Opinion: Craig Hickman, aka Dairyman, shares his surprising, innovative and mildly controversial ways to cook the perfect steak.
I cook a pretty mean steak.
I've had plenty of practice and I've got my methodology down pat; season the meat at least an hour before you intend to cook it, bring the steak to room temperature before it hits the pan and always, always oil the meat instead of the cooking surface.
Then I discovered three things that made me rethink my whole steak ideology.
Number one is dry brining.
We're all familiar with brining, the practice of putting chicken or pork in a salt solution to make the meat juicy and tender, dry brining is a similar concept but much cleaner and easier.
Simply salt both sides of your steak and place it on a rack in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
The salt draws the moisture from the meat as you'd expect, but then the magic happens.
Over time the moisture is reabsorbed back into the steak, drawing the salt far deeper into the meat than you get when you season it just before cooking.
As the salt travels deeper it damages some of the cells, tenderising the meat in the process.
Now I always try to plan far enough ahead to give myself time to dry brine.
The second revelation was the reverse sear method of cooking.
This takes time but it is absolutely worth it, the only special piece of equipment you need is a digital meat thermometer.
I've reverse seared in my oven and on my barbecue and it's a breeze.
Set the temperature low, maybe 125 degrees C, and place your steak in the oven with a temperature probe inserted.
In about an hour your steak will reach the magical internal temperature of 47 degrees and out it comes to sit under tinfoil while you get your pan sizzling. Get that pan hot!
A little neutral oil on the steak and bam! Into that pan it goes.
I like to add a little butter with the steak because let's face it, butter makes everything better.
Don't stop at butter though; garlic, thyme, whatever takes your fancy can go in the pan.
Sixty seconds each side, that's all you need to get that lovely crust on the outside and finish cooking it to medium rare.
The other benefit of reverse sear, apart from a more tender steak, is there's no need to rest it after searing. It can go straight from pan to plate to mouth.
My third discovery is going to be a little controversial but trust me on this; monosodium glutamate.
That's right, MSG.
Forget everything negative you've heard about it, the myths surrounding MSG have their roots in anti-Asian sentiment and have been thoroughly disproven time and time again.
This product derived from seaweed is salt on crack. I guarantee beefier, juicier and more tender steak if you dry brine with MSG instead of ordinary salt.
I dry brined two ribeye steaks, one with salt and one with MSG, and then reverse seared them.
Then I ate them both, for science.
Let me tell you, the ordinary steak was fabulous, restaurant quality. But the MSG steak?
Wow! I didn't expect such a big difference between two steaks where the only variable was the type of salt they were seasoned with.
Food should never be boring so don't be afraid to try new things, and rest assured I'll always be here doing the tough research on your behalf.