Make Dad's day
PUBLISHED: 06:37 07 July 2014
Many fathers would be more than happy to cook or be served a perfect steak, but there is an art to choosing and cooking this wonderful ingredient. So to help me guide you through this process I have enlisted the wit and wisdom of Wells' master butcher Arthur Howell and Flying Kiwi Inns patron and chef Chris Coubrough.
Arthur on choosing your steak
Choose from a traditional beef breed; breeds such as Red Hereford and Aberdeen Angus will have a deep marbling through the lean meat, which means they will virtually baste themselves during the cooking process.
The most tender cuts will come from meat that has been hung on a hook for a minimum of 21 days, with lots of cold air circulating around it and drawing out the moisture in the meat that will concentrate the flavours.
Be aware that meat which has been labelled “matured” hasn’t necessarily been hung from a hook. It can mean it has been aged in a cryovac bag, which doesn’t have the best results – meat aged in cryovac bags doesn’t achieve this moisture escape and that’s why it doesn’t have the same quality of flavour.
Buy a steak edged with a nice piece of white fat on it; whiter fat will often give the meat a sweeter flavour.
Rump steak has lots of flavour and is best-cooked medium or well done to break down the connective tissue, otherwise it can be tough. It lends itself to being cooked at a high temperature – preferably on a barbecue – but that’s not to say you can’t enjoy it rare. Sirloin steak is Arthur’s favourite, because it combines succulence with flavour and tenderness.
Fillet steak is the most tender cut and is best eaten with minimal cooking. You can even eat it raw as a carpaccio or, like the French do, as steak tartare. It’s so tender because it comes from a muscle which is rarely exercised in cattle. There are three main sections to a fillet – the tail is used in steak tartare and beef stroganoff, the thick fillet head is used for chateaubriand, roasting and beef wellingtons, and the centre or “barrel” of the fillet is usually used for steaks.
T-bone and porterhouse steaks are the only steaks cooked on the bone and have lots of flavour. They are usually at least 1lb in weight.
The rib-eye comes from a piece of meat that connects the chuck steak to the sirloin. It was originally sold as a joint, but has now become more popular to eat as a steak.
“If there’s one piece of advice I’d give to anyone buying steak for Father’s Day, it’s this – make sure, if you’re buying fillet, that your butcher has removed the thin piece of silver skin,” says Arthur. “In my opinion this makes your eating experience more enjoyable, the flavour of the steak is so much better after cooking with this silver skin removed. If you get the right steak and you cook it to Dad’s taste you’ll be giving him a Father’s Day treat he’ll remember for a long time”.
Chris on cooking your steak
There are a few pointers to help even the most inexperienced steak chef put something delicious on Dad’s plate.
Set your cooker ring to a high heat, then rub salt and pepper into your steak, or if you prefer, chilli flakes, saffron or dried mushrooms – it’s up to you what seasoning you use.
Next, brush the steak with rapeseed oil on both sides and wait until the heat makes the air around the pan shimmer before placing it in.
It’s impossible to be exact, but if you’re cooking an inch-thick piece of sirloin steak give it a minute and a half to two minutes on each side and melt a knob of butter in the pan when you turn it over for added flavour. But before you flip it over, prod the meat gently with your finger – it should have started to firm up from its almost gelatinous raw state but should still yield to the pressure from your fingertip. If it’s as hard as the sole of your sandal you’ve overcooked it.
Fillet steak is best cooked rare, sirloin medium rare, and rump and rib eye steaks are best-cooked medium.
People often serve rump steak rare, but as it’s a less tender cut of meat I would advise you cook it medium, because that extra time on the heat will help to break down its connective tissue. When you’re happy that Dad’s steak is cooked to perfection, let it rest for the same length of time as it took to cook it before serving it.
For an easy sauce, try mixing equal measures of horseradish and crème fraiche together or heat through garlic butter with fresh herbs – chives, parsley and chervil are my favourites. A rich sauce can be made when you mix a creamy blue cheese into a hollandaise sauce, or if you like anchovies try adding a few spoonfuls of Gentlemen’s Relish into melted butter and pour over the steak.