The secrets of grilling: How to cook and season the perfect steak

There is an art to cooking a juicy, mouth-watering steak at home, and it goes well beyond throwing any old slab of beef on the barbecue. Meat master and BLACK Bar & Grill executive chef Dany Karam shares his secrets for achieving restaurant-quality steak every time.

Choose your steak

Whether you prefer a flavour-packed rump steak, a succulent wagyu sirloin or a light and tender fillet,make sure you’re getting a quality cut from your local butcher.

Some cuts taste better on the rarer side while others are best served medium-rare to medium. Your butcher will be able to advise you where the meat was sourced, whether it was grain or grass-fed and how it should be cooked. 

If you’re a beginner and don’t have a preference, you might want to stick to cuts with a bit of fat on them, such as a sirloin or scotch fillet. Leaner cuts, like an eye fillet, are easy to overcook and will go tough and dry due to their lower fat content.

Before you start

Take the steak out of the fridge at least half an hour to an hour before you intend to cook it and bring it to room temperature. This allows the muscles to relax and will ensure the steak cooks through evenly.

Make sure your barbecue, grill or pan is piping hot. Cooking your steak in a warm pan will cause it to stew. The same goes for overcrowding the pan – steaks need to be cooked on a roomy surface or the temperature will drop, so don’t try to throw too many on at once or you will end up with grey, rubbery meat.

When it comes to seasoning, keep it simple and let the flavour of the meat shine through. Give your steak a generous pinch of quality salt, such as Murray River Pink Salt right before cooking. This will help with the caramelisation and creating that delicious crust. You could also add cracked pepper.

Cooking your steak

Once your surface is hot, sear the steak on one side for a minute or so to seal in the flavour and create a brown crust, and then flip it to the other side. Don’t be tempted to sear it for too long on one side or it won’t cook evenly.

After searing the steak on both sides, move it to a slightly lower heat and continue to flip it every minute. This is to prevent the heat from pushing the juice out of the other side and allow the inside to cook without scorching the crust.

How long you cook the steak for will depend on the thickness and cut and whether you prefer the meat rare, medium-rare, medium or well done. Knowing when your steak is ‘done’ takes practice – seasoned chefs should be able to feel when the meat is perfectly cooked.

Why you should rest your steak

Once your steak is cooked to your liking, take it off the heat and let it rest for about five minutes. This allows the muscles to relax, and the juices to redistribute through the meat, evening out the flavour. It should also ensure juices don’t run out onto your plate when you cut into the meat.

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