It doesn’t matter how extensive your BBQ skills are, if you’re unable to cook a beef steak well, your credentials behind the grill will be seriously questioned. It’s like a chef not being able to make tomato soup.
Being the laid-back, mellow country we are, we’re often satisfied with the ‘chuck it on, flip, flip, flip, flip, until black on outside and brown on the inside’ cooking method. We accept that mouthfuls are to be ferociously chewed for two minutes at a time, and are used to hearing that the ‘meat is a bit tough.’
Well, we shall rip and chew like dogs no longer because cooking the perfect steak that we’re always hearing about – able to be sliced with a butter knife and melts in the mouth – is surprisingly easy. The first step is buying the right cuts of meat.
A cow to be butchered is divided into primal cuts, which are then cut further into steaks. Depending on their location on the beast, some cuts are tender, some are flavoursome, and some are tough. Cuts taken from the neck and legs, such as chuck steak, brisket and the shank, are generally cooked in stews, soups and casseroles due to their toughness and large amounts of connective tissue. These are what we don’t want.
We’re looking for the most tender cuts for our perfect barbecued steak. They are generally taken from the parts of the animal furthest from the hoof and horn, in the areas known as the striploin and tenderloin primal cuts. It is from here that we get our sirloin, T-bone, porterhouse and fillet steaks. Reasonably tender cuts can also be found in the rib and rump area. Buy the most tender you can afford and that are about 2-3 centimetres thick.
How to Cook it!
Step 1: Preparation
1. Allow your steaks to reach room temperature by taking them out of the fridge 2 – 3 hours prior to cooking. This will result in a better sear and a nice, outer crust.
2. Preheat the grill section of your BBQ to high temperature, or 250 – 300°C.
3. Brush or rub oil into the steaks to create a better sear and prevent them from sticking to the grill. DO NOT oil the BBQ itself or it will burn and create flare-ups.
4. Lightly season the steaks with salt and pepper just prior to cooking. Seasoning too early will draw moisture and flavour out of the meat.
Step 2: Cooking
1. Place the steak on the grill at a 45-degree angle to the bars.
3. After another 1-1½ minutes, flip the steak and repeat Steps 1 & 2. Only flip your steaks once to prevent drying out.
4. Test whether the steak is cooked to your taste. Learning this skill is the key to cooking the perfect steak and it may take a bit of practise. The best way to test is to press the centre of the steak with your fingers or a spatula. Rare will feel soft; medium will be springy and well done will be firm.
5. Rest the steaks on a plate in a loose, al-foil tent for about 5 minutes. This will allow the meat to relax and the juices to distribute evenly throughout, making for a more tender and succulent steak. Note that the steaks will cook further during this resting period, so don’t worry if they’re a little rare coming off the barbie.
Step 3: Eat!
Give the grill a quick scrape while it’s hot to prevent any oils and fats from becoming congealed on the surface.
- Add any extras. If cooked to perfection, you’ll probably find that your steak is flavoursome and moist enough on its own without needing to add sauces and spices. By all means though, add whatever is going to make your enjoy your meal the most.
- Enjoy your soft, succulent, delicious, melt-in-the-mouth steak!
Easy right? Stay tuned for more posts on how to buy and cook heaps of other delicious cuts of meat on your BBQ.
What do you think? Did this method work for you? Do you have your own method for cooking the perfect steak? Let us know by leaving comments below.