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MH’S ULTIMATE GUIDE TO COOKING STEAK
Steak – one syllable that will warm the cockles of any discerning meat-lover.
Armed with myriad health benefits — think bundles of nutrients, essential vitamins and heart-friendly fat — it’s been a reliable slice of scran for fitness obsessives for decades, so it pays to cook them cook them well (as well as rare and medium).
Heading from the frying pan and into the fire,MHtook five with Chris Marriot – Head Chef atL’atelier des Chefs cookery school— to discover how to master the steak, from purchase to plate. Steak knives at the ready.
6.30pm – SHOP IT LIKE IT’S HOT
Work’s finished and you're ravenous – so you’re headed to the supermarket, foraging for food that’ll satisfy your tastebuds quickly and easily. “Don’t grab something off the shelf,” says Chris. “Go to the meat counter and talk to the Butcher – they have the trade behind them”. Explain what time you’ve got (or not got), how many mouths you’re feeding and how you’ll be cooking it.
For Chris, a general rule-of-thumb is “the more tender the meat, the less the flavor”, so go for a sirloin — one muscle, nice and simple — or a two-muscle ribeye or rump. Look out for a “dark cherry red”, which denotes that the meat has been aged and is tender for the ultimate flavor.
7.00pm – THE HOME RUN
Time to trudge home. There’s no need to rush, though. “Beef is quite safe, so you don’t need to sprint home”, explains Chris. “You do need to keep it refrigerated and in its original packaging, though”.
7.30pm – REST AND RELAXATION
You’ve got your chosen steak in the fridge, dropped your bags, switched on chill-out mode and are now ready to start cooking up a culinary storm. But, before you even think about turning the heat on, get your steak out the fridge and give it time to warm-up. 20 minutes should do the trick here, it’ll relax the muscle – especially if you’ve had in there a day or two.
7.50pm – SEASON’S GREETINGS
Hold your horses, because now it’s time to season. “There are three schools of thought here,” explains Chris on when it comes to choosing your timing. “Before, during or after”. Do it too early, and you can draw moisture out of the steak so timing is everything. When it comes to using salt — a mainstay for many, we’re sure — flake salts tend to work best, drawing moisture to the surface, sitting on the edge and forming a savoury crust.
Bog-standard table salt, however, will sink into the meat and make it, er, extra salty. For oil, rub a light layer of sunflower oil – only enough for it to glisten – and stay clear of olive oil, it has a low smoke point and can ruin the flavor.
8.00pm – PACKING HEAT
Finally, time to get this bad boy cooking. “Always cook under what you think”, reassures L'atelier’s head chef. “You can always cook it more.” This is where theMHsteak hack comes in. To determine how the steak is currently cooked, you’ll need to get handsy. Touching each finger to your thumb and prodding the fleshy mass underneath your thumb will give you a clue to its current state.
“Index finger is rare. Middle, medium rare. Your ring finger is medium and your little finger is well done.” Time to give it a rest. A third of the original time is usually a safe bet – four minutes one side, three on the other for 3-4cm thick steak, feeling as you go.
8.10pm – CUTTING SHAPES
If you can, try and cut against the muscle fibres, judging by the way they run – it’ll make it less chewy, so you can masticate with ease.
8:15pm – TIME TO CHOW DOWN
Look at you go. You’ve nailed your first real steak, at a pro-chef level. Who needs chicken breasts, anyway?
7.00am – MORNING GLORY
The steak, packed with protein, has been repairing your ailing muscles all night and you’re now ready to go smash a session without even the thought of a pre-workout mix. What’s for dinner tonight, then?
L’atelier des Chefs cookery school based in Oxford Circus and St Paul’s has a wide range of courses from 30mins to 4hrs catering for kitchen novices to experienced home cooks.
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