Steak is one of the true pleasures in life! Everyone has their favourite cut and their preferred way of eating it but it’s a little disheartening when you cut into a beautiful steak to find it isn’t cooked how you had hoped. For today’s tip I want to share a few simple methods to help you cook your steaks to perfection every time!
Cook to an internal temperature
So we’ve all been to a restaurant with friends and family, everyone orders up a steak to their preferred level of doneness but when they arrive they’re maybe not quite how you would have liked. Your idea of a medium steak may not be the same as the chef’s and sometimes even two medium steaks cooked by the same chef can be a little different.
You’ve maybe experienced the same problems at home on your BBQ. You can work off guide times on each side to achieve the results you want but there are too many variables for this to be reliable every time. Your BBQ may be a little hotter, the steaks may be thicker or you may be using different cuts so the same rules can’t apply each time.
The simplest way to make sure your steaks are coming off the BBQ perfect every time is by reading the internal temperature and pulling them off the grill when they hit a specific temperature. It doesn’t matter if your steak is 1 inch thick or 2 inches thick, the internal temp will remain the same for your desired level of doneness.
So here are some guide temperatures for you to hit the next time you cook a steak on your BBQ.
Rare 45C – 50C
Medium Rare 55C – 60C
Medium 60C – 65C
Medium Well 65C – 70C
Well Done 70C +
Hitting these temperature ranges will allow you to achieve consistent results every time. Now for thicker steaks, it can be a little bit more difficult to get an even doneness all the way through. On a direct heat, the outer layers of your thick steak will be overcooked by the time the middle hits the desired temperature. To get around this, you can use a method called the reverse sear.
The Reverse Sear
You may have seen traditional chef searing cuts of beef in a hot pan before placing it in the oven to finish off. The reverse sear, as the name suggests, is the opposite to this method. You bring the internal temperature of your meat up slowly by cooking it indirect (opposite the coals) until the internal temperature is a few degrees below your desired final temperature. You then ramp up the heat inside your BBQ and sear it on all sides to give you a nice golden crust.
When you cook your thick steaks this way, you will achieve a more even doneness all the way through. I like to rest my steaks a little after the indirect portion of the cook to allow the carry over process to finish. The internal temperature will drop a little so you can be sure it will not overcook during the sear.
The reverse sear isn’t necessary for steaks that are less than 1 inch thick as they should cook quickly over a high direct heat but for thicker steaks, this is a great method to use.
To achieve a golden crust on the outside of your steak whilst keeping the centre soft and juicy, you want a very high heat. I was introduced to one particular method to sear a steak by Marcus Bawdon from Country Wood Smoke. I wasn’t a believer at first but now I’m in love with this way to cook steaks……. It’s time to talk dirty!!
Now before you get carried away, I’m not talking about throwing all food hygiene rules out the window, I’m talking about cooking your steak directly on the charcoal – No cooking grates, no griddles, no foil – just meat and red hot embers!
“But won’t my steak be covered in ash?” I hear you ask and to be honest, I said the very same thing but trust me, if you are using good quality Lumpwood charcoal you won’t have a problem with ash or bits.
Build up a bed of Lumpwood charcoal and make sure they are red hot. Before placing your steaks onto the coals, blow of any ash that is on the surface then place the steaks on top. Sizzling will ensue and the smells will make you hungrier by the second.
There will be flames as the fat renders from your steak but don’t panic. As the steak is sitting directly on the coals, the flames simply roll around the outside of the steak. After a few minutes, turn your steak over. You may get one or two little coals sticking to the steak but you can remove them easily with your tongs.
When all is said and done, you are left with a steak that has one of the nicest, caramelised crusts on the outside and as it has sealed quickly, it remains tender and juicy on the inside. I have truly never tasted steak like it and I would recommend giving it a try.
Here is the video from Marcus on the Country Wood Smoke YouTube channel
Good quality steaks cooked over fire in your backyard are one of the joys of BBQ. Knowing what internal temperature to aim for will take the guess work out of knowing when your steak is ready and by adjusting your cooking method for different cuts, you can achieve consistent results every time.