COOK THE PERFECT STEAK

Before hitting the barbecue

  • Only buy steaks of even thickness, not ‘wedge shaped’
  • Beef steaks should be at least 21mm thick
  • Lamb cuts should be at least 15mm thick
  • Always defrost in the fridge, if frozen. Pat dry with kitchen paper before cooking.
  • Take the steaks out of the fridge 10 minutes before you cook them. This takes the chill out of the steak allowing it to cook evenly , stopping the meat tightening and becoming tough.
  • If using a pan, it should be heavy-based
  • Season the steaks lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Oil the steak not the barbecue. This stops your steaks sticking and the oil burning on the hotplate.

The three basic essentials

1. Heat the pan, barbecue or grill to moderately hot before you add the steaks. This ensures maximum flavour and tenderness. The steak should sizzle as it makes contact with the heat. Don’t crowd the barbecue as this reduces the heat and the meat will then release juices and begin to stew.

If you’re cooking a thick steak see the tips below.

2. Turn the steaks once only. The more you flip the steak, the tougher it gets. Let the steak cook on one side until moisture appears on top, then turn it.

3. Learn to test when your steaks are done.  Knowing when your steak is ready to be removed from the heat is the key to a perfectly cooked steak. Use either the back of your tongs or fingertip (make sure your hands are clean) and press the centre of the steak. Rare is soft when pressed, medium is springy and well done is very firm.

Always rest the steaks after they come off the heat. This keeps the steaks juicy and tender. Just loosely cover with foil for 2 to 4 minutes before serving.

Hand-y ‘doneness’

Believe it or not, you can actually use your hands to determine how ‘done’ your steaks are. Go to ‘How to tell when your beef steak is done’ page to see how.

A little bit more detail

Whilst you can apply the 3 key principles to cooking any beef, lamb, goat or veal steak, practise makes perfect, so here are a few extra tips for getting the degree of doneness right every time.

RARE

  • Cook for a few minutes per side (depending on thickness)
  • Turn once only
  • Cook until steak feels ‘very soft’ with the back of the tongs
  • Internal temperature approximately 55-60ºC

MEDIUM RARE

  • Cook one side until moisture is visible on top surface
  • Turn once only
  • Cook on second side until moisture is visible on top
  • Cook until steak feels ‘soft’ with back of the tongs
  • Internal temperature approximately 60-65ºC

MEDIUM

  • Cook on one side until moisture is pooling on top surface
  • Turn once only
  • Cook on second side until moisture is visible
  • Cook until steak feels ‘springy’ but soft with the back of the tongs
  • Internal temperature approximately 65-70ºC

MEDIUM WELL DONE

  • Cook on one side until moisture is pooling on top surface
  • Turn and cook on the second side until moisture is pooling on top
  • Reduce heat slightly and continue to cook until steak feels ‘firm’ with the back of the tongs
  • Internal temperature approximately 70ºC

WELL DONE

  • Cook on one side until moisture is pooling on top surface
  • Turn and cook on the second side until moisture is pooling on top
  • Reduce heat slightly and continue to cook until steak feels ‘very firm’ with the back of the tongs

…and don’t forget to rest.

Cooking very thick steaks

  • Brown all sides in a hot pan
  • Slightly reduce heat and cook as required
  • Turn a second time
  • If cooking thicker steaks medium well or well done, you may need to finish them in the oven
  • Test when to take out of the pan by using the back of the tongs or a steak thermometer to measure the temperature in the middle of the steak