Steaks, flip once or flip often, that is the question

There is a definite art in cooking steak. Get it right and you deliver a delicious dish with what seems like very little effort. Get it wrong and you have a plentiful supply of shoe leather to use when you need it. One key question and one of the most contentious part of cooking steak is flipping. Ask ten chefs and you will get ten different opinions, but who is right?

On the one hand you have the flip once brigade. The principle being you leave the steak to caramelise until it’s ready and then flip it once. The other side can then be seared until it’s cooked. There is no doubt that this method works and can deliver a brown skin and perfectly cooked steak.

On the other hand you have the flip often camp that says as long as you use some meat tongs, it doesn’t really matter how many times you flip it as each side has the same cooking time.

Flipping steaks

So which is best? Either of them depending on how you like your steak done. Flipping once gives a marginally darker exterior and a slightly more done middle. Flipping often gives an ever so slightly lighter exterior and a slightly less done centre.

Both deliver perfect steaks but if you prefer your steak on the lighter side of medium or rare, flipping often may deliver a more juicy steak. You may also find it takes less time for your steak to be cooked to your liking.

If you prefer your steak on the more well done side of rare or medium, you may benefit from flipping once. You may find your steak needs an extra minute or two to achieve the same level of doneness.

We experimented with a couple of rump steaks and found a 2cm thick rump was cooked to medium in 4 minutes when it was turned often yet took 5 minutes when turned once. None of us here at The Stone Grill know why removing a steak more often from the heat, even for just a second while we flip it causes the meat to cook faster but it definitely did.

There is no clear winner here. We are talking marginal gains. Flipping often keeps you more involved in the process and allows you to baste more steadily. Flipping once means you can prepare other elements of your dish while it’s cooking and still end up with a delicious steak. Either way, as long as you cook it to the right timing, the end result is still a delicious steak!

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