There’s a lot at stake (pardon the pun) when you cook A-Grade Blou Bull rump steak from Cape to Cairo. Our steaks have been deliberately thick-cut to ensure juiciness, and aged to perfection to guarantee tenderness. How you cook them, however, is out of our hands. So, I have put together this fool-proof guide to help ensure your home-cooked steak is just as good as you expect it to be.
Below is everything you will ever need to know about cooking the ultimate steak over the coals or in the pan.
Use tongs, never a fork, to turn your meat. As the meat cooks, the muscles contract, and if you pierce it at this stage, all the precious juices will be forced out of the meat and lost forever, making your steak dry.
Stainless steel grid
This is essential to cooking a great steak. Stainless steel is a good conductor of heat and will create those delicious grill lines you’re after. It will also last for years and never rust.
Griddle pan or a cast iron pan
This offers an excellent way to bring those outdoor braai flavour indoors! Heat your pan (or even a flat potjie) for a good few minutes to ensure that it’s scorching-hot before adding your steak. Remember to oil the steak, and not the grill, to avoid being smoked out of the house!
A great tool for a novice, because it helps to ensure perfectly-cooked steak every time.
Well done: 65°C and above
Choosing your steak
It’s always advisable to choose the best steak you can afford. This is one place where quality definitely makes a difference! At Cape to Cairo, we only stock A-grade West Australian beef that we procure from reliable and reputable suppliers.
What you are after is a nice thick steak, which is exactly the way we cut them, about 3 cm to 4 cm thick. Our Blou Bull Rump has a lovely ripple of fat running throughout the meat which melts as it cooks, and this keeps the meat well-basted and delicious.
Make sure your steak is at room temperature before you put it on the braai, as this allows your meat to cook more evenly throughout. When it’s too cold, it tends to “shock” and contract as it hits the heat, and this can make it cook unevenly.
Seasoning and basting
There are many opinions around whether one should season a steak before or after cooking. Here at Cape to Cairo HQ we believe in seasoning all the way through, as this builds layers of flavours.
Salt helps to form that lovely dark, crusty layer you’re after, so season your meat liberally with salt and pepper before cooking. This is also the time to add any spices or spice rubs, but hold out on the marinade if it’s heavy on sugar. The sugar in the sauce could burn and turn bitter before your meat is cooked.
The right time to add sticky marinades is halfway through the cooking process. This will ensure that the meat is well caramelised but not burnt. Once your meat is cooked, rested and sliced, you can add another sprinkle of salt and pepper to season the inside of the meat.
Searing and braaiing
Always make sure your pan, grill or coals are nice and hot, so that your timing can start from when your steak hits the heat (and not while you’re waiting for it to heat up).
For a 3 cm thick steak:
- Blue: 2 minutes a side
- Rare: 3 minutes a side
- Medium: 4 minutes a side
- Well done: 5 to 6 minutes a side or longer
A word of advice: remove your steak 5°C (if using a thermometer) or 1 to 2 minutes before your desired temperature or cooking time is reached. From here, you can rest it to perfection. You won’t be sorry!
This is the most important part of cooking steak! The heat makes the meat fibres contract. Once the meat is cooked and off the heat, the fibres relax again and the juices flow between them, making your steak extra juicy. Rest your meat for about 10 to 15 minutes and wait for clear juices to seep out. This is a tell-tale sign it is well rested.
Always slice meat against the grain of the muscle fibres. This makes it more tender and easier to eat. If you cut along the fibres, meat can seem tough and stringy.
GREAT THINGS TO SERVE WITH YOUR STEAK
A handful of rocket or watercress goes a long way to lightening and brightening a steak dinner.
Toasted pine nuts, toasted sesame seeds or slivered almonds can add lovely texture when sides are all creamy or of the same texture.
A bit of heat
If you like a bit of spice, add some fresh chilli to the oil when marinating your steak, or a sprinkle of cayenne pepper or shake of smoky chipotle when it’s done. We have a huge variety of fiery condiments if you love a little heat!
Colman’s hot mustard or creamed horseradish work well in place of a sauce. Or, why not try a little soy sauce and wasabi?
A classic steak accompaniment, a sunny-side fried egg offers a sauce, too.
Try one of our new Funky Ouma salts to finish your seasoning, or something like smoked or herb-infused salts, as they add a different dimension of flavour.
THREE SAUCES TO TRY
Sauté ½ a diced onion, 2 cloves garlic and 1 packet (about 250g) white mushrooms (chopped) in a knob of butter and sprig of thyme until golden. Add 1 tub (250ml) cream and 2-3 Tbsp (30-45ml) brandy (optional) and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Mix 2 tsp (10ml) Maizena with a little water and add to mushrooms. Cook until a little thickened. Season well and serve.
Madagascan pepper sauce
Sauté ½ a diced onion and 2 cloves garlic in a knob of butter until golden. Add 1-2 tsp (5-10ml) milled black pepper, 2-3 Tbsp (30-45ml) green peppercorns (drained) and 1 tub (250ml) cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Add 2-3 Tbsp (30-45ml) brandy (optional). Mix 2 tsp (10ml) Maizena with a little water and add to sauce. Cook until a little thickened. Season well and serve.
Mash ½ cup (125ml) soft butter with 3 finely chopped anchovy fillets, ¼ cup (60ml) shredded biltong, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 2 Tbsp (30ml) each chopped chives, parsley, and capers and 1 Tbsp (15ml) mustard. Add a few shakes Worcestershire sauce and milled pepper and mix well. Roll in a piece of cling film to create a sausage shape and set in the fridge. Serve steaks topped with thick slices of butter.
And that’s about it on the steak front! Here’s to hot coals, perfectly-cooked steaks, full glasses and good friends to share it with.