Fillet steak is very lean and, because it has short fibres, very tender. Ask for a piece cut from the middle of the fillet, not the end. Also, if you want the best cut ensure that the butcher removes the sinewy chain that runs down the side of the chateau briande part of the fillet. A full fillet is about two foot long. It makes for superb finely chopped steak for a stir fry and raw steak tartare. The fillet can also be utilised for beef wellington for that special occasion.
|tenderised fillet steak with peppercorns|
|with a tomato relish, radishes and horseradish sauce|
|with double cream and pepper sauce|
Five things to look for when buying a steak
1. When choosing a steak, sirloin is a fine choice due to its tasty, melt-in-the-mouth succulence. Good sirloin has just the right amount of fat and nice marbling. Rump steak is slightly cheaper than sirloin but it’s still a great steak for griddling or frying, with more flavour than sirloin. However, it does tend to be slightly chewier, especially if it has not been matured properly. Rib eye steaks seem a popular modern choice due to the large proportion of fattiness which helps to make the steak succulent.
2. Age of the steak is important, as the hanging process develops the flavour and tenderises the meat. So ask your butcher how long the beef has been hung for. As a rule, 21 days as a minimum and 35 days as a maximum is a good range to go for.
3. Check the beef has good marbling – little streaks of fat running through the meat. This melts when heated, helping the steak to baste itself from within as it cooks.
5. A good layer of creamy-white fat around the top of sirloin steaks is essential.
Five steps to cooking the perfect steak at home
1. Heat your griddle or frying pan over a high heat, until smoking hot.
2. Lightly brush the steak with a little olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
3. Don’t griddle more than two steaks at a time, and keep them spaced well apart. If you add more than two steaks to the pan at once, the temperature will drop and the steak will stew, rather than fry.
4. Don’t turn the steaks until good seared markings are achieved, then turn them over and cook on the other side (see timings, below).
5. You must let the steak rest for about 3 minutes before serving, to allow the juices that have been drawn to the surface to relax back into the meat.
How long to cook a steak for
These timings are based on cooking a sirloin steak that’s about 2cm thick. (Cooking times will vary depending on the type and thickness of the steak, and how hot your pan is.)
Blue: 1 minute each side
Rare: 1½ minutes each side
Medium rare: 2 minutes each side
Medium: 2¼ minutes each side
Medium-well done: 2½ - 3 minutes each side.
Burnt to buggery. Half an hour on the BBQ.