Grilled Sirloin Steak

How to cook the Perfect Steak

Valentines Cover

What can be more romantic on Valentine’s Day than to cook and share a delicious steak with your partner, served with a rich buttery Bearnaise Sauce, some thick cut chips, and a crisp green salad? Here are the steps you need to prepare a fabulous steak just like a professional grill chef;

Grilled Sirloin Steak

Char-grilled Sirloin Steak

Buy the Best Meat You Can

You need to find a butcher who knows the provenance of his supplies, even better a farm shop or butcher who breeds his own cattle. Well hung ( matured ) grass fed beef is best. Good meat is expensive, but you are better buying less and better quality than more of an unknown piece of meat. The choice of cut will affect the flavour of your steak, rump and flank are very tasty but require perhaps a little more skill to cook correctly, a fillet is the most expensive cut and very tender but perversely not as flavoursome as the cheaper pieces of meat. I would settle in the middle for a piece of rib eye steak with some nice marbling of fat. The best ever Rib eye I have tasted is from the tiny island of Alderney and the grass-fed, twenty-eight day aged beef from Kiln Farm.

Aged Rib eye Steaks

Well marbled Kiln Farm Rib eye Steak

Fat is your Friend

Marbling is the small specks of white to yellow fat you can see in some cuts of meat they will render down during cooking and help keep the meat moist. Most importantly remember fat adds flavour to any cut, this is why beef joints such as silverside are often wrapped in fat by the butcher for a roasting joint.

Buy a Big Steak

For maximum flavour we want to get a good char on the outside of your steak while keeping the meat juicy and tender inside and this can be difficult with a thin cut for even an expert. The solution is one supersized steak to share, instead of two 350 gr steaks get one thick cut 750 gr steak.

Thick Steak

Cook from Room Temperature

It can be difficult to cook a steak and raise the temperature in the center if it comes straight out of your fridge at three to five degrees. Take your steak out of the fridge at least an hour before you want to cook it.

Hot, Hot, Hot

This is very important if you are barbecuing, using a griddle pan or just a big old heavy-bottomed cast iron frying pan, the choice of award-winning steakhouse Hawksmoor, it needs to be hot. Very hot. You don’t want to be able to hold your hand close to the grill or pan. Barbecuing over charcoal will give the steak a lovely smoky finish.



If your steak is in a plastic bag or container, remove and pat it dry with kitchen paper.  Immediately before serving generously season with sea salt and pepper. Chef’s season meat exceedingly well it is probably the biggest difference between them and a home cook so don’t be afraid. I would use about a four to one ratio sea salt to fresh roughly ground black pepper. You don’t need to add anything else unless you want to add a little freshly ground coriander or smoked sea salt for a little extra flavour.

Oil and Butter

You don’t need any oil in the pan but if you want you can add butter towards the end of cooking and turn the heat down to stop burning. You can add a few thyme sprigs and a crushed clove of garlic for extra flavour if you desire. This will give your steak a buttery, creamy finish but you can finish the steak without the butter maintaining the extra crisp finish.


Carefully place the steak on the grill or in the pan and leave it for a couple of minutes and then using a pair of tongues turn over. As long as the pan or grill is hot enough you should have no problem with sticking. WARNING you may get some smoke so open a window the pan needs to be hot enough for your steak to develop a delicious crust, so don’t overcrowd the grill or pan. Carry on turning the steak to prevent burning. If there is a thick layer of fat on your steak, hold it vertically, with tongs, to brown the fat. For cooking times follow this link, remember your steak will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat.


When the steak is ready it is vitally important to let it rest, at home place it on a warm plate cover with foil and wrap in a couple of T-towels and leave for at least five minutes this allows the meat to finish cooking and suck all the juices back, otherwise they will leak as soon as the meat is cut, and it will be dry.

 Steak 3

Slice the meat against the grain, rather than parallel to the fibers in the meat and serve with Bearnaise Sauce.

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? Steak and Bearnaise Sauce requires some out of the box choices to match the richness and slight acidity of the sauce try a bold, slightly acidic Chilean Cabernet or a big, bold in your face oaked Californian Chardonnay if you prefer beer try a hoppy English IPA beer.

Allergens in this recipe are;

 Milk    If you use butter

Please see the Allergens Page

Valentines Cover

Valentine’s Day Oysters Blonde and Blue

Valentine’s Day Bearnaise Sauce

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Mousse

Whole cooked Lobster

Clarissa Dickson Wright – Cooking with a Legend

Or how to poach a Lobster with Clarissa Dickson Wright

When I was working as a chef for the Tresco Estate everyone discovered we were to be the focus of an episode of ‘Clarissa and the Countryman‘, a series on some of the great landed estates of the English aristocracy. As the island was in winter mode with many of the staff on holiday I was very fortunate to be given the chance to chauffeur the two stars around the island in a golf buggy and help with the final days filming. It was an amazing encounter and Clarissa and Johnny Scott were formidable, fascinating and charming guests.

Fresh Lobster

Fresh Lobster

It was eye-opening to see the work that goes into even the shortest of TV clips and in particular the last shot of the program where Clarissa and Johnny sat in the middle of one of the longest beaches on Tresco, Appletree Bay, and boiled a fresh Scillonian lobster over a fire of roaring driftwood. The camera and operator were placed in a small boat and zoomed in from the sea to film a close up of the chatting stars. All this would be perfectly easy in the height of summer but in March with a blustery sea breeze a little more complicated.

All the necessary ingredients and equipment was procured including two glorious lobsters, a large pan and the one single juicy lemon growing in the world-famous garden. Runners for the program and willing volunteers were drafted in to block off any entrances to the beach, patiently explaining to bird watchers and dog walkers the presence of the film crew. A pit was dug in the sand, and dry wood piled insufficient to heat the large pan of sea water. All very authentic and excellent, apart from the increasingly gusty breeze. Despite the best efforts of former scouts, producers, locals, and Uncle Tom Cobbley the fire would not take and the light was dying as the sun set over the next island. There was only one solution dear reader.

A quick trip to the island store, known as the Harrods of the Islands, an armful of firelighters later the fire was roaring ( the lighter fuel helped too ). The pan was filled with boiling water from the kitchen at The New Inn and a backup, precooked lobster dropped in the now steaming pan. The last touch to ensure a brilliant shot of flames licking up the side of the pan, involved yours truly laid in the sand, arms outstretched waterproof jacket acting as a windbreak. A bright pink lobster was duly removed from the boiling water and cut open on the beach. The result, a great piece of film. I will always cherish the memories of this day.

Whole cooked Lobster

Freshly cooked Lobster

I am at heart a big fan of enjoying the sweet delicate flavour of lobster as unadorned as possible and simply poached and served with a little melted butter and lemon. This, however, is not a simple matter, the purist would have you boil the lobster in seawater and this is not always easy or even safe. The alternative is fresh water with added sea salt ( add thirty grammes of natural sea salt per litre of water ).

My own choice is in a light court-bullion which is an ideal cooking medium for poaching fish, seafood, and chicken. I have adopted my recipe from Richard Onley’s, The French Menu Cookbook, a recently reprinted classic and thoroughly good read. Today’s top tip is when poaching lobsters place them in your freezer ten minutes prior to cooking, this will sedate the lobsters sufficiently to allow you to easily drop them in your boiling pan without the lobsters thrashing about and splashing you with scalding hot liquid.

Fruits de Mare

Fruits de Mare with cooked Lobster

To poach 1 or 2 1 ½ lb Lobsters or a whole poached Salmon

4 litres of freshly drawn cold Water

350 ml quality White Wine

3 large Shallots, peeled and chopped

4 sticks of Celery, washed and chopped

2 medium Carrots, peeled and chopped

1 Leek, thoroughly washed and sliced

½ bulb of Fennel, washed and sliced

1 Bay Leaf

1 sprig fresh Thyme

1 sprig Tarragon

8 fresh Parsley stems

½ teaspoon Black Peppercorns, crushed

1 fresh Lemon, halved

Place in a very large pan, cover and bring to the boil. Add the lobsters and bring back to the boil and simmer for eight to ten minutes. Using a spider remove the lobsters and plunge in lots of iced water to arrest any further cooking.

For a medium poached salmon, place the washed salmon in a fish kettle or deep tray on a triple folded piece of foil. This will allow you to lift the cooked salmon out later. Cover with cold court bullion and a tight-fitting lid. Bring to the boil, simmer for four minutes and remove from heat. Leave in cooking liquor until total cold. Lift out and drain.

The French Menu Cookbook

Richard Olney

Random House

ISBN 978-1-60774-002-5

Allergens in this recipe are;

Celery   Crab

Please see the Allergens Page