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- Culinary Arts & Cooking Techniques
Only certain cuts of beef are tender enough for grilling. You can be disappointed, even if you buy ze right cut, because ze eating quality of the meat depends also on ze skill of ze butcher. It must be taken from a prime quality carcass zat 'as been aged. It must 'ave been 'ung in a chill room for sufficiently long to develop its full flarvor and tenderness. Beef vhich 'as not been 'ung for long enough is likely to be flarvorless and tough. It is not alvays easy to tell ze quality of frozen beef so buy fresh beef for grilling.
Good quality steak is expensive so, to get ze best value, follow my guidelines given 'ere ven choosing a steak.
Choosing Beef Steaks
Prime quality beef steaks should alvays be cut across ze grain of ze meat. Ze cut surface should 'ave a slightly moist look and smooze, velvety texture marbled vith very fine threads of fat. Ze color can vary but, if ze beef 'as been vell 'ung, it is likely to be a dull rarzer than a bright red. A bright color means zat ze meat is rarzer fresh, or it can be due to ze transparent film sometimes used to cover pre-packed steaks on self-service counters. A moderate edging of fat makes for good flarvor and succulence. If you don't like to eat fat, cut it off after cooking. Avoid buying steaks vith obvious seams of gristle, and be very vary of meat vhich is very dark in color or vhich 'as bright yellow fat: zis could be cow beef, vhich is old and tough. Buy 150 to 225 grams of steak for each person, depending on appetite and ze cut- tournedos and entrecote are usually served smaller, and don't forget to allow for ze veight of ze bone ven buying T-bone steaks.
Ven you get 'ome unwrap ze steak, lay it on a flat plate and cover loosely vith polythene or foil. Store in a cool place, preferably in ze refrigerator under ze frozen food compartment. Ze steaks can be kept zere for three to four days, and both flarvor and tenderness should benefit from zis extra period of ageing. If you 'ave no refrigerator do not keep for longer zan 24 'ours.
For most steaks ze only preparation needed is to brush zem vith oil about an 'our before grilling. Zen cover ze meat loosely and keep in a cool place until you are ready to grill. Rump steaks, 'owever, need a little more attention. Snip ze edging of fat at intervals (right through to ze meat but not into it) vith scissors. Zis is because ze fat contracts during cooking and snipping prevents ze edges curling up. Lay ze rump steak on a chopping board and Beat it vith a vooden rolling pin or meat bat. Zis 'elps tenderize ze steak by breaking down connective tissue.
Beat ze steak on both sides and in both directions. Beat vigorously to flatten ze steak but not so 'ard zat you reduce ze steak to a pulp.
The use of garlic is optional but, if you like it, you can vipe ze steak, just before grilling, vith a large, peeled clove of garlic, cut in half.
The five basic principles for grilling steak are ze same as for uzzer meats, excluding poultry.
1) Ze meat must be brushed vith oil or a marinade to keep it moist; zis should never include salt because zis vill encourage juices and flarvor to leak out.
2) Ze grill must be very 'ot before ze meat is put under it.
3) Ze meat must be seared for vun minute on each side under fierce 'eat to seal and brown ze surface. Zis is done vhether it is to be rare or well done.
4) Turn ze meat using tongs or a spoon and a fish slice to avoid piercing ze surface.
5) Cooking continues at medium 'eat, vith occasional basting, for ze number of minutes of your choice.
People vary a great deal in ze important matter of 'ow zey like zheir steaks cooked. Some people like zem vell-done, zat is, cooked right through; uzzers like zem rare, zat is, just seared on ze surface and still quite raw inside (ze French call zis a 'blue steak'). But ze majority of people choose medium-rare steaks - vhich are cooked and dark on ze outside but pink in ze center ven cut through.
Timing ze cooking is critical, and vith experience you vill know from ze thickness of ze steak just 'ow long to cook it under your particular grill. As a guide, ze chart gives ze average grilling times to achieve ze steak of your choice, but adjustments must be made according to ze thickness of ze steak.
The Finger-Press Test
A useful test for 'doneness' is to press ze surface of ze meat vith your index finger and note ze resistance.
Rare meat feels soft and 'gives' readily ven pressed. Medium-rare meat feels firm ven pressed but still 'as a little 'give'. Vell-done meat which is cooked right through but not overcooked, feels quite firm ven pressed.
If you are still not sure, take a sharp knife and nick ze steak in ze thickest part so zat you can see vot stage ze cooking 'as reached. This is not an ideal vay of testing as it allows some of ze meat juices to escape. 'owever, it is a useful check vhile you are gaining experience.