How to cook sirloin steak to perfection

How to cook sirloin steak to perfection

A perfectly cooked pink and juicy sirloin steak is a luxury that many of us only get to enjoy at a restaurant. Steak is an expensive choice both in a restaurant and when cooked at home, and lacking the know-how of the trained chef to decide when it is done can make the whole process quite daunting. It's important to find a good sirloin steak recipe first and foremost, but there's a wealth of handy hints and tips out there that will help you nail that perfect steak.

A lot goes into cooking the best-ever sirloin steak – you need to think about using the right pan, cooking at the right temperature, and for the right amount of time. Then there's the question of seasoning. Do you season an hour before cooking, or just before it goes in the pan? The latter is the most reliable way to get the flavour you want, but the former is still perfectly reasonable. Salting long before you cook will cure the surface of the steak, giving you even more flavour – just make sure you wipe off any excess moisture before you cook. As a general rule, we would avoid using pepper until after the steak is cooked – if your pan is hot, the pepper will burn and taste acrid, so best to add it afterwards.

One of the most important things to remember before cooking a sirloin steak is to make sure it comes to room temperature before it goes anywhere near the pan. If you cook a steak straight from the fridge, the inside will be cold and take much longer to cook, and it'll likely still be raw by the time the outside of your steak is done. An optimum thickness for a steak is between 3cm and 4cm, any thinner than this proves tricky not to overcook.

In terms of oil, it is best to use a flavourless oil with a high smoking point such as groundnut or vegetable oil. If you want to add the richness with butter, do so after you've flipped the steaks, and baste the steak with the gorgeous foaming butter as it cooks. Try adding herbs such as rosemary or thyme and garlic when you add the butter for an extra flavour dimension.

The length of time you cook your steak completely depends on personal preference. A 3-4cm thick steak cooked from room temperature will take a minute or so on each side with a few minutes in the oven to warm through the middle – the most important thing is to get a good sear on the exterior without overcooking the inside. Learning to tell if a steak is cooked by feel is the best way for most cooks, which can by done by gently prodding the pad underneath your thumb and comparing it with the meat. When your palm is open it will feel like a blue steak, whereas bringing your thumb over to touch just underneath your little finger will feel like a well done steak; in between is medium and so on.

The final thing to remember when cooking sirloin steak is the importance of resting time. When the steak is cooked it needs time for the muscle fibres to relax – cutting into it straight away will result in those delicious meat juices bleeding onto the plate. Rest the steak for about five minutes and the meat will relax and reabsorb all those juices, giving you a tender, juicy steak.

Ingredients

1
Before you begin, remove the steaks from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature (for at least 1 hour)
2
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
3
Place a heavy-based frying pan or griddle pan over a high heat and add a good dash of oil. Season the steaks liberally with flaky sea salt
4
When the oil is hot, add the steaks carefully to the pan and cook for 2 and a half minutes, or until beautifully golden on the underside
5
Turn the steaks over and add a knob of butter, some thyme and a few garlic cloves. Baste the steak with the butter and once golden on the underside, place in the oven for 2–3 minutes
6
Remove the steaks from the pan and allow to rest in a warm place for 5 minutes before serving. Season and serve

Serving suggestions

There are endless classic sides that work wonderfully with steak. Perfecting your chips is always a good move for a cosy night in, or take it to another level of feasting with some deeply decadent macaroni cheese.

Sirloin doesn't just have to stick to its usual steakhouse accompaniments, though. For a cheffier take on your steak, try Merlin Labron-Johnson's stunning sirloin recipe, served with charred tropea onions and a tangy pickled walnut salsa verde.