Let's Eat

Man in the kitchen: not burnt at the steak


I know quite a few people (OK most of them men) who whenever they see steak and chips on a restaurant menu, just cannot help but order it.

Steak and chips is delicious, of course. But why would you pay more than £20 for something you can make just as well at home for a fraction of the price? There is a little skill which goes into the sauces, but the steak itself? You just slap it in the pan until it’s done.

Well, there is a little bit more to it but not much. The first and most important thing is to buy a decent steak — not even Heston himself could make a nasty tough cut into something succulent and tender. Here, the kosher cook starts off with a disadvantage. Two of the tenderest steaks are fillet and sirloin which are hindquarter cuts and not available as kosher in the UK. Rib and rib-eye steaks are kosher and perfect medium-rare but the salting process which removes the blood from the meat also draws away moisture so the meat tends not to be as juicy.

Basically, what you need to do is beg your butcher for his tenderest rib steak. The longer it has been aged the better it will be. Then you need a heavy-based ridged pan. Place it on the highest heat for as long as you dare — when a mirage effect appears behind the stove, you know you are getting close. Then oil the steak (not the pan) and slap it in. Kosher beef will need little or no salt due to the salting process. For a steak an inch thick, cook on one side for a minute, then turn it over. Cook for one more minute then turn it over at 90 degrees so that you get those pretty square char lines on the meat.

At this point you will need to rush out of the kitchen to turn off the smoke alarm. By the time you return a minute later, turn the meat one more time so that you will have cooked it for four minutes in total. Now remove from the heat and rest for five minutes (the meat, not you).

All that remains is to open a nice bottle of red, arrange a few salad leaves artfully around the plate, toast a little ciabatta, and serve with a dollop of Dijon mustard. The steak will be perfectly medium rare, there will be little washing up and here’s the best bit — no optional 15 per cent service charge!

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