Wednesday, 8 October 2008

How to cook steak

AP loves steak. He thinks beef is the meat above all meats; it is uber-meat. I think it's a man thing :p To be fair, there are times when I really just want to sink my teeth into a juicy piece of steak. I find there's pretty good value for steak dinners here in Vancouver. Not necessarily cheap but you get a lot for your money. But then, it isn't that difficult to cook steak at home either. Especially when beef is actually much cheaper than chicken here in Vancouver. I bought two pieces of beautiful sirloin steaks from Safeway last week during a promotion. The promotional price was very good, but then even the regular price was cheaper than back in the UK. Price per kg, it was cheaper than skinless and boneless chicken breast, which didn't make a lot of sense to me... Well, we're defintely going to make the most of that!

Steaks are not difficult to cook. A good quality piece of meat, just some simple seasoning and minutes on a frying or griddle pan is all that is needed. Couple that with mashed or baked potatoes and seasonal greens or a salad, you have yourself a lovely meal. (You might even want to light some candles and open a bottle of wine for a special evening.) As long as you follow some simple but important points, you are more than likely to turn out beautifully cooked steak at home every time.

How do you like your steak?

Tips for cooking steak

1. Avoid buying steaks that are cut too thin as they are easy to overcook (which means no 'frying steaks' or 'minute steaks'). I tend to buy steaks that are about 3/4 to 1 inch thick.

2. Bring steak to room temperature before cooking, so make sure to remove the meat from the fridge at least 15 minutes before cooking.

3. Good meat should require little seasoning, so that the flavours of the meat itself can come through. But all meats will benefit from a light drizzle or brush of olive oil, and some salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4. Preheat the frying pan or griddle pan until very hot before adding the meat.

Steak on the griddle pan 1

5. Place the steak on a hot pan and cook on medium high heat, turning only once. If you want criss cross lines, rotate the steak on the same side after a minute of placing that side down.

Steak on the griddle pan 2

6. For rare, cook for 3 minutes on each side. The centre will be very red and when pressed, the juices will be a little bloody. For medium, cook for 4 1/2 to 5 minutes on each side. The centre will be pink and juices will be a little pink but mostly clear). For well done (if you really must...) steaks, cook for 7 minutes on each side. There will be no trace of pink in the centre, and juices (if any... just joking ;) ) will be clear. These cooking times are a guide and actual cooking time will depend on the thickness and cut of your steak.

7. IMPORTANT: Let the steak rest on a warm plate before serving. When just off a hot pan or grill, the meat is like a tense muscle. Resting for 5 minutes allows the meat to relax and the juices to flow, giving a much more tender texture and juicy flavour.

Here's our steak dinner, sirloin steak with mashed potatoes with mushroom and onion topping and steamed broccoli.
Sirloin steak with mashed potatoes with mushroom and onion topping and broccoli

Some would argue that a good steak should not be defiled by any such nonsense as sauces and toppings. I do agree that a good piece of meat should be able to stand up on its own so that one could enjoy its flavours for what they are. However, I also like a good peppercorn sauce, red wine sauce or a pat of garlic and parsley butter melting on a steak sometimes. For those of you who might like a bit of a sauce for your steak, here's an easy method:

Simple red wine sauce

After removing the steak from the pan, bring it back up to medium heat and deglaze the pan with a small glass of red wine. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, stirring to incorporate bits in the pan left by the steak. Add about 100ml of beef stock and simmer until reduced. At the end, turn the heat down to low, add a small pat of butter and stir until it melts, to enrich the sauce and give it a silky texture. Season with a little salt and a generous grinding of black pepper. Pour over the steak. You can omit the red wine and just use the beef stock if you wish.

Here is a slightly more fancy method with mushroom and onion:

Mushroom sauce

After removing the steak from the pan, bring it back up to medium heat. Add a small amount of finely sliced onions and cook until just turning soft. Add some finely sliced mushrooms (about 4-5; great if you can use portobello, brown chestnut or wild mushrooms) and continue to cook until the mushrooms are just starting to soften. Deglaze the pan with a small glass of red wine. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, stirring to incorporate bits in the pan left by the steak. Add about 100ml of beef stock and simmer until reduced. At the end, turn the heat down to low, add a small pat of butter (or sour cream) and stir until it melts, to enrich the sauce and give it a silky texture. Season with a little salt and a generous grinding of black pepper. Pour the mushroom and onion sauce over the steak. (You can omit the red wine and just use the beef stock if you wish.)

I topped the mashed potatoes with the mushroom and onion mixture and drizzled some of the sauce over the steak.
Mushroom and onions

18 comments:

Christelle said...

I love tasty and simple, and I loved your article. I usually have a good steak with some lettuce and dressing. I don't tend to go for the sauce, but I cook the steak with a bit of garlic, and a tiny bit of fresh chilli. I also love to have some sauteed shallots with a good piece of skirt! just before serving, I sprinkle with coarsly ground salt...
I love your choice of steamed broccoli. This dish is my staple diet. balanced, fresh, tasty and healthy, provides proteins, vitamins, fibers...
Your photos are fab too! :)
Simple's best, I raise my glass of red wine to you!

Lizzie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lizzie said...

Nice post!

I usually give steaks maximum two mins per side as I like it really rare. Just dijon mustard to accompany. Oh, if only sirloin were cheap here! Rib eye is my favourite cut.

Nate-n-Annie said...

Looks good to me.

Must be good to eat beef after living in the UK.

noobcook said...

Amazing, I love this post!! This is setting off an instant drool issue and a craving for nice juicy steak. How nice that beef is cheaper than chicken here in Vancouver ... I thought chicken is like the cheapest of all meats. I love thick thick steak too but they are costly to buy ... well not as costly as ordering it outside... hee

Beachlover said...

lovely photo!!I don't eat steak but do cook for hubby all the time.Honestly I dunno what part is good to cook what meal,so I just buy porterhouse steak!.I just rub with salt and pepper and pan fried! that all.Now you make me want to try out sirlion steak!

Mrs Ergül said...

This is so good! Now I have this post as a reference when I attempt steaks again!

I totally love mushroom sauce! Thank you very much for this post! It is very halpful!

tigerfish said...

I have not had steak often since I came back to Asia. Gosh, after I see your tantalizing photos, I feel like driving off somewhere to have some steak :O

DocChuck said...

Great post and beautiful photos.

As a 66-year old steak aficionado, born in Texas, I have been eating beef steak for about the last 65 years.

Never get tired of it.

Little Corner of Mine said...

I can't eat anything that looks red, so no steak for me. You sure cooked it right and juicy though.

Nilmandra said...

Christelle: Thanks for the nice comment! I do marinate mine with some minced garlic too. I got to try some paprika and chilli for seasoning next time.

Lizzie: That's pretty rare indeed! I've not had rib eye myself. People seems to argue over whether fillet or rib eye is the better cut for steak!

Nate n Annie: We do eat plenty of beef in the UK but it's certainly not cheaper than chicken!

Noobcook: Heh, true. But then you don't have to cook or wash up and clean etc. by eating out ;)

Beachlover: I swear, steak is such a man-thing :p

Mrs Ergul: Glad you like it. Actually your post about cooking steak for the first time gave me the idea for this article :)

Tigerfish: No need to drive out for steak, just buy some good meat and DIY :D

Doc Chuck: Thanks!

Little Corner of Mine: Is it just steak or anything raw/rare? How about sashimi?

mycookinghut said...

Nice post! My partner is a big fan of steak! The sauce looks simply good! By the way, was that a Laguile knife that I saw? :) I think they are just simple the best.

Marie said...

I, for one, love red wine sauces with steak. I haven't made or had it that way in a really long time, though. I have been craving steak lately, but have been scared away by the prices unfortunately. Sigh. :P

kokostiletto said...

omg this looks sooo good and easy to make!
thanks to you - this might be the first time i make steak!!!

Starlet aka Minutestar said...

OH no..I haven't had a good steak in like forever. .. Must get one for lunch today.

Nilmandra said...

My cooking hut: Yup it's Laguile :D I have a cheese knives set from them too. Love them!

Marie: It's a shame steak is expensive where you are. I think it's strangely cheap here, but maybe it's seasonal pricing too?

Kokostiletto: Do give it a go :) Just make sure to get the pan nice and hot before putting the meat in, and don't overcook!

Starlet: Enjoy your steak!

Kevin said...

That steak looks good! Just look at the pink.

Ninette Enrique said...

Amen to a good steak. My husband gets them over an inch thick, and he cooks them (I'm not allowed as steak is his territory :)). He makes a dry rub of different spices(celery seed is very nice on steak), or like you, just uses salt and pepper. Rib eye is our favorite. My kids are total steak-hounds.

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