Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How to cook Steak

Managed to get our hands on half a kilo of ribeye steak at reduced price, which made for a mighty fine dinner! If you have good quality beef, I think the best way to enjoy the meat is simply to rub some sea salt and olive oil and grill it - personally I don't like sauces with good meat because it would be simply sacrilege to cover up the natural flavours.

In my opinion, a steak should be eaten medium-rare. If you are eating out, obviously not a problem, just tell the chef the level of doneness. If cooking at home, how would you determine when it's perfectly cooked, since the thickness and size of the cut, the pan you use, and even the ambient temperature of the steak all affect cooking times?

A) Use a meat thermometer, stick it right into the middle of your steak. When the temperature reads about 55 deg C (for beef), remove from the heat and allow to rest for about 10 minutes in a warm place, it will continue to cook and the core temperature will rise to about 62 deg C which gives you medium rare. Problem - the meat thermometer really works well only for huge cuts like roasts, and can give quite erratic readings for thin cuts of meat like steaks. Also, by poking the meat, you "damage" it and lose some of the beautiful juices.

B) Cut it open and look at the inside. Obviously accurate but all the juices will be lost!

C) Use the finger test. This is quite fail-safe with some experience, and I have been using it for some time. Gently touch your third finger to the thumb of the same hand, and with another finger, press the fleshy part of the palm below the thumb. That is how a medium rare steak should feel. Touching other fingers to the thumb will give you the level of springness for rare, medium, and well done. See this very clear set of illustrated instructions here:

Behold my perfectly grilled steak! The beautiful cross marks were made with the aid of my lovely lovely Le Creuset cast iron sunflower-yellow grill pan. Remember that it is very important not to attack your steak immediately after removing it from the heat, MUST rest it for 5 to 10 minutes. Resting allows the meat to relax and the juices which have escaped into the inter-cellular spaces during the cooking process to return into the cells, so that the meat stays beautifully juicy and you don't end up having a pile of meat juice on your plate instead of in the meat.

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