Bernie's Best Beef

by Bernie
(Melbourne, Australia)

My steak!

My steak!

Personally I like a reasonably thick steak but realistically I use steaks about 20mm thick – that’s a pretty standard butcher cut. Avoid steaks much thinner – I wouldn’t think they’re much good on a barbeque.

In Australia, steaks are cut across the grain of the piece so grains in the steak are short. In some other countries I have visited, steaks are often cut along the grain and can be a bit chewy even if well cooked. This would need different techniques for success.

I prefer to cook eye fillet – it’s the best cut. And I like a leaner cut for health reasons. If you want more fat, go for a piece of rump which has more fat marbled through it and on the edge.

So you need to give the meat some respect – it doesn’t appreciate sudden temperature changes and won’t be happy going straight from the fridge to the hot-plate.

First, allow the meat to acclimatise to room temperature, leave it on the bench, covered, or while taking on moisture and extra flavour in a marinade. If no marinade, just some cracked pepper on one side adds a bit. On a really hot day be careful – acclimatisation won’t take as long as on a cold day and you don’t want it sitting around too long!

When it comes to the barbeque, you need to know the traits of the unit. It can take some experimentation to get it right – if you (or your “clientele”) are not happy with the results, pay attention to what you have done and modify it next time.

I use either an electric Sunbeam at our apartment or a three burner gas unit with cover at our holiday house. Techniques, especially preheating, vary. Obviously you can’t just start up the heat and get the meat on straight away.

On gas, I fire it up on high under the grill, (I prefer to use this rather than the plate) and then turn it down low when the temperature gauge is hot. I like to maintain temperature around 160C. On the electric, it’s real easy – turn it on full and leave it there, with the gauge on max.

Now, on either barbeque, place the steaks on the grill and only turn over once. I like to spin (not turn over) the steak after about two minutes to get the nice grill bars burnt in a criss-cross pattern. Or don’t. Either way, I leave it on side one for about four minutes – that’s about how long it takes for juices to start to appear on the top of the steaks. Turn them over for about three/four more minutes, sometimes with a spin at about half time.

Off, and rest on a clean plate (covered with foil or another plate) while the rest of the meal organisation is finalised.

I like them about medium/rare – the above technique gives us nice steaks with a touch of reddish inside.

Beautiful! And pretty good with a nice red.

Some other tips –
> Start with a clean grill, and on the gas, a bit of oil on the bars will stop the steak sticking to it
> Don’t be afraid to wear an apron – keeps the spatters off your clothes
> If you wear spectacles, take them off if you can or you’ll have to clean them later after a serious bbq stint
> Food hygiene – don’t use raw meat utensils for cooked meat.

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