A good cut of meat is like a really beautiful diamond. You don’t need to cover it or carve it up. All you need is to know which cut you want and why… and to cook it to perfection. Doing that is half science, and half art, but here are a few things I’ve learned:
◆ My favourite cut is the porterhouse steak, because you get the fillet, sirloin and a big, juicy bone all together in one piece. The bone is actually the secret to a really flavoursome steak as it protects the meat and helps to keep it juicy. To cook it properly, fry the steak on a griddle pan as usual then at the end use tongs to balance the meat on the bone until it is hot to touch.
◆ Buy steak that has been aged for three to four weeks and find out if it’s been dry or wet aged. Dry ageing, where they hang a whole side of beef for up to 30 days in a temperature-controlled environment, is best because the meat loses liquid and this concentrates the flavour.
◆ Charcoal caramelises the fat in the meat, so cooking on a barbecue is best. Season and oil the meat before cooking and leave it in the fridge for half an hour to let the meat absorb it. At my restaurants, we use a special seasoning mix which includes white and black pepper, dehydrated onion and garlic, thyme, rosemary and sea salt, all blended together in a food processor.
◆ When cooking, how rare or well done you like your steak concerns the thickness of the cut, not the weight of the meat. A piece of steak that is two inches thick should take five minutes cooking on each side to be medium rare.
◆ There’s a simple way to tell how well-cooked a steak is. Press your finger into the flesh between your thumb and forefinger when your hand is splayed and the fingers are wide apart – that’s how springy a medium-rare steak should be when you press your finger into it. Press the same part of your hand when it’s clenched and that’s the texture of a well-done steak. Basically, the rarer the cooked meat is, the softer it is.
◆ Rest your steak for five to 10 minutes before serving to make sure all the juices aren’t lost when you cut it open.
◆ To make a quick sauce, mix chopped shallots, red wine and a dash of your favourite sauce (ketchup, mustard) then add hoisin sauce, before finishing off with butter, cream and peppercorns.
◆ If cooking steaks for a large group of people, cook two of them at a time and then finish them all off together in the oven, so they are the same temperature when you serve.
Additional images: Rex Features