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ShortList’s guide to cooking the perfect steak



As the chef at The Rib Room, Ewart Wardhaugh knows a thing or two about steak. Here, he tells us what to look for and how it should be cooked…

The quality of cut is hugely important
There are many different breeds and brands of beef, from many different countries, and not all of them are good. The grading system does a great job of standardising the quality level, which obviously dictates the price, and in my opinion, you almost always get what you pay for. The quality between choice and prime makes a big difference to s person who knows their beef. Again, there’s a difference between prime and Wagyu – although prime is good quality, Wagyu is definitely a better product. The quality is dictated by the marbling of the steak, which in turn is mainly dictated by the feed and conditions that the cow in reared in, along with the length of ageing the product.

You should never overcook a good quality steak
If you have a good quality steak, rare to medium rare is the best way to cook it to fully appreciate the taste and texture of the meat. When I’m asked to cook a steak well done… unfortunately I cannot put the feelings into words that could be published. It is just such a shame to destroy a prime piece of protein like that. It’s like buying a beautiful fresh French baguette, leaving it on the kitchen counter for a couple of days and then trying to eat it.

Resting your steak is really important
Just as cooking for the right time matters, resting the steak during and after cooking is equality important to the process. It allows the proteins to relax correctly which means a more tender steak.

I’d recommend…
My favourite steak is a 500g perfectly cooked, well-seasoned, nicely charred, medium rare, South Australian Wagyu 5+. Either rib-rye or striploin.

7 steps to cooking the best steak of your life

  • Rub with a little olive oil and season well all over with sea salt & freshly milled black pepper.
  • Make sure your char-grill (preferably wood fired) is at a high temperature, take your steak and place on the grill to char one side. Let it be once you have placed it on the grill, do not play with it. If you keep playing with it the air gets between the grill and the steak, effectively diluting the charring process.
  • Once nicely charred on one side, flip it over and repeat the process on the other side, followed by grilling the edges. This should take about 7-9 minutes, depending on the weight.
  • Once the char-grilling has been completed, remove from the grill and allow to rest on a wire rack for 5-6 minutes.
  • Find a cooler part of the grill (closer to the edge) and place the steak back on the grill to cook again, for 2-4 minutes on one side, followed by another 2-4 minutes on the other side.
  • At this point, check how much it’s cooked. It should now be at the rare stage. Remove from the grill and rest for a further 6-7 minutes.
  • To serve, one final time, place back on the hot part of the grill and give it one final char on both sides to finalise the caramelisation of the meat after the resting period. The steak should now have reached the medium rare stage to serve. Enjoy!
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