Some top tips on how to cook the perfect medium-rare fillet steak at home
Cooking the perfect steak is like finding the perfect pair of jeans – a deceptively simple, one-dimensional task which actually takes years of trial & error to get right. Well, my friends, I have gone through the trials and I’ve made all the errors and have now emerged on the other side, with what I believe to be the true secrets to success when it comes to cooking a tasty, well-seasoned, restaurant-standard, melt-in-the-mouth, cuts-like-butter fillet steak from the comfort of your own kitchen…
How to prepare your fillet steak before cooking it
- Remove the meat from the fridge 30-45 minutes before cooking so it can come to room temperature.
- Place into a bowl with plenty of room for it to breathe. Don’t go suffocating those steaks now.
- Coat in a generous glug of olive oil, lashings of sea salt (don’t be shy here) and plenty of black pepper on both sides for it to sit in for the 30-45 minutes before cooking. We ain’t concerned about cardiovascular wellbeing right now.
How to cook the perfect medium-rare steak
- Get your pan super, super hot before even thinking about putting the steaks into it – place it on the hob on the highest heat setting and leave the pan to heat up for about 5 minutes.
- Place the steak(s) down into the pan – I’d only do a maximum of two fillet steaks in the pan at a time – and DO NOT move.
- Fry on the highest heat and only flip to the other side when you can see the cook lines have risen half way up the steak.
- Turn over to cook on the other side and again, don’t move or shuffle. The steaks I mean. You can move and shuffle as much as you like. I like listening to my 80’s playlist in kitchen. Bruce Springsteen is a personal fave.
- Before removing from the heat, using tongs, seal each side of the steak(s) against the pan.
- Transfer to a wide bowl, cover with tin foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
How to know when a medium-rare steak is done
You’ve most probably stumbled across the hand test on your quest to cooking the perfect fillet steak at home, right? Well it’s actually a pretty good guideline to go by as B.S. as it might look.
So if you want your steak medium-rare, give it a prod with your (clean) finger and remove it from the pan when it feels like the diagonal area between your thumb and wrist (as shown in the diagram above).
Remember – it will continue to cook as it rests under the tin foil so be confident in taking it off the heat when you think the time is right. You got this.
How to season a fillet steak properly
When it comes to seasoning your steak and giving it plenty of flavour, I’ve found that less is always more. My top tips and pearls of wisdom:
- Invest in some Maldon salt – it’s more expensive than your average sea salt but boy is it worth it and makes ALL the difference when seasoning steaks, meat or literally anything for that matter.
- When coming to room temperature before cooking, coat the steaks in Maldon salt, black pepper and olive oil so the meat moistens and takes on flavour before it even hits the pan.
You’ll see people rubbing their steaks with garlic and tossing them with sprigs of rosemary and sure this will taste divine but if you just want a simple, straight-up fillet steak that melts in the mouth and tastes like heaven, it’s not necessary.
How to get lines (or grill marks) on a steak at home
The only way you can do this is by cooking the meat on a griddle (grill) pan. In order to get those restaurant-style grill lines/sear marks on the meat, you need to place the steaks onto the pan and DO NOT MOVE THEM until it’s time to flip.
Things people will tell you you need to do but you don’t:
- Spend a mortgage on premium meat – You do get what you pay for to a certain extent, there’s no denying that but for a great fillet steak at home, you don’t need to break the bank. The one in the photo above came from Tesco and cost me the princely sum of £5 sterling.
- Drown your steak in butter – People baste their steaks with butter whilst cooking to keep it moist but I’ve found marinating in olive oil for a short while before cooking does this much more effectively (and with less fat/calories too).
- Cooking steak in the oven – It’s a technique that works – there’s nothing wrong with it – but I’ve just never found it to be necessary. Save the faff, save your electricity bill, save the planet and leave the oven switched off – a scorching hot pan will be just fine.
- Buy a meat thermometer or use a timer – I mean, this might help if you’re a true novice but timings are different for all cuts of meat and weights of steak so using your common sense (and the hand test) is the way to go in my opinion.
Let me know how you get on by tagging me in your #SteakPorn snaps on Instagram @hihungryharriet!