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Classic Mis-steaks (and how to avoid them)

Updated: Mar 23, 2021

A properly cooked steak is a wonderful thing, and you don’t have to go to an expensive steak restaurant to experience this, not anymore anyway. In fact I rarely order steak when out as I often feel I can source (the important part!) or cook something better at home.

I’m not going to get into the merits of how a steak should be cooked, rare, medium, well etc, because it comes down to personal preference, and we are all wonderfully different creatures. My dear mother for example doesn’t like to have red blood-like (it’s not blood, its water and myoglobin though) liquid swimming around her plate so always has a steak well done. For me, I feel you find the best flavour and texture at medium-rare; is she confused?, am I despicable? I don’t think so, well, not about steak preference anyway.

Get it right.

So, below are my top Dos and Don’ts for reaching steak nirvana, you can also check out other methods for cooking a good steak too HERE.

Do buy a decent steak – This is probably the most important here. You can’t polish a turd as the old saying goes, and you can’t elevate an already poor quality steak. You can alter your method of cooking to accommodate the type of cut you’re wrestling with, low and slow for tougher pieces for example, but when it comes to regular steak, you want it sourced well. This starts at the beginning; the farmer will have ensured a good diet and lots of sunshine. When Featherblade gets it it’s up to us to age and cut it right. Ever see a bright red plain looking steak on a supermarket shelf? Not so delicious. If you live near a good butcher go to them, you might pay a little more but it’ll be worth it. If not, try online, or lastly an upmarket supermarket/grocery store.

Don’t cook the steak from the fridge – However a steak is preferred, it’s likely you want it seared on the outside, this resulting from the Maillard reaction. Most of the tips on here are to enhance exactly that. One requirement is heat, and throwing a cold steak on a hot pan means the pan will have to work to get back up to temperature. Some might dispute this, and it isn’t a deal-breaker, but I find you get a more evenly cooked result.

Don’t put oil in the pan - If you’re cooking a fatty ribeye, marbled striploin, or Wagyu steak, I’d really question whether you need oil at all, but if you have to, then put it on the steak beforehand, preferably with a brush so it’s not saturated. Season after so the seasoning attaches to the meat. If not using oil, then actually pat it down with paper towels before seasoning to remove any excess moisture.

Don’t season too long before cooking – More science here. Salt on the surface of the steak will draw moisture out to the surface, again affecting the Maillard browning. I’ve read if you leave it longer than 45 minutes or so it gets drawn back in as the salt does too, but I normally stick with seasoning just before it goes in the pan.

Do use a fiercely hot pan – You want it smoking! Crank the pan up to a high heat until you can almost see it smoking, then turn down to a medium heat and leave it there. Same goes for the steak once it goes in, don’t be moving it around or poking it, let it sear. Moving it about sucks heat from the pan, which is just a waste.

Do let it rest – An important one at the end. I always rushed this when I was younger, patience came with age I suppose. Now that you’ve assaulted your steak with intense heat, you need to give it time to rest and recover. The fibres in the meat will relax as it cools, redistributing the juicy goodness inside around the streak too. 5 minutes should be good, and you shouldn’t have to cover it either, doing so with foil will trap heat and steam within which will only cook it further.

Lastly, not really a tip but a suggestion: keep it simple. The best steaks I’ve ever had have been with a simple salad and roasted chunky chips. Just the salad works too, a nice bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil really compliment the wonderful seared flavour and texture of the steak. As always, we are available in store to field any questions or specific requests you have.

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