7 mistakes you're making when cooking steak - and how to fix them
Turning your meat with a fork or salting it well before cooking could wreck a great steak. Here's how to remedy these and other common mistakes
1. STEERING CLEAR OF FAT
Buy well-aged, vacuum-packed steak which has got some fat because this is what makes it so flavoursome and juicy; Rib eye has a good marbling of fat which makes it melt-in-the-mouth tender.
Other good cuts to look out for are T bone, sirloin, rump and fillet. Try out the a Brazilian picana cut, the eye of the rump, which is now available in South Africa - it's really juicy and delicious.
2. FREEZING YOUR MEAT
It’s preferable not to freeze steak as it toughens the meat. It's best to use vacuum-packed steak on the day of purchase or to store it in the fridge for a couple of days.
3. COOKING STEAK STRAIGHT FROM THE FRIDGE
Remove the steak from the fridge 1- 2 hours before cooking to bring it back to room temperature. Open the vacuum pack 30 minutes before cooking, remove the meat and place it on a baking tray.
4. SALTING YOUR STEAK BEFORE COOKING IT
Don’t salt the meat well in advance of cooking as this draws out the flavoursome juices. Instead rub it with chopped garlic, some finely grated lemon zest (optional) , freshly chopped herbs like rosemary, thyme or oreganum, olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. Allow to marinate for 15 -30 minutes before cooking.
Just before cooking, season the steak with salt.
5. FRYING IT IN A NON-STICK PAN
Don’t cook steak in a non-stick frying pan as the meat doesn’t brown properly. Use a heavy-based frying pan instead.
Griddle pans are particularly good and leave appetising score marks on the meat. Preheat the pan till smoking hot, yes smoking hot, and don’t add any oil to the pan because the meat should have been oiled beforehand (see point 4).
6. OVERCOOKING IT
Follow these guidelines for a perfectly cooked steak: 5 minutes per side for a medium steak, 2- 3 minutes for medium rare and 6-7 minutes for more well done.
If you're cooking the steak on the braai ensure it’s the last thing cooked and that the coals are chalky grey in colour which means they are red hot inside.
7. TURNING IT WITH A FORK
Never use a fork to turn your steak while its cooking; piercing the meat will result in the loss of all those flavoursome juices. Tongs are your best bet.