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Culinary tips: How to cook the perfect steak

So, you’ve bought some expensive cuts of steak and now you want to impress your guests, your loved ones, or just enjoy the meat the way you like it.

But where to begin? Let us help, with a handy guide.

In the industry, the way a steak is prepared is known as the ‘colour’. At home, you could call it the level of ‘doneness’.

Before you cook your steak, take it out of the fridge, and allow it to come up to room temperature about an hour before cooking. Simply put, frying or grilling it from cold will stop the heat from penetrating to the middle as efficiently. You also need to make sure your pan, griddle or barbecue is very hot before you begin – this will help caramelise the meat, essential for a delicious crust.

Simplicity is key – rub it with salt and pepper, and a little olive oil if you wish.

Most decent chefs recommend turning it every minute or so (unless you’re going for blue rare) to ensure even cooking.

There are six basic ways of preparing steak, many of which cause much argument in both the kitchen and at the dinner table. You can determine the steak’s level of cooking by touching or squeezing it, by sight, by colour, or by time. Choose which works best for you!

Blue Rare

A blue rare steak will usually take about 30 seconds on each side, will remain cold in the middle, and be firm as the protein has just begun to coagulate and tighten. You’ll be hard pressed inm many kitchens to find a steak prepared this way, with increasing heath and safety laws tightening up how long a steak must be prepared for, to avoid food poisoning. Surprisingly, in Texas, restaurants aren’t allowed to serve a steak cooked less than medium.

A rare steak will be very spongy and have almost no resistance, and be warm in the middle. No juice will be visible at this stage.

Medium Rare
Take your steak medium rare, and you should begin to see visual changes to the steak. Blood will start to come out of it, and when pressed there will be some resistance.


Medium steaks should see the blood starting to pool on top of the steak, and it will feel slightly firm and springy. The miiddle should be a rosy pink.

Medium Well

Medium well done steaks have very little pink in the middle, and will be firm and springy.

Well Done

A well-done steak has no redness in it, and it’s quite firm and springs back quickly when you press it.

Remember to leave a steak to rest for at least a minute or two after cooking. Top Chef Heston Blumenthal recommends leaving it for even longer. This greatly enhances the flavour, allowing the juices to seep back into the meat, providing more flavour. Another top tip – put a knob of butter on the steak while it rests for a superb flavour.

A good trick is to use the palm of your hand to determine doneness. Although rarely used by professional chefs, they are taught this skill in training to familiarise themselves with how a steak should feel.

Slice to serve, and pour the resting juices back over the meat.

Here, Gordon Ramsay pan-fries a steak – although he recommends not turning it frequently – and checks the colour using the palm method.

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