How many of them have you read? The recipe for the ‘perfect steak’. Every (male) idiot who ever owned a barbecue believes that he holds some mystical secret that makes his steak better than every other. They (you, if the cap fits) are almost all wrong. I have seen grown men squeezing the base of their thumbs and then poking their flaming steaks in an effort to prove perfect doneness. Most don’t know what they are doing. If I try that approach, I mess up the arthritis in my talon-like hands. I can prove nothing except that I can inflict some pain on myself. Blokes with fat hands only demonstrate that the steak is as thick as themselves.
Others insist on frying the steak in butter. This is the behaviour of an idiot. Butter burns at a pretty low temperature. A tasty steak needs lots of direct heat and is not enhanced by the acrid taste of burnt butter.
Some say that one should “cover the base of the pan with oil”. Even assuming that they mean the inside surface rather than the base, this is also daft. The steak stands a good chance of being oil-logged and the chef blinded by thick, black smoke.
People who live in countries where good quality beef is unavailable tend to cook their meat on the barbecue, hiding all their crimes in a thick crust of carbon. With apologies to Donald Rumsfeld, a great steak is to them an unknown known. Given that they think they know, we will leave them to their own devices. It really is a no know.
Having got all that off my chest, it’s time to steak my claim and claim my steak’s position at the head of the herd. To cook a great steak, you need to start with great steak. One of my cycling buddies, James, is a butcher. He runs Lawlor’s Butchers in Rathmines. I consulted him on the steak. He supplied me with (sold me at full retail) a pretty chunky Bone-In Rib cut.
It had been properly dry aged for over 35 days. To make it a bit more manageable, he cracked the rib bone in a couple of places.
Here’s what I did to produce the best steak I (or anybody else) have (has) ever cooked. Mine ended up in a sandwich so I needed a half a dozen onions to go along with the steak. Long before I got to cooking it (2 hours long) I took the hunk of meat out of the fridge. This was to allow it to reach room temperature. While it was resting, I wasn’t. I chopped the onions into nice big slices.
The onions were placed in a frying pan (skillet), on a low heat, with a good dollop of olive oil.
Side note on what oils to use: Only a buffoon would use olive oil to seal a steak. The oil burns in the hot pan and then fails in its primary role of acting as a barrier between the pan and the meat. It also sets off the smoke alarm. However, for onion reduction, it is perfect because the temperature is much lower and the oil doesn’t burn. It also adds a nice flavour to the onions.
The onions occupied pretty well all of the two hours while the meat rested. I just had to stir them every couple of minutes. This ensured an even result and prevented the onions from burning. If you think burnt oil is acrid, burnt onion is enough to make you spit. I enhanced the onions by adding a half teaspoon of brown sugar and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar near the end of cooking.
Next, I heated the oven to 200ºC. Then placed a cast iron frying pan (skillet) on the stove top and heated it until the handle was too hot to touch (Work it out or burn your fingers). Next, I seasoned the beef. I added enough oil (peanut or sunflower are good) to let me rub the meaty bits of one side of the steak – No more than that.
I placed the steak seasoned (and oiled) side down in the dry frying pan. I didn’t touch it again for 5 minutes. I seasoned, but didn’t oil, the other side while it was in the pan. Then I turned it over. This was a huge beast of a thing and needed two of us to turn it.
I browned it for a couple of minutes on the second side before sliding the thing, on the pan into the oven. I left it there for 35 minutes (until the internal temperature reached 48ºC) and took it out to rest. The temperature continued to rise to 55ºC while it rested. This took about 10 minutes. At that, it was cooked. Thanks be to goodness for the meat probe. I carved (Cut into big meaty slices) the steak.
The Wife and I enjoyed the steak in big sandwiches.
A big hunk of beef needs a big powerful red wine to balance the occasion. This bottle of Aurelius didn’t let the side down.
The net result of all this steak bravado was that both the Wife and I completely over-ate and possibly over-drank. I wouldn’t/couldn’t do this every day. But, once in a while it is a carnivore dream come true. It was fantastic. So, if you want to cook the perfect steak, follow this guide and ignore the bull.