Queen’s former chef shares secret to cooking the perfect steak – key is ‘preparing’

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Steak is a versatile piece of meat that can be cooked in a variety of different ways including rare, medium and well done. Whatever the preference, it can be hard to master the perfect steak. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Jeff Baker, Executive Development Chef at Farmison & Co, shared his top tips on cooking the meat.

The cut of steak is entirely down to preference and depends on things like budget and texture.

Well-known cuts include fillet, sirloin, rump and ribeye.

Fillet is the most tender but also most expensive cut of beef due to it having very little fat in it.

While they all take different times to cook, Jeff, who has cooked for the Queen, has shared top tips to make sure it tastes delicious.

He explained: “Prepare in advance all the tools you need for the job, a heavy-based skillet or frying pan is my preferred choice when cooking indoors, a good pair of tongs or spatula, a wire rack for resting and a spoon for basting.”

The expert first recommends bringing your meat to room temperature.

He said: “This enables the steak to cook more evenly and helps create a rich, unami packed exterior.”

When it comes to cooking the meat, Jeff explained: “For leaner steaks, apply the fat or oil directly onto the meat and not to the pan.

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“Season the steak liberally with salt just before cooking.

“Sear over high heat on all sides before reducing heat to continue cooking.

“Always rest the steak for at least half the cooking time, this allows the meat to rest pre-slicing, so that the natural juices stay in the steak.

“If pan frying or cooking in a griddle pan, finish with a knob of butter and baste the steak, and always carve against the grain.”

Although it seems fairly simple, cooking steak can often go wrong and end up becoming chewy.

Jeff also shared things you should never do when it comes to cooking the piece of meat.

He explained: “Never cook a steak from frozen or even fridge temperature, it reduces the tenderness. 

“Also don’t salt the steak until you’re ready to cook as salt will draw out moisture so make sure you season as you cook.”

Top tips also include making sure the pan has fully heated up before adding the piece of meat as well as using tongs to turn the steak and avoid using a fork.

This is because a fork can pierce the meat, losing tasty juices.

Jeff added: “Don’t move your steak too often, wait until you get a good sear before turning, as each time you move the steak the temperature is dropping, affecting the Maillard reaction to the surface of the steak.”

The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned foods its distinctive flavour.”

The expert went on: “Don’t cut the meat with the grain as it will eat tough and chewy, try to look at the grains and cut across them to maximise tenderness.”

The grain of a steak refers to the muscle fibres within the piece of meat. 

You can tell the grain of the meat by looking at what direction lines move across the piece of meat.

There are many ways you can eat steak including blue, rare, medium-rare, medium and well-done.

While this is all down again to personal preference, Jeff explained that blue steak should still be a dark colour, almost purple and just warm.

He said: “It will feel spongy with no resistance.”

Rare steak will be red in colour with some juice flowing, and according to the expert, it will feel soft and spongy with slight resistance.

Medium-rare is one of the most popular ways to cook steak as it is more pink in colour but still just as tasty.

Jeff added: “Medium steak is pale pink in the middle with hardly any juice flowing, it will feel firm and springy.

“Well-done is only a trace of pink colour but not dry, it will feel spongy and soft and slightly springy.”

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