The late, great Anthony Bourdain was great fun to watch. Outspoken, knowledgeable, outgoing, adventurous and made for great TV. I watched a lot of his shows, both on TV and Netflix and was very sad to see him go. One of the more contentious things he said was that everyone cooks their steak wrong.
I was reminded of this when I was reading one of his books on his travels. Like many things he said, he said it for effect. It was a sweeping generalisation that was directed at home chefs rather than professional chefs but did get quite the reaction.
His comments were made in a podcast with fellow American Marc Maron back in 2016. He said:
“No one knows how to grill a backyard steak in this country,” Bourdain says.
“What?” Maron asks.
“Everybody grills backyard steaks,” Bourdain says, “if they’ve got a backyard and can afford steak …
“They cook it too high, but the biggest mistake — what everybody does — is they’re poking it all the time, they’re jabbing it and poking it, checking to see if it’s done inside.
“And then the worst is they haul it off the grill”
“And they cut into it right away?” Maron says.
“Right away,” Bourdain says.
“Let the thing sit,” he says. “Because what’s going on inside that unmolested steak is all sorts of magical recirculation of its juices, and it comes out perfect. If you cut into it right away, it’s sort of got that bull’s-eye pattern, you know — it’s fiery red in the centre. Everything’s wrong. It’s just that simple thing. Rest it.”
This wisdom echoes what I have been saying on this blog for the past couple of years. You have to cook your steak properly in order to get the best out of it. Turn it only once or twice, with tongs so you don’t break the steak and allow the juice to leak out.
Let your steak rest. A practical minimum would be ten minutes but if you can suppress your desire for a little longer, all the better. Leaving a steak to rest allows the muscle fibres to relax and the juices to flow throughout the steak. Two things that can seriously enhance the flavour and eating experience.
If you’re tempted to eat your steak right away. Don’t. It’s a big mistake. Rest it for almost as long as you cooked it and you will immediately taste the difference. If you don’t do it already, try it and see what I mean. I guarantee that your patience will be rewarded!