The art of cooking the perfect steak seems to elude most of us. But help is at hand. In the fight for better bovine we’ve turned to Fernando Larroude – esteemed master griller at Argentine restaurant Gaucho – for his tricks on making your way to medium rare magic.
It’s time to sizzle.
Myth 1: Fillet is the finest cut
Yes, it is the most expensive. It’s also the most tender due to being a lazy, unused muscle. But that doesn’t that mean it should be your number one choice. “I would choose a sirloin or a rib-eye,” says Fernando. “They have more fat. It gives the beef that marbled effect and gives wonderful flavour.”
Myth 2: Cook your steak in butter
Olive oil or the yellow stuff may seem like the natural way to fry your steak, but neither will make your beef the best it can be. “Beef fat is the best,” says Fernando. “It’s what will give it the most flavour. Melt some beef fat in your pan before you start to cook, and then brush it on your steak. You can add a little chilli or some herbs to the fat, too, if you fancy. Too much liquid in the pan, and you’ll boil the meat, so go easy.”
Myth 3: Give your steak 30 minutes to come to room temperature
Half right. You do need to give your meat time to warm up a little – don’t cook it straight from the fridge. “But if you’re cooking a big piece – say a kilo to feed a dinner party – it needs a couple of hours,” Fernando advises.
Myth 4: Cook the steak for the same time on each side
Wrong. “If a medium-rare steak is what you’re after, cook it for four minutes on the first side, and two minutes on the second side,” says Fernando. You want to get a lovely caramelisation before you flip the meat, and then just finish after the flip. And remember: if the steak is getting thinner, that means the juices are drying out. This is bad news.
Myth 5: Season the steak before it goes in the pan
Seasoning your steak before it hits the heat can lead to the meat drying out. “Salt absorbs liquid,” says Fernando. “Season each side when the meat is in the pan.”
Myth 6: You shouldn’t have sauce with a quality steak
Kind of wrong. While he wouldn’t recommend a heavy, creamy sauce, he does suggest a lighter option. “Chimichurri (a green mix of finely chopped parsley, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and chilli) is a wonderful thing to serve steak with. Other than that, I would just have chips and a mixed salad.”