Wednesday 8 September 2010

How to cook a great steak and the Maillard reaction.

What to know how to cook a great steak? 

Well its not just how good your meat is that matters, although  being well hung is important, at the Kings Head, ours are Cotswold free range and hung for 28 days. As is being marbled in appearance, the white streaks being fat, will usually mean plenty of flavour. However, how you cook a steak is really important and this is where the Maillard reaction comes in.

Named after French, would have to have been, scientist Louis Camille Maillard (1878- 1936) it describes the reactions between amino acids and reducing sugars at increased temperatures.The browning or caremalisation then of a steak or in fact any piece of meat is very important as this produces the complex flavours we all, apart from the odd veggie,  enjoy.

So after you have bought your fantastic steak with great marbling and from a reputable  butcher, the King's Head uses Martins Meats from Cheltenham, how do you cook it ?

Well this is the method we use in our restaurant in Ross on Wye. First, get your meat out of the fridge in good time so its at room temperature, season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Oil your pan with a little clarified butter and vegetable oil and heat it up as high as you can until the pan is beginning to smoke, at the Kings Head we use heavy cast iron pans. Place your steak on the pan and seal for a minute on each side, then place the steak on a char grill, in a home just lower the temperature a notch on your pan. Cook, turning every minute or so until you reach your preference, personally I'm a rare man.

Let your steak rest somewhere warm,  for at least a couple of minutes to relax the meat, this is when we usually make a sauce, and then voila we have a tasty, tender juicy steak.