Have you watched reality programmes and the thought of someone criticizing your dish sends up chills up your spine. Via TV’s ‘Kom ons braai’ has seen many a host grinding his teeth when his guests have something to say about the meat he had prepared.
Well, the summer holiday is here and South Africans love to braai.
We visited Frank’s Meat to learn how to prepare and braai the perfect steak. Earlier this year this very popular butchery took top honours at the Cleaver Awards. They won Platinum for butcheries with three or fewer till points.
We popped in and got some good advice.
Firstly did you know the temperature at the centre of a piece of meat gives an accurate indication of the extent to which it’s cooked but there are other methods that dispense with the need for a meat thermometer. One is timing; the other is the touch test.
Here’s how it works.
Hold out your non-dominant hand, palm up and relaxed. With the index finger of the other, gently prod the fleshy area between your thumb and the base of your palm. There is very little resistance. This is what raw meat feels like.
Now make a circle with that thumb and its index finger. The muscle at the base of the thumb tenses up slightly. This is what rare meat feels like.
As you repeat this process with the middle, ring and little finger, the muscle below the thumb tenses further each time. Miraculously, the feel of that muscle corresponds to the feel of a steak at its further stages of cooking: medium/rare, medium and finally well done.
So if you touch the steak as it cooks, and compare it with the feel of your other hand, you’ll know exactly when to stop cooking it.
We are taking a closer look at the degree of doneness of steaks.
Sear the steak for one minute either side in a hot pan and for a few seconds on each of the outer edges using tongs. All but the outside of the steak will look raw. If you use a meat thermometer, the steak’s internal temperature will be less than 29˚C.
Gently press the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb. The flesh beneath your thumb will give quite a bit when prodded. This is what a rare steak feels like. To achieve this, sear the steak on both sides for 2½ minutes and using tongs; sear the narrow outer edges for 10 seconds each. The inner two-thirds of the steak will remain blood-red. The internal temperature is between 30˚ and 51˚C.
Lightly press the tip of your middle finger to the tip of your thumb. Notice how the flesh beneath your thumb feels a little firmer. This is what a medium rare steak feels like. Sear the steak on both sides for 3½ minutes. When cut, the steak will range from brown on the outside to pink and moist with a narrow, blood-red centre. Here we are looking at between 57˚ and 63˚C.
Bring together the tip of your ring finger and thumb and the flesh beneath your thumb starts to feel firm. This is what a medium steak feels like.
Sear the steak for four minutes on each side. Only the inner 25 per cent of the steak will remain pink and moist. The internal temperature here should read between 63˚ and 68˚C.
For medium well-done, cook for 5 minutes each side. Here the internal temperature will be between 72˚-77˚C.
Placing your little finger and thumb together, the flesh beneath your thumb will become decidedly firm. This corresponds to the feel of a well-done steak.
Sear the meat for six minutes each side. It will appear dark on the outside and evenly cooked to a light grey-brown colour throughout and have a dry texture. The internal temperature will be more than 77˚C.
Let your steak reach room temperature. Pat your steak dry with paper towels and allow it to come to room temperature during the seasoning process. A steak that has come to room temperature will cook more evenly. You won’t have a hot exterior and a chilly interior. Second, the steak will cook quicker. This means less time on the grill, or the frying pan, or in the oven, and more time spent sipping wine.
A lot of people will tell you that a great steak needs no more flavor than a kiss of flame and a pinch of salt. The truth is that for any steak, whether a great cut or an inexpensive chunk of beef, the right seasoning is key to getting something spectacular.
Experiment and make your own seasoning. We just love this combination: 2 tablespoons crushed black pepper, 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 tablespoon granulated garlic, 1 tablespoon granulated onion, 1 tablespoon crushed coriander, 1 tablespoon dill and 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes. Rub it in and let it rest a few minutes before you put it on the braai.
For more exciting cuts and advice visit Frank’s Meat at 23A Walter Sisulu Street or in Middelburg Mall, 35B Dolerite Crescent, Shop 7 @retailcity.