Why is a good steak so hard to cook at home? Why does it always end up cooked to a rubbery bit of old shoe leather at one extreme or a bloody mess at the other? I still don’t know, but I am slowly learning a few little tricks.
It’s taken me lots of years of practice to get a consistently passable result. I first started cooking steak regularly in the early days of Mr D.’s and my relationship. He would really appreciate my cooking when he came over to my place, and I liked to try and impress him (or not) with my try-hard culinary skills. Around once a week or so, I would cook Mr D. a steak dinner. Every time I cooked it, my little apartment would fill with smoke and we’d have to open all the windows for half an hour to let it clear (which was a bit tough in winter in Canberra). I’m sure the neighbours were far from impressed with the smoke alarm always being set off by my cooking. Anyway, I later discovered a little tip about oiling the meat, not the pan, so these days there is far less smoke.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire of course. Not so long ago, I made my usual steak dinner dish for Mr D. and I – including deglazing the pan with balsamic vinegar and then cooking some sliced onions in it. Whoosh, went the vinegar when I poured it into the hot, hot pan. An alarmingly large flame shot up. It scared the living daylights out of Mr D., who thought I was about to burn our kitchen down. Another little tip – take the pan off the heat first before you add flammable liquid. After that little incident, Mr D. always makes sure he knows where the fire extinguisher is kept. J
Have you ever wondered how some steaks get that lovely crust on the outside, while staying tender and juicy on the inside? Another trick I learned from watching all those cooking shows on TV – season the steak well with salt and pepper first (no oil), then cook in a hot non-stick frypan (no oil).
It’s really all about the meat itself, I’ve discovered after a bit of trial and error. My favourite – a nice bit of lean rump. And accompaniments? Good steak just has to be served with crisp fries, I reckon – just like the French do. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry on my first grown-up holiday to France a few years ago with Mr D. After fantasising about all the wonderful French food I would eat, I discovered the national dish was steak and chips (or at least in the el cheapo bistros which were generally all we could afford to eat in at the time).
So tell me, do you like to cook a good steak at home? Or will you die trying?