Friday, April 22, 2011

My Steak Recipe/ Grilling Technique

I have no intention of portraying myself as a man who knows his way around the kitchen or of turning this into a 'Modern Man's Guide to Cooking' but I happen to enjoy eating a good steak. This was very difficult for me to achieve because traditionally the concept of eating steak medium rare was not an option because good restaurants were never Halaal and Indian restaurants tended to prefer serving their steak one degree short of cremation. My wife says that the difference between Biltong and a steak from a traditional Indian restaurant is one is 'dried' while the other 'fried'. Eating rare meat is as foreign to South African Indians as 'Marmite on Toast'.

Then I discovered the internet (well, to be perfectly honest, it took me quite a while to discover the stove) and I realised that I could make the steak of my dreams at home. Bear in mind that this was before the days of Muslim Boutique Restaurants and Halaal Spur franchises. The technique/ recipe below is the culmination of all those failed attempts and new age recipes ( At one stage I used to add freshly ground coffee beans to my steak rub because that's how you make a New York Steak). It would be wrong to call it my recipe/ technique because it is a combination of many very popular recipes out there but in my family of great cooks (Wife, mother, sister and father), I am the 'Steak Man' (they don't really call me that, most of the time). When we are having Grilled Steak, there is no question as to who will donning the apron. (p.s. I have a very manly apron that reads " I am not fat, there is just more of me to cuddle". I know that this post would have been better with pictures but I was too hungry whilst preparing lunch today and my family has left no remains. I may update this post with pictures at a later time. I have included a picture of a steak I found on the internet, just to make you hungrier whilst reading this post.

Some important things to remember when making a grilled steak.
  • Do not use frozen steaks. 
  • The steak must be at room temperature before grilling.
  • Ask your butcher to cut you a steak for grilling (I generally prefer 2,5 - 3 cm  thickness). My preference regarding cuts is fillet, rump, sirloin, porterhouse.
  • If you are too lazy too peel and use fresh Garlic, You Don't DESERVE garlic! (Just kidding, although fresh garlic is best, it is not always an option due to time, laziness or the availability of fresh garlic in your fridge. I have often used the crushed garlic variety that one finds in oil in screwtop jars because of the lazy option)
  • Finally, you need a good griddle pan to prevent your steak from  burning especially if you like your meat well done.
I begin by rubbing my steak with 'Steak and Chops' spice, some freshly ground pepper and garlic (if you are using fresh garlic then please chop these fine). You can either refrigerate the steak now or allow to settle to room temperature before grilling. Whilst this is happening, I prepare the herby chilli olive oil mix. Here you can do whatever you wish really but this is what currently works for me. 
  • Italian herbs (of the Robertson's Dried variety)
  • Some fresh herbs to give your patrons the perception that they are eating something exotic and fresh. Perception is everything hence I use the apron whenever I am in the kitchen :). A few sprigs of rosemary, some fresh roughly cut basil or even origanum leaves.
  • paprika (for some extra spice)
  • And some good quality olive oil (like the kind you find in your local supermarket, not the kind made by monks on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius but if you have the latter, it would work as well.)
I have not added any quantities to the above because I have no clue. Just be reasonable and don't litigate if things don't work out well.

When you are ready to grill, lightly coat your griddle pan with some butter (see last note below) or oil and heat to a high temperature. You then salt the steak (the amount of salt is dependent on personal taste but bear in mind that salt is already included in the steak and chops spice (as in most meat rubs) and then baste with the herby chilli olive oil mix. Place the steak in the pan and press down to ensure that the meat is making proper contact with the pan. Whilst the one side is being done, apply the herby chilli olive oil mix and some salt to the exposed uncooked side. Wait 2 minutes then turn over. For medium, I grill for 8 minutes turning it over every two minutes. For well done, I would add another 4 minutes to this (2 minutes a side). With a good griddle pan, one can achieve that classic 'grillhouse look' by remembering to rotate the steak when turning it. Remember to burn the fat around the edge for a while before removing form the pan. (N.B Cooking times may vary based on the thickness of the cut, the heat generated from your stove and whether you are using a gas stove)

I would then rest the steak (leave it on a plate) for about 4 minutes before serving. Resting allows the juices which have retracted to the centre of the piece of meat to return giving it a juicier taste. If you have a thick piece of meat with a nice piece of fat around it then try and rest the steak standing up i.e. place the fat on the plate. this prevents the juices from escaping from the meat.

Your steak is now ready and can be served with a mushroom or pepper sauce (of the Woolworths heat and pour variety), some baked potatoes/ chips and a salad ( to ease your conscience)

Some additional tips/ ideas to try
  • Add some unflavoured yoghurt to the marinade mix if you want the steak to be softer and more 'melt in your mouth'. The cultures in the yoghurt dissolve the fibres in the meat. I generally do this when not cooking fillet steak (which is your best most tender cut). 
  • Try replacing the steak and chops rub with just salt and pepper seasoning
  • Finally, if you want to really impress someone, you need to use BUTTER. Butter (copious amounts) is the main reason why restaurant food always tastes better than ours. And you thought it was all those years of training Tsk Tsk. I add the butter while the steak is grilling on the pan, before turning over the first time. Then I add a little bit more to the side that has just been cooked.
I hope you enjoyed this post and use it as the basis for your own experimentation. I hope that if I have taught you anything, it was that adding ground coffee beans to your steak rub may sound posh but it would never turn you into 'The Steak Man' of your family.


  1. I must agree, the steak is awesome, if only he could expand his repertoire. There are six other days in the week you know

  2. A lecturer at University once told me, "If you can cook, don't cook well because you will be cooking for the rest of your life!". I should have heeded his words before perfecting my steak but I learn from my mistakes :)