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Cooking tips: the perfect steak

20-Apr-2013

The perfect steak at Pinetrees - Lord Howe Island 

We all know how to cook the perfect steak, right? Most of us think our steaks are pretty good – until you watch good chefs do their thing. It turns out that there are 4 critical parts to cooking the perfect steak. The first is the choice of meat. Sirloin and rump have great flavour, but can get a bit tough, while fillet is amazingly tender, but often lacks flavour. To solve this conundrum, we use 150 day grain fed fillet with a load of marbling – not quite Wagyu marbling (that’s a bit too fatty), but a ‘marble score’ of 3 or 4. Your butcher will know what this means. The combination of fillet and marbling is perfect – the fillet is tender and the marbling provides flavour.

The meat must be at room temperature before you cook it. Season it generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and then rub with olive oil. The cooking process is simple – sear both sides of the steak for about one minute on each side (or until well coloured). Most chefs say the same thing – “no colour, no flavour”. Then, put the steak (ideally on the same skillet) in an oven preheated to 200 degrees Celsius. As a guide, a steak 5cm thick will need 4 minutes in the oven to be cooked rare, 5 minutes to be cooked medium rare, and 6 minutes to be cooked medium. Add a few minutes to cook it more. Remember that each oven is different, so you’ll need a bit of trial and error to get it just right. Chefs can tell ‘doneness’ by touch, but you’ll need to cook a lot of steaks to learn that method…

The final stage is equally important – resting. The steak needs to sit in a warm place for 3-5 minutes to relax (literally – remember that it’s muscle) and continue to cook through. Don’t just rest the steak in the skillet that comes out of oven because this sometimes makes the steak stew and release too much moisture. The trick is to put the steak on a wire cake rack above the skillet, and then cover in aluminium foil. The wire rack ensures the steak remains moist and the foil creates an even resting temperature.

So after 2 minutes of searing, 4 minutes in the oven and 4 minutes resting, you’ll have the perfect rare (to medium rare) steak. Yes, you can serve it with any number of mustards or sauces – Béarnaise, mushroom and pepper are all great, but we prefer a simple dollop of Paris butter (or for a healthier option, then some salsa verde made from fresh garden parsley, anchovies, capers, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil). Sometimes, though, if the meat is really good and you’ve cooked it to perfection, then the salt and pepper you added prior to cooking is all you need. Good luck!

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