What's at Steak?

24th March 2017

Laura Chapman, of Sarratt-based pasture-fed Native Beef, shares her secrets for cooking the perfect steak, and recommends a new cut that’s full of flavour…

Cooking steaks can be intimidating. A slow cooked meat dish is quite forgiving, but when it comes to steaks people are often afraid they will ruin them. Given the price of a prime steak that feels like an expensive mistake!

But it really needn’t be that hard. Or that expensive. Have you heard of Denver steaks and Flat Iron steaks? Cut from the blade area (around the shoulder) they tend to be around half the price of traditional English prime steaks, but with excellent eating quality. They were ‘discovered’ by butchers in the US looking for different ways to use the shoulder cuts. They are tender, and packed with flavour. They’re taking off in British restaurants now, and they’re great for home cooking, too.

The Flat Iron is so named because it is cut in the shape of an old fashioned iron. It is well marbled, tender and juicy, and best cooked medium rare to medium. It takes a marinade well, but it isn’t essential: it has enough flavour and a great texture without. I’m no cooking expert…but I do eat a lot of beef, and this method of cooking a Flat Iron steak always works for me.

This technique works for the majority of steaks, in fact. A thick cut fillet might need to be started on a lower heat; a sirloin or ribeye might want to be cooked a little longer to let their wonderful fat melt. The best thing to do is to have a play, and see what techniques yield a steak as you like it. Nothing to be afraid of!

• Take the steak out of the fridge and out of its vacuum pack a good 20 minutes before cooking. This gives the meat fibres a chance to ‘relax’.

• Preheat a griddle pan or BBQ to high heat

• Dry the surface of the beef with a paper towel. Just before you put it in the pan, add some salt and pepper to season.

• Add to the hot griddle or BBQ. Allow the first side to brown, and then turn every couple of minutes for even cooking.

• For a 2cm thick steak it will take about three to three and a half minutes each side to get to medium rare.

• Once the steak is cooked to your preference, remove it from the pan and allow it to sit at room temperature for five to ten minutes before serving. This lets the fibres relax and juices run back into the steak.

• For best results cut into strips across the grain to serve.

• Serve as you like (my favourite is with salad and skinny fries). Flat iron also does well in strips in stir fry or fajitas.

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