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How to cook the perfect steak
A good steak is every carnivore’s dream. Let’s take the as an example: only meat, salt and a thread of oil. That’s why the quality of meat is absolutely paramount and will make the difference upon tasting.
Buying a prime-quality steak means that you already off to a good start. Now you only need to cook it, but how? There are as many as seven degrees of steak doneness with different timing and temperatures.
The 7 degrees of steak doneness
Extra rare or Bleu
The meat is brown on the outside, but raw on the inside. It is only seared one minute per side. You will encounter two difficulties when you sear steak this way: temperature and blood leakage. They both depend on the steak thickness.
As far as temperature is concerned, there is nothing worse than biting on a cold steak. Even if the inside of the steak is supposed to be raw, it should still be warm, at least at 45 °C. How do you do that? The grill should already be very hot, when you put the steak on it; by doing so, the outside of the steak will “seal” in the juices and the centre of the steak will reach the right temperature rather quickly.
Seeing blood on a plate is unacceptable. Never serve a steak oozing out liquids. Once again, a very hot pan is the key to success. Flipping the steak after one minute is not enough to cook it, but one minute is enough to form an outside crust that seals the meat juices in and does not let anything ooze out.
Finally, the steak should rest, so that liquids redistribute through the meat and are not released upon cutting.
The steak should cook exactly 2 minutes per side, the inside temperature should reach 50 °C. The steak should be pink on the inside and well-seared.
That’s the ideal degree of steak doneness for a Florentine steak, because it allows you to properly taste the real flavour of the meat.
The Florentine steak, which is at least four fingers thick and weighs one kilo, must be cooked to rare.
It is very easy to get it wrong; if you are unsure, try the touch test; later on in the article, we will see how that works.
55° C in the centre and 2 minutes and a half per side. It is a compromise: it is neither well-cooked, nor too pink on the inside. Cooking to medium rare means eating a juicy and tender meat without the consistency of raw meat. It is perhaps the most complex degree of steak doneness to achieve.
6 minutes overall, turning the steak over after 3 minutes. The steak is only pink in the centre and reaches a temperature of 62 °C.
We do not recommend cooking a very lean meat beyond the medium degree, since it may end up drying out. However, if marbling - i.e. the percentage of fat in the meat - allows it, you may leave the meat on the grill a little longer.
Medium – well
3 minutes and a half per side; inside temperature around 63-64 °C. The meat is almost thoroughly cooked, but the centre is still pink. It is very difficult to get it right; it’s just a matter of seconds.
The meat consistency is different compared to quick-cooking cuts of meat. It is tougher, it does not melt in the mouth and it is less juicy.
4 minutes per side; inside temperature around 65 °C. There is only a very pale pink strip in the centre; everything else is thoroughly cooked with a beautiful brown crust. In order to turn out good, the steak must be excellent and with the right fat content. If the steak is too lean, the result will be disappointing and you’ll end up wasting a perfectly good steak.
It is extremely hard to get this level of steak doneness right, since the meat usually dries out a lot. It doesn’t happen very often that a true steak lover likes overcooked meat, anyways. It is not the ideal degree of doneness for Chianina Florentine steaks, but to each its own…
You need to cook the steak for 6 minutes per side and the inside temperature should reach 72 °C. The meat is brown and there are no traces of pink, not even in the centre.
You only need your hand to do the touch test. The muscle located under the thumb should have the same firmness as the steak. I know it might seem weird, but bear with me.
If you want your steak cooked to rare: press your left thumb and index finger together and touch with your right index finger the muscle located at the base of the thumb. Do your hand and the steak have the same firmness? Great, mission accomplished. Is the steak softer? It is still extra rare. Is the steak tougher? Pity! You cooked it too long.
If you press your thumb and your middle finger together, you will be able to feel the consistency of a steak cooked to medium; thumb with ring finger together gives you the firmness of a well-cooked steak, while thumb and pinkie finger give you the consistency of an overcooked steak.
The golden rules for a perfect Florentine steaks
Always do this
Very hot grill. It allows the meat to cauterise, i.e. form the delicious crust on the outside layer of the steak. Moreover, the meat is going to seal in all the juices upon touching the pan, preventing any leakage; the steak will therefore be tender and very juicy.
Let the steak rest once it’s done cooking for at least 4 minutes, before serving it. Don’t worry, it’s not going to get cold; it has taken in enough heat from the grill. Juices must redistribute through the steak, in order to obtain the perfect Florentine steak that is not going to ooze out blood even if it’s cooked to extra rare.
Pat the steak out before cooking it. As we have already said, the steak should seal in all the juices upon touching the grill; however, if there is some water on its surface, the meat is not going to be able to form the crust as quickly. The result will be like a steamed meat.
Massage the meat with a small amount of oil before cooking it. It helps adding flavour to the meat and not sticking to the pan. This is especially important if you choose a quick-cooking cut of meat; you have a couple of seconds to flip the steak, so it should release itself from the pan straight away.
Never do this
Never cook a cold steak out of the fridge. The meat should be at room temperature when you cook it. That’s why you should take it out of the fridge at least 3 hours before cooking it. Wasting such a fine cut of meat like this is a crime.
Never pierce the meat. The outside crust is very precious since it prevents the meat juices from oozing out. If you pierce it, you will end up with tough and dried-out meat. That’s why you should handle a temperature probe very carefully; it’s best to use the touch test to avoid making a mess.
Perhaps do this
Let’s talk about salt. According to tradition, a Florentine steak should only be salted after being cooked. As you know, salt helps releasing liquids; that’s why it is used to dry food out and preserve it. That’s partially true; to dry food out, salt requires at least half an hour. So you can salt your steak before cooking it, if you wish so; it is scientifically proven that nothing will go wrong.
Steak is a simple and at the same time hard dish to do. Once you have chosen the meat, no particular techniques or complex recipes are required to cook it. However, when a recipe is so simple (take the meat and cook it properly), it is also very easy to get it wrong. Half a minute is all it takes to get the cooking wrong. There are no additional flavours, sauces or anything that can help you cover up potential mistakes - steak is just steak.
Becoming acquainted with degrees of steak doneness requires time and experience. On the other hand, choosing the best meat is very easy. Our Chianina steaks are simply outstanding, because they are genuine, juicy and are made from animals that are properly reared. Try it out for yourself!