The Perfect Steak
Knowing that salt draws moisture from food, this method of preparing steak may seem counterintuitive if we want our meat to be moist and juicy. But work it does, particularly on cheaper cuts, which are likely to be a little less tender.
Here’s how it works. The salt will draw some of the moisture from the meat; that moisture dissolves some of the salt, and then osmosis draws that salted water back into the meat, in an attempt to even out the quantities of both moisture and salt. When the salt is absorbed into the meat, it begins to denature the protein cells, unwinding their regular structure so that they become like little bird’s nests. And when the heat of the cooking begins to liquefy that fat within the muscle and to heat up the moisture within the cells, the proteins trap all of that flavourful goodness within the meat. Which results in…
You will need to prepare the meat at least 1 1/2 hours before serving. Cover the surface of a plate with salt, and place the steak on top of it. Cover the top surface of the steak with salt so that the meat cannot be seen. Let this stand for an hour. Heat a heavy cast-iron frying pan so that it is very hot. Meanwhile, brush all of the salt from the steak and pat very dry with paper towels. Pour a little oil into the frying pan and as it heats to smoking point, grind a little fresh black pepper over the steak. Carefully place the steak into the pan and cook without touching for 4 minutes. Turn the steak and cook for another 3 minutes. Turn down the heat, take the steak from the pan, put it on a plate and cover loosely with foil to rest. Pour a small splash of red wine into the pan and scrape with a spatula to deglaze. Add an equal splash of beef stock and stir whilst reducing. When it is reduced by half, turn off the heat and add a small knob of butter, incorporating it by making gentle waves in the sauce with the spatula. Transfer the steak to a serving plate, pouring any remaining juices back into the sauce. Add a final twist of black pepper to the sauce and pour over the steak. Serve with a simple green salad.
It is important that you only use coarse sea salt for this recipe, and that the salt is brushed off completely and the steak patted thoroughly dry before cooking, otherwise the finished meat may become too salty.