Like most Aussies I enjoy a good steak – but I became disappointed nearly every time I ordered a steak from a pub because it was average at best and sometimes damn horrible. Obviously your expectations will be low if you are paying $15 for a steak at a crusty pub – but when you are paying $30+ for an overcooked and tough piece of meat I start to get annoyed.
So I set off on a carnivorous journey to discover the best way to cook a steak at home.
While I am no stranger to a BBQ, cooking a very good steak seemed to have an element of luck. Sometimes I would nail it and other times (such as my giant rib-eye that was horribly rare) it all goes wrong. There were so many variables such as initial temperature of the meat, thickness and size of the steak, cut of steak and whether it has a bone, BBQ temperature, cook time, rest time etc etc
To cut a long (and expensive) story short, my 3 month scientific steak test program was heading in the right direction but I could still not cook the perfect steak every time.
I started looking beyond the BBQ to other cooking options when I found out about the Reverse Sear method (thanks google).
Now I can cook awesome steaks – every time!
Step 1. Buy the best meat you can find. If you buy $15/kg steak from the supermarket you are wasting your time. My local supermarkets do sell some decent cuts from high end meat suppliers but I prefer the thicker cuts you can get from a real butcher. Expect to pay $30-$45/kg for good meat – which sounds expensive but is great value compared to buying a cooked steak at Vlado’s.
Step 2. There is no need to start with your meat at room temperature. It makes no difference.
Step 3. Preheat your oven to about 120deg C.
Step 4. Put your steak on a metal rack on top of a tray.
Step 5. Put the steak in the oven until the internal temperature reaches about 32-34deg C. This will take about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your steak. Yes you need a digital thermometer – they are only a few $ on eBay.
Step 6. Oil the steak (not the pan) and add salt and pepper if you like
Step 7. Put the steak in a super heated pan. I use a cast iron griddle pan and pre-heat it on the gas stove for 10-15 minutes on high. Caution: Do not use a non-stick pan as you will wreck your pan and potentially release harmful toxins in the air.
Step 8. Cook for 2 minutes each side. I need to open my windows and put my exhaust fan on the noisiest setting.
Step 9. Put meat back on metal rack and cover with foil to rest for 5 minutes
Step 10. Serve on a warm plate.
Admittedly I was aiming pretty high by trying to home cook a steak as good as you would get at specialist steak houses but I reckon the Reverse Sear method is the way to go. I like my steak medium-rare but you can adjust the oven time or the pan time to find what works for you.
So get yourself a digital thermometer, make friends with your butcher and have a couple of attempts of the Reverse Sear method. You may not nail it the first time but once you get it right it can be consistently replicated regardless of the cut or thickness of your steak.
But what about the BBQ? Wouldn’t that be better?
Once you have mastered it on the stove top you can have a go on the barbie – but I find the results are not as good. My BBQ doesn’t get as hot as my frypan and when it’s windy the temperature of my BBQ can fluctuate.