There’s no treat quite like a perfectly seared steak, cooked to your liking, served with your favourite side dishes and puddle of sauce. Mix and match the components of your special supper by using our step-by-step guide to creating the perfect steak.
1. Choose your cut
Choosing a cut of steak may seem an intimidating task as there are so many to choose from. Tender, expensive cuts like fillet steak are very different to rump or sirloin. The latter cuts are chewier in texture but have more depth of flavour.
If you really want to impress you could ask your butcher for a chateaubriand, a succulent, long fillet of beef cut from the back of the cow that can be cooked as a steak but usually serves two or three guests.
More unusual cuts include porterhouse (or t-bone), which has a bone running down the middle, or filet mignon, a medallion-like cut taken from the back of the tenderloin. You’re less likely to find these in supermarkets, so try a good local butcher instead.
Opting for a cheaper cut may go against the ethos of a luxurious steak dinner, but they’re often where you’ll find the best flavour. Skirt, bavette and flank cuts should be flash-fried and served as rare as you can handle – these lean steaks can shrivel up and become really tough if left to cook at length.
2. Look for the best meat
When choosing your cut, it should be moist rather than dry or slimy. Look for firm, fine-grained meat with a light marbling of fat – without this the steak will be dry once cooked. Any fat on the edges of the steak should be creamy-coloured, and properly hung beef – meat that’s been matured on hooks to enhance the condition – should be deep burgundy in colour, not bright red.
If you’re picking a pre-cut steak, make sure it is neatly trimmed with no fragments of shattered bone.
3. Cook to perfection
Visit our guide to cooking the perfect steak for start-to-finish tips. We have a time chart for how to cook it to your preference, plus tips for checking it’s cooked correctly, and also information on pans and oils.
4. Serve up
We recommend serving the steak whole, allowing the diner to make the first break through the crispy seared outside. However, if you’d like to double check it’s cooked correctly, or find a fan-shaped presentation appealing, slice the steak on the diagonal and arrange on the plate.
This video guide shows you how to achieve a professional slice, and also contains information on cooking your steak from start to finish.
Shake up your side dishes
A pile of thin chips and a jug of sauce are two of our favourite accompaniments to steak, but our guide to side dishes should provide you with some original ideas.
5. Choose a drink
You can’t argue with the tried-and-tested formula of steak and red wine. Try and get your hands on a really good Malbec, then close your eyes and pretend you’re enjoying your steak on a ranch in Argentina. Syrah, pinotage and cabernet sauvignon are all perfectly good alternatives.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to matching beef steak with beer. Some would argue the palate-cleansing nature of lager or IPA would cut through the fatty richness of the steak, while others say the caramelised notes of porters and stouts bring out the slightly sweet charred flavour of the steak.