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Follow these pirnicples and you’ll create the best slab of beef you’ve had outside of the steakhouse.
Pick the right cut
Some of the juiciest, most flavourful steaks are well marbled, coming from a part of the cow that hasn’t been toughened up by overexertion.
1. Cuts from hard-working muscles, like those from the cow’s shoulder or thigh, contain more connective tissue. Although rich and flavourful, they require more chewing.
2. Weak muscles, like the tenderloin, may be tender, but they also cook up bland due to their lack of fat marbling.
3. The best cut is the rib eye. It has more marbling than tenderloin, but it’s a less-worked muscle than the shoulder or thigh. Ask your butcher for two 2.5cm-thick steaks from between the fifth and tenth bones.
Age your rib eye at home
The ageing process is what separates top-dollar steakhouses from sit-down chains. As beef ages, the longer protein chains within the muscle break down. As ageing creates more of these protein fragments, the meat becomes more tender and flavourful. Most high-end steakhouses age their beef for at least 30 days, but you can tenderize your beef simply by being lazy. Just leave your steaks in their packaging in the refrigerator for five days before cooking. They’ll change colour but won’t go bad. No time? That’s okay. The following cooking method will ensure tenderness.
Cook Your Steak
One secret to a remarkably tender steak is to cook it at a very low temperature. Doing this activates enzymes that soften the meat (don’t worry, it wont’ turn out raw). To achieve the effect, use this low-tech version of a French “sous vide”. So don’t slap your steaks in a pan. Be a mad scientist: throw them gently in water and then sear them quickly to brown.
1. Fill a large pot three quarters full of water and attach a digital thermometer to its inside edge. Adjust your stove’s heat to low or medium low to raise the water temperature to between 50 and 55 degrees Celsius.
2. Do no pre-season the meat. Place each steak inside its own large resealable bag. (Use a BPA-free brand, if possible.) Squeeze out as much air as possible from each bag, then seal. Place the bagged steaks in the water and cook them for30 minutes. Then raise the water temperature to between 60 and 65 degrees Celsius and cook them for another 15 minutes.
3. Remove the bags from the water and transfer the steaks to paper towels to blot excess moisture. (The meat will look grayish pink until it’s seared.) Use a small butane torch to brown the exteriors, or brush the steaks with vegetable oil and sear them in a hot pan for 20 seconds on each side.