I love it when a plan comes together.
Mid-september, I decided I’d try to cook a steak by pre-cooking in the oven first and then quickly turning in the pan. I’d done it once before and it was a tentative success, though flawed. At the meat counter at Sainsbury’s we picked out two small but thick fillets of Aberdeen Angus, just because Angus is fucking amazing meat. We probably wouldn’t have bought it if we’d looked at the price, though… over 30 British Pounds per kilogram! Crikey! When it beeped through at the cash register, my nerves shot upwards at an alarming pace. What if I fuck this up?!
When I got home, I tightly wrapped the fillets individually in aluminium foil and put them in the oven, which was set to the lowest setting (50 Celsius here). I let them sit there on their grill for about an hour while I made mashed potato and set greens to steam.
When I took the fillets out and carefully unwrapped them, they were slightly browning at the very edges, but mostly still red and lying in a small pool of their own juice. I put butter in two pans (high, but not full heat) and then fillets in one pan, asparagus and mushrooms in one. I turned the fillets and the veg in the pans, more or less 60-90 seconds for each side of the fillets, and then I was done.
As I assembled all the pieces, I started properly salivating. Everything looked just right. I was not disappointed. The greens had steamed to perfection with nothing overcooked and nothing raw. The mushrooms were golden brown on the outside and cooked all the way through, but hadn’t gone squishy yet. The potato mash was really creamy and with just the right seasoning. And finally, the Angus was red all the way through, but didn’t have a single millimetre of raw meat, and it was so tender I could pull it apart quite easily with my fingers. To me, it was like the steak in The Matrix when Cypher goes “ignorance is bliss”.
A combination of good cooking and fortuitous timing on every end made this the most perfect meal I’ve probably ever cooked in my entire life, and it’s likely I’ll never be able to reproduce it. That won’t stop me from trying, though!
Moral of this story: If you want full control over your steak on a regular cooker: Pre-cook it in the oven on a low-low setting (It shouldn’t be more than 50-70 degrees in there, otherwise, you’ll overcook it) and then quickly fry it on high in a pan. Also, before you try this on really expensive meat, practice on cheaper stuff, and also practice your timing with steaming and all that.
I must say that this: I got this tip from one of the waiters at First Coast, the best goddamned eatery in Edinburgh. They make amazing food with equal focus on both meat-dishes and vegetarian ones (something you don’t see very often, and something I appreciate as I mostly don’t eat meat) and they’re extremely reasonable compared to other gourmet restaurants and compared to what you get. If you’re ever in Edinburgh, look them up. They know their stuff. (Also, they don’t do “weekend staff”, so you’ll always get people who know what they’re doing, unlike their neighbouring restaurant, The Sizzling Scot.)