Bob Harts recipe for the Perfect Steak
THE PERFECT STEAK
Once it was the holy grail of barbecue. But now?
As our butchers take their noble profession more seriously, and as we learn of the vast differences between the meat a good butcher can provide and the toxic dross most supermarkets are happy for us to ingest, the game has changed.
Producing the perfect barbecued steak in your own backyard for your own family and guests is easily achievable these days – provided you follow a few basic rules. And yes, I do mean PERFECT!
The first thing to get right is the steak: buy cheap meat from an even cheaper establishment and you can absolutely guarantee mediocrity. So start by seeking out a prime cut of beef – rib-eye on the bone, perhaps, or scotch fillet off the bone. Dry-aged, thickly cut, dark and aromatic meat is what you are looking for. It will deliver the goods provided you treat it with respect, and follow some basic rules.
First, ensure you have a hot, clean, covered barbecue, fired with gas or charcoal. And that it is fitted with a cast-iron grill, NEVER a hotplate (which is a fiendish device used only by dingbats and desperates). And that it is covered with a lid you can keep lowered throughout the cooking process. Now, let’s get started…
First, pre-salt your steak. Use only pure, crystalised sea salt (I use Maldon) – NEVER table salt; do this three hours before you plan to cook the steak. Return the steak to the fridge until an hour before cook time.
Then, before you cook the steak and after it has returned to room temperature, oil it with a touch of EV olive oil and sprinkle with a simple rub. For this, try pounding ½ tbs black peppercorns with ½ tbs fresh rosemary needles and a pinch of chilli flakes in a mortar and pestle, and sprinkle over both sides of the steak.
Now, bring your covered, clean and oiled grill up to 220-250 C, or a touch more if you like. Then, the timing is up to you but, to test the method so that you can adjust it to your taste later, place your seasoned steak – let’s say a 550-650g rib-eye on the bone – on the grill at 45 degrees to the grill bars and drop the lid. This time, try a cook-time of 12 minutes – four bursts of 3 minutes – which should deliver a rare-side-of-medium-rare steak, my preference. You can adjust this approach to your preference, however, simply by adjusting the 3-minute bursts so that you adjust the done-ness evenly: 4 bursts of 3 min 30sec, for example, for medium-side-of-medium-rare.
To complete the exercise, lift the steak off the grill, place on a warm rack and loosely tent with foil while it rests in a warm (not hot!) place.
And now, the pay-off: chances are you about to consume – or to share, as there is plenty here for two diners – the best steak you have ever eaten in your life.
And guess who cooked it?