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A Guide To The Perfect Steak

The Gaucho Guide To Cooking An Elite Steak

Learning how to cook a steak is a fine art. From the way the meat is prepared to the different cooking techniques and the accompanying sauce and seasonings, it’s a culinary adventure from start to finish. At Gaucho, we always source our high-quality meat from our trusted suppliers and our expert chefs prepare it to perfection. Whether you prefer your steak rare or well done, at Gaucho restaurants you’re always sure of an amazing dining experience. 

So, if you’re looking for tips and tricks to help you finesse your fillet and refine your Ribeye, we’ve created this useful guide on how to cook the perfect steak.

Understanding Steak Cuts

The first step on the journey to creating the perfect steak is understanding the different cuts of meat, which influence the steak’s taste, tenderness and cooking process. Gaucho’s most iconic steak cuts include the Ribeye, Sirloin and Filet Mignon, but we also serve up Tomahawk, Porterhouse and Wagyu steaks too.

  • The Ribeye Steak

The Ribeye is a juicy steak with a full-bodied flavour. Delicately marbled with fat, the Ribeye comes from one of the more tender parts of the cow and is well-suited to high-heat, fast cooking. 

  • The Sirloin Steak

The Sirloin steak is tender and succulent and goes well with buttery sauces. Leaner than a Ribeye, this cut comes from the top of the cow’s back. Sirloin steak is tender enough for speedy, high-heat cooking techniques like grilling or pan-searing. 

  • The Filet Mignon

Filet mignon is the smaller tip of tenderloin, a leaner cut of meat that retains a lovely tenderness. As filet mignon has no fat or bones, it cooks quickly. You can briefly sear your filet mignon in a skillet before transferring it to the oven, or simply pan-fry it. 

Our amazing Beef and Wine Masterclass even teaches you how to pair different cuts of steak with the perfect wine for the ultimate dining experience.  

Preparing Your Cut of Beef 

Firstly, you must take the steak out of the fridge an hour before cooking to bring it to room temperature. Grilling a stone cold steak stops the heat reaching the middle of the meat, which can lead to dining disaster. 

Next up: how to season a steak. A simple but effective option is to rub the steak with plenty of salt, anywhere from half an hour to several hours before cooking. Salt with a finer grain, like kosher salt or sea salt, is the best for seasoning steaks.

If you like bold flavours, use a spice rub. Pat your steak dry, then rub a mixture of garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, oregano and light brown sugar all over it. You can also use dried herbs like thyme, rosemary and sage, or give your steak a kick with chilli flakes and cayenne pepper! Some chefs also massage a good glug of olive oil into the meat beforehand. 

Making The Most of Your Tools and Equipment 

Although cooking an elite steak doesn’t require much equipment, there are a few key tools you’ll need in your kitchen. 

  • Cast iron pan

Cast iron pans retain heat well, searing the meat to perfection – a must when cooking steak

  • Meat thermometer

Cooking steak is all about timing – no one wants to eat charcoal! A meat thermometer can prevent the steak from becoming overdone

  • Steak knives

A set of sturdy steak knives are ideal for slicing up your steak 

  • Tongs

A good pair of tongs help you safely flip your steak while it’s in the pan and won’t perforate the meat

Part of the joy of steak cooking is trying lots of different tools and techniques to find your favourite. To further develop your knowledge of cleaning, preparing and grilling different cuts of meat, our famous Gaucho Cookery School is always ready to welcome new chefs!

Cooking Techniques For Steak

There are lots of ways to cook a great steak, from barbecuing and pan-searing to grilling and frying. If you want to know how to grill steak or how to cook medium-rare steak, follow our tips below for the best results:

  • Do: Heat up your pan, grill, griddle or barbecue before you begin – this is essential for a delicious crust and creates a wonderful sizzling sound when the steak hits the grill. On the grill, steaks take four to five minute to become the perfect golden brown
  • Don’t: Fiddle with your steak – let the crust form and the steak brown before flipping it
  • Do: Check how rare you or your guests like your steak. Depending on the thickness of the cut, three to four minutes on each side will make a medium-rare steak
  • Don’t: Be afraid to baste your steak with garlic, butter and herbs while it cooks, for an even richer flavour

How To Tell If Your Steak Is Cooked 

There’s nothing quite like achieving the perfect level of doneness, but how do you know when your steak is cooked? You could use a meat thermometer, but this risks letting the juices escape. A more fun way is to use the tried and tested hand method – a favourite with top chefs. 

Feel the palm of your hand, just below your thumb – it should be soft and fleshy. This is what raw steak should feel like. Now bring your thumb and your index finger together, then touch the same part of your palm again – it should be slightly firmer than before. A rare steak should feel like this. Touching your thumb to your middle finger creates the feeling of a medium-rare steak, thumb and ring finger equals a medium steak and finally, touching your thumb to your pinky finger creates a well-done steak. Try it and see for yourself!

The Importance of Resting and Slicing Your Steak

Once you have cooked your steak, it’s time to let it rest. Resting meat enables the delicious juices to be reabsorbed and distributed evenly through the meat, making it even more succulent. If you slice into your steak too soon, the juice will pour out and the meat will become dry and chewy. As a general rule, thinner cuts of meat should be rested for five to seven minutes, while thick cuts need longer resting times of ten to 20 minutes.

When it’s time to serve your steak, slice against the grain. When you look closely at the steak, you should see small parallel lines in the meat – this is the grain. Cutting with your knife perpendicular to these lines shortens the muscle fibres, which makes the steak more tender and easier to chew. Try not to overthink this part of the process – small, simple cuts are most effective. 

How to Enhance The Flavour

There’s something beautiful about a simply cooked steak, but you can enhance the flavour even more by seasoning your steak or drizzling it with a delicious sauce.

The best time to season a steak is before you cook it – this allows the flavours to really sink in. However, there’s no reason why you can’t add extra seasoning during or after cooking.

While your steak is in the pan and you have seared it on both sides, try adding a knob of unsalted butter to the pan with some garlic or shallot, and herbs like thyme or sage. As the butter melts, it will infuse with the herbs and aromatics, which you can use to baste your steak. This gives it a decadent, nutty flavour.

Our signature Gaucho steak sauces are peppercorn, béarnaise, blue cheese, smoked chipotle and chimichurri. Part of the joy of cooking steak is experimenting with bold flavours to find your perfect combination. 

Common Mistakes When Cooking Steak

Even the best chefs make mistakes. We’ve rounded up some of the most common steak slipups below:

  • Buying the wrong cut of meat. If you’re unsure what type of steak you need or how to cook it, ask your local butcher for advice
  • Cooking a wet steak. Wet steaks create steam, but not that delicious caramelised crust. Pat your steak dry before cooking to avoid this mishap
  • Using the wrong pan. Steaks cook best in cast iron pans – avoid non-stick or stainless steel pans
  • Underseasoning. Try to ‘overdo’ your seasoning, as some of it will fall off during the cooking process
  • Washing the pan straight after cooking. Did you know that you can use the pan drippings to make the perfect steak sauce? Just pour off any excess fat, add some water and cook over medium-low heat, then add a knob of butter for a velvety smooth sauce.

Important Things To Consider

If you’re vegetarian or don’t eat certain types of meat, there are alternative options out there! Vegetarian or vegan steaks can be made using anything and everything from cauliflower, pea or soy protein to mushrooms, wheat gluten and lentils. Innovative cooking techniques mean that you can still achieve the perfect sear on your plant-based steak, including using butter and garlic, or marinading it every few minutes. 

Although preparing your own steaks at home can seem daunting, by following our tips you’ll soon be able to cook the perfect steak, just like a true Gaucho chef.


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