and cover but allow to dry.
  3. salt both sides about an hour before cooking.
  4. Superheat a cast iron pan
  5. 2 mins on each side without moving (the steak, I allowed myself to stir the onions) while cooking.
  6. rest in loose foil (again, faod, the steak. I thought it excessive to cover myself in foil no matter how important the taste might be) for at least five mins
  7. add butter and garlic for the last two mins.

Rof, you have outdone yourselves. That steak was delicious, full of flavour, perfectly cooked and easy to cut.

Thank you all.

Lesson learnt? Remove smoke alarm batteries prior to cooking.

(Let me know if you want updates when I do the sirloin in a couple of days)

I totally disagree with not moving it at all. You'll get a much better crust by turning it frequently.

I’ll stick to rib eye in future. Thanks Rof for all your help with this. 
 

See - Rof can be a force for good in an evil world!