Ingredients (4 people)
- 2 Sirloin steaks (measuring approx 4cm in thickness and weighing around 500g each)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 150g of butter
- ¼ bunch of thyme
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- ½ tbsp black pepper
A perfectly cooked pink, juicy, sirloin steak is often something only associated with that of top restaurants and steak-houses. Steak is an expensive choice both in a restaurant and when cooked at home, and lacking the know-how of a trained chef to decide when it is done can make the whole process quite daunting.
There are a few key points to consider when cooking the perfect sirloin steak: The type of pan used, when to add the seasoning and perhaps most importantly how long you cook it. Also, the fat used to cook it in and the resting time play a part in the end result.
One of the most important things to remember before cooking a sirloin steak is to make sure it is at room temperature before it goes anywhere near the pan. Removing it from the fridge at least an hour before cooking means that the meat will cook much more evenly, resulting in a better finish.
An optimum thickness for a steak is between 3cm and 4cm, anything thinner than that means it's more likely to overcook. There are many theories on salting steaks. Some say to do it 10 minutes before cooking, some say to season during cooking, and some even say 40 minutes before. However for the most reliable results, simply season liberally with flaky sea salt (it tastes much better than table salt) just before it goes in the pan.
Leaving the steak hanging around with salt on before cooking will begin to draw moisture from the steak, which will in turn cool the pan down when it is added – not ideal for creating a tasty browned crust. Avoid peppering the steak beforehand as it will burn in the heat of the pan and taste bitter.
USE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
Pick a frying pan or griddle pan with a heavy base as this will help retain the heat whilst cooking. You want to get the pan very hot before the steak goes in, so much so that the oil is almost smoking.
Never cook more than two steaks in the pan at one time, overcrowding the pan will result in a loss of heat. The heat of the pan plays a crucial role in achieving a beautiful brown exterior to the meat – this is called the Maillard reaction and this is what gives browned meat its wonderful roasted flavour.
TIP: Always start cooking your sirloin on the fatty side.
In terms of oil, it is best to use a flavourless oil with a high smoking point such as groundnut or vegetable. If you want, add some butter after you’ve flipped the steaks and baste them with the gorgeous foaming butter as it cooks. Try adding herbs such as rosemary or thyme and garlic when adding the butter for an extra dimension of flavour.
Cooking the Sirloin to your taste
The length of time you cook your steak completely depends on personal preference. A 3-4cm thick steak cooked from room temperature will take about 3 minutes on each side. The most important thing is to sear the exterior without overcooking the inside. Knowing if a steak is cooked by touch is the best way for most. You can check by gently prodding the pad underneath your thumb and comparing it with the meat. When your palm is open it will feel like a blue steak. If you bring your thumb over to touch the underneath of your little finger, it will feel like a well done steak; in between is medium and so on. On the other hand you can use a probe thermometer. Here is some temperature guidance for you to use:
- Rare – 54°C
- Medium rare – 58c°C
- Medium – 61°C
- Medium well – 65°C
- Well done – 72°C
SERVING THE SIRLOIN
The final thing to remember when cooking sirloin steak is the importance of resting time. When the steak is cooked it needs time for the muscle fibres to relax. Cutting into it straight away will result in a loss of moisture and unattractive blood spilling out onto the plate. Resting the meat for around 5 minutes ensures juicy steaks with no blood spillage on the plate. Cover it with foil to preserve the heat.