‘REGULAR RECIPES’ – Buying and cooking a steak

Take your pick – Sirloin on the left, Fillet on the right



As an 18 year old, starting out in the catering trade as a barman at The Black Horse, Betley, I always looked forward to Saturday Night when Rudi, the head waiter, would cook me a steak after work, (often in the early hours following a wedding or some other function). He did not like chips so we always had new potatoes and a tossed mixed salad, accompanied by a bottle of good red wine, we knew how to live! The quality of the meat there was superb and the cooking was just how I liked it, medium rare. I have not, and will not, grow tired of a steak meal.

I remember during my time at the Crown Hotel, Stone, under the management of the late Cyril Murdoch, we had Aberdeen Angus steaks delivered direct from Scotland each week which were fabulous, older readers will recall the quality of our meals during the mid-1970’s, and early 1980’s, along with the excellent service in the restaurant, bar and ballroom by yours truly.

I have, for many years, used a butcher in Newcastle who never let me down regarding good quality meat, but I have now found Griffins of Stone, down Adies Alley, who sell excellent meats, supplied by Ken Brown of Hilderstone. (see above photo, Sirloin on the left, Fillet on the right). It is my opinion that the little extra cost of quality meat from an independent butcher is well worth paying, especially for those special occasions.

(By the way, Griffins also sell a marvellous steak pie using with their own ingredients, along with award winning sausages and bacon).


When buying a sirloin/rump steak you should take note of the appearance of the meat as well as the size and price, heavy marbling of intramuscular fat, streaking through the lean

meat, is required to bring out the flavours as well as being more juicy and tender. The colour should be pink rather than cherry red. The trend these days is for the fat along the side of a sirloin/rump to be cut off for presentation purposes, I prefer to buy my steaks fully fatted (if that is the phrase) because it helps the cooking process, adding flavour and texture as the pan is lubricated by the melting fat. You can always cut it off and leave it on your plate at the end of your meal.


Fillet steak is a very lean cut of meat therefore has much less marbling, so, look for texture, the finer the better, and colour, pinker rather than red.

To cook steak:

Take meat out of the fridge in good time to come to room temperature.

Oil the steak, not the pan. Season after cooking, not before.

(Pepper will burn in the hot pan affecting the taste, and salt will dry out the meat affecting the juiciness and texture). I always use milled salt and pepper.

A heavy bottomed frying pan is second only to a professional kitchen grill for cooking steaks; place your dry (no oil) pan on a high heat, you need a very hot cooking surface, turn the heat down and place your oiled steak in the pan, cook for one minute, turn over, cook for a further minute, giving you a rare steak, allow to rest for a minute or two before serving.

Increase cooking time for medium and well-done, but only turn your steak once during the cooking time. With practice, you can read how cooked your steak is by simply prodding with a fingertip, feeling the texture and seeing the bounce-back.


My favourite sauce with a steak is simple to make; put crushed black pepper corns into 150ml. stock over a medium heat, (the more pepper corns, the hotter it will be), allow to bubble away for a few minutes, I sometimes add sliced mushrooms at this stage as well, lower the heat and slowly add 150ml. double cream, (too high heat will curdle the sauce), gently simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring all the time, to allow the sauce to thicken, and it’s ready to pour over your steak.