This wasn’t a ordinary steak. Not that steak is ordinary around here. I took great pains to ensure that this was the best.steak.ever.
And now, I get to share it with you.
For reasons that I’m not going to go into here, I had the opportunity to purchase a steak for dinner. I took great pains to ensure that the singular piece of meat I was going to be the best friggin steak I ever made. So I started with purchasing the steak. I wasn’t going for frozen meat; I picked up the fresh steak in Machane Yehuda.
The ideal steak, or any beef portion for that matter, begins at 400 grams. Now, there’s a thing with counter guys about hitting exact weights. So when I asked for 400 grams, he cuts off a steak and weighs it. He nailed it exactly at 400 grams. I was duly impressed and let him know it. Whatever, it’s a thing.
I brought it home and wrapped it loosely in parchment paper, then left it alone in the fridge for about four days. This gives the meat a chance to age.
Ageing meat is the process by which the moisture in the meat is slowly released, concentrating the flavor of the meat. Naturally, this means that the steak is going to weigh less than when you started. So after four days of sitting unmolested in the fridge, it wound up looking like this:
The outside was dried out like leather, as expected. And the color of the meat? That’s what we were looking for.
Part of the problem with meat in Israel is that it’s cryo-packed so quickly, the net exposure to air is minimized. Which for preventing bacterial infection is great. However, there is a compound in the muscles that needs the air. It’s called myoglobin. It’s like hemoglobin, but that’s found in the blood. The myoglobin reacts with the oxygen and turns red. When you cook a piece of meat that goes from frozen to cooked without giving it a chance to breathe, you get grey meat.
The Rule: Let your meat sit out uncovered and undisturbed for an hour to come to room temperature before cooking. You will thank me later.
I pulled out my sharpest knife, sharpened it some more, and carefully trimmed away the outer layer of dried meat. I was left with this (the color in the photo doesn’t do it justice):
I heated up a dry frying pan, let it get smoking hot. I seasoned the meat with some salt and pepper only, and put it in the pan. Once in the pan, I flipped it every thirty seconds or so…
… a technique recommended by Heston Blumenthal. His reasoning is that by not letting the surface of the meat stay in contact with the hot surface for too long, you minimize the penetration of the heat that will brown the inside of the meat. Is he right? I should say so. You be the judge:
The steak was about two-thirds gone before I remembered to get the camera. Seasoned perfectly, cooked to perfect rareness, it was very much worth every second of the fuss.
I made some potatoes to go with it, but do you really care?