The Pub Chef teaches you all the steps you need to know about how to cook steak: choosing the right steak, preparing it, and what utensils to use including skillets, pans, and which meat thermometer to use.
Part 1, Choosing Your Cut and Preparation
There is one question that the Pub Chef hears ten times more than any other, “how do I cook the perfect steak?” In fact, if Pub Chef hears this question again, he will sand off his ears with a truffle grater.
Let’s get something perfectly clear…THERE IS NO PERFECT STEAK!
By this, the Pub Chef means that the act of choosing, preparing, cooking, and eating a steak is an inherently personal experience. Basically, you could go to a barbecue, restaurant, or dinner party in which 10 people are sitting there dribbling and drooling, waiting for their lovely steaks to arrive. It’s not inconceivable that EVERY ONE OF THEM likes their steaks done in a different way and from a different cut of the beast, and so the concept of the perfect steak is a legendary myth up there with unicorns, Atlantis, the philosopher’s stone, and the generous Scotsman.
I’ll give you an example. When the Pub Chef was younger, he used to go to get a steak with his grandfather, sometimes on a Sunday. In those days the Pub Chef liked a well-done steak, like lots of younger people do, whereas grandfather preferred his steak to be extremely rare. Pub Chef’s grandfather could often be heard advising the chef to “rip its horns off, wipe its bum and show it to the flame’ indicating that what he actually wanted was a ‘blue’ steak, the least cooked of them all. The cut matters as well. If you are a fan of well-done steaks there’s no way that you would want rump steak. If you have rump, well-done, then I suggest you order it on a Friday because you will still be chewing it on Monday! Well-done rump steak is as tough as a cowboy’s bunions.
Anyway, enough of this merriment, on with the good stuff.
Choosing Your Cut
As mentioned previously, the cut of steak you choose depends on personal taste, each different cut provides you with different levels of flavor and tenderness. It can also depend on how much money you have in your pocket at the time too.
Flank steak and Bavette are very reasonable cuts, the Pub Chef’s advice is to cook them on the barbecue to no more than medium.
Onglet or hanger steak contains tons of flavor but don’t cook this one beyond rare or it will have the consistency of rope used in the battle of Trafalgar (it really does look like rope).
Rump steak is the famous go-to cut for families on a budget. This cut is the least expensive of the prime steaks but doesn’t cook it above medium unless eating the soles of boots is your thing.
There is nothing wrong with the steaks mentioned above but if you want to splash out a bit more you can go for a:
Sirloin steak is similar to fillet but with a bit more flavor. It apparently got its name after being ‘knighted’ by King Charles II, turning ‘loin’ into Sir Loin! Best eaten medium-rare.
T-bone steaks are delicious, especially if you finish cooking them in the oven.
Fillet steak can cost you a week’s wages but is the most tender cut and is best served blue or rare.
Rib-eye steaks provide a couple of cuts, one is boneless and the other on the bone. The Pub Chef always has one of each.
Flat-iron steaks are cut from the beast’s shoulder blade. The Pub Chef never cooks this cut past medium.
Steak snobs sometimes prefer to adopt a minimal seasoning attitude by adding nothing more than a large pinch of salt and some pepper. DO NOT listen to the detractors who say that pre-seasoning your steak with salt and pepper will dry the steak out by drawing out the moisture- absolute nonsense! This kind of pre-seasoning actively gives your cut the time to absorb the seasoning and renders it more seasoned throughout. Put the salt on your steak in advance, 2 hours for every inch of thickness is best. For a lovely peppered steak, dust a plate with loads of sea salt and cracked black pepper, and then squash the steak onto the plate to soak up the seasoning. Then put it straight into the pan.
Another way to tenderize the steak and enhance the flavor is with a tasty marinade. The simplest and most effective marinades for steak are balsamic vinegar, which will reduce down to a sweet glaze during cooking or a coating of honey and mustard. There are dozens of fancy marinades that you can use according to taste including miso or teriyaki if you are feeling a bit far-eastern.
The Pub Chef’s favorite steak flavoring is to add whole garlic cloves and full-bodied herbs like rosemary and thyme to the hot oil while the steak is cooking. This will add a subtle background flavor, without overwhelming the steak.