How To Cook The Perfect Steak

How To Cook The Perfect Steak


Let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like an exquisitely cooked medium-rare steak, a delicious peppercorn sauce and a bold bottle of red to round it off... And who doesn’t want to achieve all this in the comfort of their own home? Well who better than John Edwards, new head chef at 34 Mayfair, to tells us how to buy, prep and cook it all ourselves, to perfection.

What are the different cuts of steak out there?
There are a multitude of cuts available, from cheaper cuts like onglet to the premium fillet steak. Fillet does tend to be the most popular due to the low fat content, but then an onglet (also known as bavette or hanger) is great value for money. Between these, you have sirloin, ribeye and rump, which have lots of flavour due to the higher fat content. Prices vary depending on where you buy your steak.

But which one makes the best steak?
My personal favourite is a ribeye because of the fat content. It’s still tender and rarely dry, which is important to me and it stays moist through the cooking process, it’s definitely my go-to. When buying a steak for home cooking, you want to look for a good marbling. This is the white flecks and streaks of fat within the lean sections of meat. The more marbling, the tastier the steak will be. It is also worth making sure it is from a good farming origin. The best farms for steak are in Yorkshire or Cornwall. If you can get your hands on any US meat, I’d recommend Creekstone Farms, Kansas, which produces some of the finest Black Angus beef. We use this at 34 Mayfair and it’s truly delicious. 

How much should a good steak cost?
At a good butcher, you can expect to pay £22 per kilo, so roughly £7-8 for a 300g portion. If you want a great-value cut, choose onglet or rump, which are the best value for the taste level.

Do supermarkets do decent steak?
I would recommend Waitrose. While a little pricier than other supermarkets, the cuts are definitely of a higher quality compared to most.
What are the reasons to buy from a butcher?
They know and understand the products better. Purchasing from a butcher also guarantees you will be provided with the origin of the meat, which is very important. Buying from a butcher is a great way to support the local community, and I enjoy speaking to the guys and getting cooking tips from the guys that know. 

Before you start cooking, what should your prep look like?
It’s very important to take the steak out of the fridge 20 minutes before cooking and season it simply, but liberally, with salt and pepper. Seasoning is such an easy but imperative step. It is often forgotten, but it is the difference in taste between a restaurant steak and a home-cooked steak.

Can you share any pre-cooking hacks to your perfect steak?
Most people recommend patting the meat down, which is good advice, but be careful not to overdo it. I like to store the meat between pink butcher paper, which absorbs some of the blood. When purchasing from a supermarket, avoid buying packets where the steak is dripping in blood. 
Are there any great steak-cooking appliances you would recommend?
A great frying pan. That is definitely a worthwhile investment for the kitchen at home if you want to cook great steak.

How do you cook your steak?
I like to use a pan to cook my steak, as opposed to an oven or griddle. The most important thing is the pan is very, very hot before placing the meat in. This heat process normally takes between three and four minutes. Let the pan warm up until it smokes. Make sure you open your kitchen windows otherwise you’ll create a furnace. Put a little bit of olive oil on the meat and place it in the pan. Depending on how you like it cooked, you can leave the meat to cook for two to three minutes on each side. I like to add a bit of butter at the end of the cooking process, to be absorbed before serving.
And during cooking what should you do?
Resist the temptation to move the pan when the meat is cooking. Just let it cook and turn over only when needed.
What are the signs a steak is cooked?
The tricky thing with steak is that, even if there is great char on the outside, that doesn’t really indicate how cooked it is on the inside. So it’s best to go by feel: the more tender the steak is to touch, the rarer it is; and once there’s no give, it’s well done.

What are the timings for rare, medium rare and well done?
Well, it depends on the size of your steak. Once you can start to see the blood coming to the surface of the steak, it will be around medium. It’s best to go by feel instead of timings and go with your instinct. If you’re cooking a fillet, it can be served blue, but a ribeye needs to have the fat rendered down, so you don’t have a chewy texture and poor flavour. Therefore it needs to get to medium rare ideally. Once you’ve finished cooking, make sure you rest the steak in the pan and off the heat for a good five minutes before serving.
What do you reckon are the best sides for steak?
Crispy skinny fries! You can’t beat these as a classic side dish. They offer a nice textural contrast to the meat. The crispier the fries, the better. I also like to serve a steak with patatas bravas or onion rings. Sweetcorn is a great alternative if you don’t fancy a fried side.
What about the best sauces for steak?
My personal favourite is peppercorn sauce. It makes such an indulgent accompaniment to any steak. It's also easy to make at home. A really great peppercorn recipe is to finely chop half a shallot and add to the saucepan with oil. Crush 1-2 tablespoons of green peppercorns and add them to a pan with the brine. To this add 50ml of brandy and reduce it down by three-quarters. Next add veal stock (this can be purchased in supermarkets) or a beef stock will work too. Reduce down again by three-quarters (the consistency should coat the back of a spoon) and finish with a splash of double cream and spoonful of Dijon mustard. Cook for a couple more minutes and serve.

To top it all off, what are the best wines to go with steak?
A bold red wine always works with a steak but, for me, the wine choice depends on the cut. For a fillet, I would choose a pinot noir. A shiraz or zinfandel is great with a ribeye, and a beaujolais is my go-to for an onglet steak.


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