Following the success of last week’s blog on the secrets to creating the best chocolate brownie, I’ve decided this week, to unveil our ultimate steak recipe. Over the past 6 years we've experimented to maximise juiciness, meaty flavour and texture. Finally, we've found the most incredible balance.
For me, the ultimate steak must have a crunchy, smoky, outside crust that contrasts perfectly with the pink, juicy, melt in your mouth interior that spans from edge to edge.
I will reveal cooking techniques that may seem deeply unconventional, but that is because most of us are conditioned to recipes often developed by commercial kitchens, with the goal of optimising for speed. At home, we have the luxury of time so we can alter our methods to maximise for succulent taste and texture. This recipe will allow you to cook a steak that is far superior to what is possible in any steakhouse.
This recipe is written for cooking with a conventional oven or a gas BBQ. The recipe is easily adaptable for a charcoal BBQ.
1) Buy a richly marbled cut of steak that is at least 1 ½ inches thick
The more marbled, the better. As the steak cooks, the fat will melt, integrating juiciness and flavour straight into the meat. You need to buy a thick steak otherwise the inside will be overcooked before you can create the sought after crust. At home, our favoured cut is the USDA Prime bone in ribeye, cut 2 ¼ inches thick.
2) Dry your steak in your fridge for 24 hours
Many cuts of meat are wet aged in a vacuum sealed bag. Let it breathe in the fridge, uncovered for 24 hours. This dries out any excess moisture from the surface. If your steak has been dry aged, you can skip this step.
3) Liberally season your steak and return it to the fridge for a further 24 hours
Season your steak with plenty of your favourite rub, ideally 24 hours before cooking but no less than 40 minutes in advance. The salt within your seasoning will slowly draw the juices to the surface of the meat, dissolve it and reabsorb it. The point when most of the juices are at the surface happens around 20-25 minutes after applying the rub. The biggest mistake most people make when cooking steak is putting it on to the grill or pan at this point – the steak is literally steamed using the juices on the surface leaving it dry and leathery. After 40 minutes the majority of the juices are absorbed back into the meat.
By seasoning 24 hours in advance, the seasoned juices will have time to penetrate deep into the meat, breaking down the muscle fiber along the way. This gives a deeper flavour as well as more tenderness. You will have an immediate advantage over most restaurants, who don't have the luxury of time, by following this step.
Our rub consists of 3 parts salt, 2 ground black pepper, 3 paprika, 1 ground dried porcini mushrooms, 1 garlic powder, 1 onion powder, 1 dried thyme in those proportions.
How liberally do we apply the rub? See below.
4) Smoke for 15 minutes to infuse your best wood flavours and to kill off any surface bacteria
For a gas bbq, turn on one burner at one end of the bbq and place the steak at the opposite end. It should be as far away from the heat source as possible. Ensure that the temperature around the steak reaches at least 68°C for at least 1 minute to kill off any surface bacteria. This is important because we will be cooking the steak at relatively low termperatures for a prolonged duration, just above the zone where bacteria can multiply. If you have smoke, the temperature generally far exceeds 68°C.
We usually use a mixture of pre-soaked hickory and cherry wood placed inside a smoking box but it’s just as easy to wrap the wood in tin foil and poke a few holes in the top.
If you are using an oven, you won’t be able to smoke your meat. Place the steak in your oven preheated to 75°C for 15 minutes to kill any surface bacteria. If you are concerned about the variablity of your oven's temperature, an accurate oven thermometer will give you plenty of reassurance here.
5) Cook low and slow for extra tenderness
After the smoking stage is finished, turn down the gas burner so that the temperature around the steak is 60°C. On our BBQ this is usually the lowest setting. If you are using the oven, turn the temperature down to 60°C.
The low temperatures cause certain proteins that form the structure of the connective tissues to denature, tenderising the meat. The slow cooking gives time for this process to happen.
Cooking gently also means that you maximise the edge to edge interior.
6) Remove from heat when the centre of your steak reaches 50°C for rare, 55°C for medium rare
Rest at room temperature on a wire rack whilst you perform the next step.
You need a cooking thermometer to know when your meat is done. Every oven and every cut of meat has different characteristics so timing cannot be relied upon if you want a consistently perfect steak. We use our ChefAlarm Professional Oven Thermometer and Timer to alert us when our target internal temperature is reached. The probe tip sits in the centre of the meat and we set the alarm to go off at 52°C/125°F. For our 2 ¼ inch steaks, the total cooking time, including the next step, is approximately 4 hours.
7) Sear your steak, turning every 15 seconds then allow it to rest
With your steaks on the wire rack at room temperature, turn up your BBQ to as hot as you can get it, remember to close the lid in this preheating stage. Then sear your steak, turning every 15 seconds. When turning your steak, make sure you don’t place the steak on the same part of the grill that you picked it up from. This minimises flare-ups and makes sure your steak comes into contact with a hot part of the grill with each turn. Remove when you have achieved a deep brown crust and rest on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes.
If you are using an oven, preheat your oven to the highest temperature and return your steak to it for 3-5 minutes. Alternatively, preheat a cast iron pan and sear turning every 15 seconds.
This step may seem unconventional as the common myth is that you should sear the steak first to seal in the juices. In reality, searing at the end retains more moisture, because the amount of time it takes to achieve a good crust is reduced due to the higher starting temperature of the meat when you begin to sear it. See our opening photo for juices!
Turning every 15 seconds maximises that edge to edge interior and reduces searing time by up to 30% meaning less moisture loss.
Resting your meat allows it to cool and for the juices to be redistributed evenly across the steak. The wire rack minimises further cooking on the underside of the steak.
8) Well, I lied. There is one last, very important step. Pour a large glass of good red wine, serve and enjoy!
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