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How to Cook Steak to Perfection, Every Time

If you are on a meat-free diet, look away!

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a day at L’Atelier des Chefs near St Paul’s Cathedral, cooking up some lesser known steak cuts such as Flat Iron, Picanha and Bistro. I probably got ten times my Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein on that day and I enjoyed every mouthful!

As I arrived at the cookery school, I was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of familiar faces, Helen from ‘Fuss Free Flavours’ and Nova, the lovely lady behind ‘Cherished by Me’.

The day started with a quick intro from Martin, who knows a thing or two about cutting meat. He told us about seam butchery, a cutting method based on limiting waste and improving the quality of the meat.

How to Cook Steak to Perfection, Every Time - Seam Butchery

British butchery normally uses the bone structure to define cuts, which generally contain more than one muscle. The difference with seam butchery is that the butcher cuts long the natural seams between the muscles.

What is good value when it comes to steak?

A big piece of meat at a cheaper price is not necessarily better value than a smaller piece that has been highly trimmed, with silver skin, membrane, fat, muscle, etc. removed, so always check the quality of the meat first rather than the weight of the piece of meat you are considering buying.

With seam butchery, a lot more fat, gristle and connective tissue can be removed, which lead to better eating quality.  Cuts are well-trimmed and lean, with consistent flavour and texture. Flat Iron, Picanha and Bistro are seam butchered cuts. My favourite was Bistro and I will certainly have it again as it is similar to fillet, at a fraction of the price.

How to Cook Steak to Perfection, Every Time - Bistro Being Cut

A Cooking Challenge

After learning all about seam butchery, we were given a cooking challenge: we would each cook two pieces of beef. I went for my favourite two, Flat Iron and Bistro.

How to Cook Steak to Perfection, Every Time - Making Smoked Saffron Butter

Before I cooked the steak, I made smoked paprika butter to add a bit of an edge to my steak. It is really simple to make. Simply mix together 100g butter at room temperature, 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, ½ tablespoon smoked paprika, ½ red chilli, chopped finely, 1 garlic clove, minced and season to taste. Roll like a sausage in baking paper and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

How to Cook Steak to Perfection, Every Time - Smoked Saffron Butter

Tips for Cooking Steak to Perfection Every Time:

  • Know your steak. Different cuts will require different cooking methods. Some steaks (flat iron, Picanha, Denver) are best cooked up to medium rare. Some lend themselves well to grilling (flat iron), others will taste better on the barbecue (bone-in sirloin) or marinated (flat iron).
  • Before cooking, unwrap the meat, blot excess moisture with kitchen towel and brush with rapeseed oil (not olive oil). Season to taste and leave to rest for at least 15 minutes.
  • Heat the pan over a high heat, and when it is really hot, place the meat on the pan. Cook to preference over a high heat – times will vary depending on the cut and size of the steak (rare: 2 to 2 ½ minutes on each side, medium: 3-5 minutes on each side, well done: 5-7 minutes on each side).
  • Always leave the meat to rest before serving, because it will keep cooking after you have taken it off the heat. The best way to do that is to place your meat on a warm plate and cover the plate tightly with foil. As a rule of thumb, you should leave the meat to rest for the same amount of time as it took you to cook it. That should give you enough time to get the side dishes and vegetables ready.

How to Cook Steak to Perfection, Every Time - Bistro

Bon appétit!

How to Cook Steak to Perfection, Every Time - Lunch


“Information about The Quality Standard Mark Scheme

  • The Quality Standard Mark Scheme for beef and lamb was launched to help consumers identify quality meat at point of purchase
  • AHDB Beef & Lamb is the organisation for beef and lamb levy payers in England and is a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board
  • All beef and lamb carrying the mark is chosen according to a strict selection process to ensure that it is consistently succulent and tender. This is achieved by excluding older animals, which often give tougher meat, from the Quality Standard scheme. Additional standards that specify how long the meat should be matured are also included to enhance eating quality
  • The Quality Standard label also guarantees the provenance of the meat you are buying
  • The flag on the logo identifies the country of origin, so if it carries the Union Flag you know it comes from a UK farm and if it carries the St George’s flag it comes specifically from an English farm
  • To ensure your recipes are a culinary success, always remember to make sure your beef and lamb is quality assured. The Quality Standard Mark is one way for you to be sure that the beef or lamb is quality assured and responsibly produced by people dedicated to producing great food
  • The Quality Standard label can be found on pack in some supermarkets and is visible in independent butchers

For everything you need to know about beef and lamb, recipe ideas and information about the Quality Standard Scheme, please visit www.simplybeefandlamb.co.uk


Disclosure: I was compensated to attend the event but all opinions and photos are my own.

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  1. 22/03/2016 / 11:55 pm

    I’d never heard of seam butchery before and I’m going to have to try and get some of those cuts of steak and try them – the photos are definitely making my mouth water! 🙂

    • Mel
      23/03/2016 / 10:26 pm

      Picanha and Bistro were my favourite cuts: the steak melted in my mouth! I would definitely recommend trying to find those cuts. xx

  2. 25/03/2016 / 2:24 pm

    I’ve not tried any of those cuts before, I feel like I’m missing out! I’m terrible at remember to rest my meat for long enough, I’m usually running behind at dinner time so end up trying to get it all on to the table as quickly as possible, I need to get myself more organised!

    • Mel
      03/04/2016 / 5:11 pm

      The only reason I remember to rest the meat is because I cook the veg once the meat is done cooking. No resting would mean no veg!

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