Heston’s Perfect Steak

3 Mar

Heston Blumenthal’s trickery can seem a little daunting to try and follow at times. It can be time-consuming and when he’s at his most mischievous, it can seem a little ludicrous to the non-theatrical home cook. In his recent book ‘Heston Blumenthal at Home’ he shows that it’s not all like that at all. In fact, if you can be bothered to read cook books you’ll actually find a lot of simple techniques to help you with everyday cooking. His method of cooking a perfect steak is a case in point. Simple Simple Simple!

Having recently been re-converted to the joys of a good steak. I’ve been trying it out to see if it really makes a difference to my ‘just chuck it in, how difficult can it be?’ technique. Basically, there are a few easy steps, some of which are obvious, others hadn’t crossed my mind before.

  1. Choose quality meat – sirloin, rib-eye or rump (obvious one)
  2. Make sure it’s a couple of cms thick (often been caught out with a thin steak)
  3. Take it out of its packaging and store in the fridge so the air can circulate around it and ‘age’ it for a couple of days (never thought about doing that one)
  4. Salt it both sides to concentrate the flavour and tenderise the meat (always been a bit scared of salt)
  5. Don’t cook it until it’s at room temperature (not always had the patience to do this)
  6. Don’t put pepper on it before cooking as it will burn (used to do this)
  7. Wait until the oil is smoking before you put the steak in (often used to think I’d done something wrong when I saw smoke)
  8. Flip it every 15 seconds for even cooking and a crisp surface
  9. Use your digital thermometer to check the internal temp/readiness and take it out 5 degrees C before the required temperature (45 degrees = bleu, 50 = rare, 55= medium rare 60 = medium). Removing it 5 degrees before the required temperature allows the residual heat to raise it to the ideal heat.
  10. Let the ‘blumen’ thing rest for five minutes to help the fibres relax and enable it to retain its juices. This is best done on a rack apparently.
  11. Eat it

OK well all three cuts of meat have great names but I’ve found that I’ve enjoyed rib-eye the most. I’m not a salt addict so I feel quite comfortable allowing myself the extra here. If the outside of the steak has crisped up properly the temperature check really does work. My digital probe only cost me £1.49 and I use it with fish now too. The ‘ageing’ effect does seem to have an effect. I’d like to think that the steaks I’ve been eating this way do seem juicier and have more in the way of texture than those cooked with my hit and miss strategy. I think the main thing here is that being bothered to follow a simple and logical (every step seems to have a bit of science behind it) procedure has actually improved my eating experience. I’m quite experimental with my cooking but trying out a few of the recipes in this book has made me think about the way I do things. Perhaps I should be understanding more of what the ingredients do together rather than blindly chucking stuff together.

Heston Blumenthal, a down to earth guy with wacky complicated food? At times yes but break down a lot of the individual stages and there is a lot to learn that could easily be applied to simple cooking.

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