'Which steak is the juiciest?' 'What steak is the most tender?' 'Which steak has the most flavour?
These are all common questons we hear over the counter everday in our butcher shops at Dobbies and Kirkcaldy High St, when customers are choosing their steak.
Popular cuts such as fillet, flat iron, sirloin and ribeye all have their subtle differences but one of the biggest influences on how your steak will taste is the cooking.
So here at Puddledub, we've asked Fife Food Ambassador and chef, Christopher Trotter for his top tips on cooking the perfect steak.
Christopher is going to show us exactly how to cook our steaks to ensure our steaks are tender, regardless of cut, offer some tips on what cut to choose and equipement to use.
Selecting your steak
As with roasting, size matters and its not so much the quantity of meat but the thickness that's key for cooking purposes.
You need to have a reasonable thickness otherwise the inside will be too cooked before the outside has formed the delicious crust required for maximum flavour, so make sure your steak is at least 2cm thick. Use this 2cm as a guide when browsing prepackaged steaks at the supermarket or ask for a 2cm thickness when requesting cut to order steak at your local butcher.
Top tip: A traditional rump steak will be difficult if buying one which crosses all three sections, far better to ask your butcher for a seam cut rump where you are only getting meat from one piece of muscle.
Top tip: The classic French “tournedos” is simply a fillet steak, it will come in a round shape as it is cut across the fillet or a piece of rump may be different shapes as it comes form a larger section of meat.
Tenderness and flavour
The simple rule of thumb is that the less work the piece of meat has had to do on the animal the more tender it will be, but also the less flavour it will have.
A fillet steak for example, has a lovely buttery tenderness but little flavour, whereas a rump will have great flavour but require a bit more teeth work.
Top tip: The French cut from the skirt such as bavette or onglette have great flavour but are notoriously difficult to cook and need much trimming, which a good butcher will do for you.
Christopher advises 'never cook a steak under a domestic grill, the heat simply isn’t hot enough '. You either need to cook it in a heavy based pan from which you can then create a sauce or on the barbeque or griddle pan.
If cooking in the kitchen make sure that either the windows are open or the extraction fan is on and doors to the rest of the house are closed as severe heat is required and this often also means smoke!
Preparation of your steak
If you buy a steak in a vacuum pack you must remove it from the pack a good hour before you cook it and also bring it up to room temperature.
Never cook a steak straight from the fridge. Make sure the meat is really dry i.e. no blood or water, use kitchen paper to dry it. This is simply to make sure you create the best possible conditions of getting a lovely brown crust, to keep juices in and give flavour.
Cooking your steak
If you are cooking in a pan to create a sauce after wards then get it smoking hot.
Add a touch of oil and then season the steak with salt and pepper and place firmly in the pan.
Brown on one side and turn and brown on the other and then brown all over. If this means leaning them against the pan side or using a pair of tongs so be it, but don’t jiggle the pan or constantly move the meat. It needs as much heat as possible, so minimum movement is necessary.
Once browned all over, reduce the heat to cook to your liking, this may mean straight out – blue – or maybe a couple of minutes for rare and so on. Once cooked allow the steak to rest for at least 5 minutes. It’s a question of balancing the cooking time and resting time, but all steaks need to rest even a well done one otherwise they will be tough.
If cooking on a barbeque or griddle pan, get them supremely hot and then roll the meat in a little oil first before seasoning and then place firmly on the hot surface and cook as above.