The golden rules of cook­ing the per­fect steak – and why you’re break­ing them

Irish Independent - - News - Geral­dine Git­tens

THE three golden rules of cook­ing a per­fect steak are be­ing dis­re­garded in house­holds across Ire­land.

Award-win­ning butcher Barry Ker­ri­gan reck­ons there are a few ba­sic tenets that should be fol­lowed to cre­ate the most mouth­wa­ter­ing hunk of beef. But it’s likely you’re not do­ing things right.

Many am­a­teur cooks throw the meat in the pan straight from the fridge, and start eat­ing it as soon as it’s cooked.

Not so, says Mr Ker­ri­gan, a self­taught afi­cionado who as­sumes con­trol of the kitchen at home when­ever steak is on the menu.

The owner of Ker­ri­gan’s Craft Butch­ers in Malahide, Dublin, knows his steak – his shop was re­cently crowned the best butch­ers in Ire­land.

His three golden rules in­clude the fact that steak needs to be cooked from room tem­per­a­ture – not from the fridge; it needs to be cooked both on the pan and in the oven; and it must be al­lowed to rest af­ter cook­ing.

But the process starts when the meat it­self is be­ing bought – at the butcher’s counter.

Firstly, cus­tomers should ques­tion their butcher on what farm their meat came from, what breed it came from, and the gen­der of the an­i­mal, Mr Ker­ri­gan says.

Fe­male cows, or heifers, tend to be more flavour­some. As do Here­ford, An­gus and Con­ti­nen­tal breeds.

Dry age­ing, for any length of time from 21 to 100 days, also im­proves the meat’s ten­der­ness, Mr Ker­ri­gan says.

“My top tip for cook­ing steak is ob­vi­ously to choose a good qual­ity piece of meat first,” he said.

“Per­son­ally, I think Here­ford, An­gus and Con­ti­nen­tal give a good level of mar­bling and that’s what gives you the juice and the flavour in a steak.”

He added: “If you like your steak well done, a thin­ner steak is bet­ter. That’s the ques­tion we ask the cus- tomer, how are they go­ing to cook their steak? And if they like their steak well done, I steer them to­wards rib eye be­cause the mar­bling keeps the steak nice and moist.

“Whereas with fil­let steak, if you cook it to well done, it’s go­ing to dry out and be tough.”

The next step is the cook­ing, which Mr Ker­ri­gan in­sists mustn’t be done when the steak is straight out of the fridge.

“If you’ve your meat in the fridge at two de­grees and you put it on the pan, the out­side warms re­ally quickly but the in­side is still cold. Room tem­per­a­ture al­lows for an even cook,” says Mr Ker­ri­gan.

“My per­sonal pref­er­ence is to fry the steak, it gives a chance to get a crust on it. The type of pan is im­por­tant. I use a cast-iron oven-proof grill pan. It’s an in­vest­ment, but if you get the right tools and make an in­vest­ment it works out very well in the long run.”

The pan needs to be smok­ing hot, and oil should be rubbed on the steak – not the pan – with sea­son­ing. Turn­ing the steak ev­ery minute on the pan is also im­por­tant, Mr Ker­ri­gan says.

“If I’m cook­ing an eight-ounce steak, which is about an inch-and-ahalf thick, I give it four min­utes on the pan. I turn it ev­ery minute, and then sear it on the sides as well. Then I fin­ish it in a pre­heated 180-de­gree oven, I put it on the tray in the oven if I don’t have an oven-proof pan.

“Af­ter four min­utes in the oven, I take the steak out and place it on a rack on a plate and al­low it to rest for two min­utes.

“It’s very im­por­tant to let it rest on a rack, you don’t want it sit­ting in the juices,” he added.

“What­ever juices pour out of the steak, you can pour back over the steak again when you serve it.”

For any cau­tious cooks who fear un­der­cook­ing their meat, Mr Ker­ri­gan sug­gests us­ing a meat probe which will tell you when the meat is cooked through.

“The longer you cook steak for, you’re cook­ing the mois­ture out of the steak.

“I would say to any­one that likes their steak well done, fin­ish it in the oven for eight min­utes and use your probe [to avoid over­cook­ing it],” he says.

‘Pour any juices that come out of the meat back over the steak when you serve it’

PHOTO: FRANK McGRATH

Top cuts: Barry Ker­ri­gan with four dif­fer­ent types of steaks at his award-win­ning Ker­ri­gan’s Craft Butch­ers in Malahide, Dublin.

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