6 STEPS TO GRILL THE PERFECT STEAK
What are the secrets to cooking the perfect Steak? Whilst everyone has an opinion, and many restaurants claim only they can do it, Grilling steak is easy as long as you follow a few simple steps:
Buy Good Steak
Buy the best you can afford, and know the different cuts. Many will claim Fillet is the king of steaks, but on a grill the lack of fat can often result in a dry steak. Choose a good Ribeye or Sirloin, and look for good marbling of fat through the steak - this will melt as it cooks giving you a delicious, juicy steak.
Seek out some of the more unusual cuts as well - our favourite is Bavette, a loose textured and highly flavoured cut from the flank. Half the price of the more famous cuts, Bavette is often called the Butcher's cut, as they often reserved it for their own pleasure.
Finally know where your meat comes from - we only source from Forty Hall - an organic farm, and Turner and George, who specialise in specialise in ethically and naturally reared meat.
Warm up the Steak
Throwing a fridge cold steak onto a hot grill is only going to work for the very thinnest steaks – otherwise the outside will burn before the middle even begins to heat up. Cooking a great steak starts with bringing it up to room temperature, before you cook, so take your steaks out of the fridge an hour before you plan to cook.
Season the Steak
A few drops of oil will help to prevent your steak from sticking. Use a flavourless oil with a high smoking point like vegetable or groundnut oil, but only a few drops - any more and you risk a flare up on the grill.
When it comes to seasoning, use a liberal sprinkle of sea salt to season your steak directly before you place it on the grill. Don’t add pepper until after you cook as it could burn in the heat and taste bitter.
Cook the Steak
A nice thick steak is delicious, but cooking thick steak presents a problem, as it can be very difficult to cook the inside to the level you want without burning the outside - the way to solve this is to use an Indirect Grill, which means you do not cook the steak directly over the coals for the whole cook.
To cook using this method, make 2 zones on your barbecue, with all the coals burning on 1 side to provide the heat, whilst the other side is cooler and enables you to roast slowly without burning - just like your oven, except with lots more flavour! You will need a covered BBQ to do this, with a vent to help both control and keep in the heat - a Kettle or Weber BBQ would be perfect, as would any good covered drum style barbecue.
Next, your grill needs to be hot, really hot. A simple hand test will tell you when its ready – hold your hand 20cm above the grill – you should not be able to leave it there for more than 2 seconds. A really hot grill will give your steak the perfect crust.
Start by searing your steak on the grill as normal, but once this is done on both sides, slide it over to the cooler side of the grill, pull down the cover and continue to barbecue your steak in a more controlled way.
Feel the Steak
Whilst steak cooking times can act as a guide, ultimately that is all it is. In outdoor cooking there are more variables that the cookbook does not know - how hot your grill is, how thick your steak is, and how warm it is when you put on the grill. Each one of these will impact the cooking time for your steak, so you need to learn to know exactly when it is done yourself, rather than blindly following a time.
Learning to tell if a steak is cooked is done by feel by most chefs – a soft steak will be rare and a firm one will be well done. More precisely, compare the feel of the steak to the feel of your hand:
Rare – open your palm and press the pad underneath your thumb. When your palm is open this will be soft and squishy like a rare (or blue) steak.
Well Done – bring your thumb over to touch the tip of your little finger – you’ll notice the same pad will now be much, much firmer – like a well done steak. Medium is in between and so on.
This takes a bit of time to learn, but is ultimately the best test, used by the best chefs around the world and is one of the things we teach on our BBQ Courses. While you learn, you can also use a digital meat thermometer if you have one. Once you think your steak is almost cooked insert your probe into the side of the steak (not through the top, or you will break the crust). Be careful though – every hole you make will help you test temperature, but will also be a hole for those lovely juices to escape from. Too many holes and you will have a dry steak!
Steak Temperature guide (Celsius)
Raw Steak : below 50
Rare Steak : 51-55
Medium Rare Steak : 55-60
Medium Steak : 60-65
Medium Well Steak : 65-69
Well Done Steak : 70 +
REST the Steak
Resting your steak is a crucial part of the cook - allowing the juices to redistribute through the meat, which both helps it finish cooking, and leaves it moister and more flavourful. So pre-warm your plates, and let the steaks sit for 5-10 minutes before serving or cutting them, and your will have a much tastier steak.
The sushi grade salmon, some of the best in the world, are raised amid six-meter swells, crystal clear water and the wild currents of the North Atlantic Ocean, where the relentless North Atlantic Drift and cold Arctic currents merge constantly replenishing the waters.
Once at the smokehouse the salmon are hand fileted, before carefully applying a 10 hour salt cure. It is a tactile process which takes a thorough understanding of the product to ensure just the right amount of moisture is removed from the fish to achieve the perfect texture for an excellent smoked salmon.
Following the cure, each fillet is then gently rinsed to remove any extra grains before fillets are hung to dry for a further 12 hours, and develop the critical sticky outer pellicle layer which which help the fish to capture and absorb the smoke.
Finally to where the magic really happens - after a lot of research, Gunnar & Lowry developed their own unique smoking technique and settled on a blend of woods native to Norway : Beech, Juniper and Alder - a combination that makes for a rich, smoky & complex flavour that is undeniably Scandinavian and incredibly tasty.
For optimum flavour, the fish are smoked in the kiln for up to 36 hours. They are hung traditionally, which allows smoke and fresh air to circulate around the fillet for even coverage. It's a method which prevents oil and grease from getting trapped underneath the outer pellicle layer which forms on the salmon during smoking, and keeps the salmon lean and firm. Once smoked the fish are finally cut and sent off to market for us all to enjoy.
Our 5 star rated bread courses are run at the Dusty Knuckle bakery, and whether you are new to baking, want to improve your bread-making skills or are looking for the perfect gift then we have something for you.
We run a range of evening and weekend courses which will teach you all the skills you need, in a fun, friendly environment. Our courses range from introductory to advanced levels, and we also offer gift certificates which make the perfect present.
The Dusty Knuckle Bakery
The Dusty Knuckle is an award winning artisan microbakery born in a cleverly converted shipping container in Dalston, Hackney (20 mins from London Liverpool street).
Our tutors Max, Rebecca & Daisy have quickly developed the bakery's reputation for making fantastic bread, and as well as supplying local restaurants and delicatessens, you can also find their bread at a number of the best farmer's markets in London.
On our full day course we start with a delicious breakfast of the bakery's bread & pastries and great coffee (on tap throughout the day) as we get to know each other and understand everyone's baking experience to date. We often welcome complete beginners and that works just fine!
The team will then give you a grounding in the key breadmaking principles, what ingredients and equipment you need, before we get you making your first dough.
You will be guided through each recipe and will also have a full set of recipes and notes to take away. As you work you will learn more and more about the artisan methods of gluten development, mixing, autolysis and dough management, as well as the impact of variations in time & temperature.
The team will also give you personal feedback on how to develop & improve your skills.
Working with Sourdough
Sourdough is getting more and more popular every day and for good reason - it has much more flavour, is a natural product and is much better for you as well as the long fermentation gives a bread which is much easier to digest.
On our full day course we start by making your first dough using the Bakery's sourdough starter made from wild yeasts. You will learn why it takes longer to ferment than a regular yeasted dough, and also some tricks of how you can use this to your advantage by fitting the longer schedule into the rest of your day.
You will also take away a sample of the Bakery's sourdough starter with full instructions of how to look after it, and even how to make your own from scratch.
Developing your Skills
Once you have got your sourdough started, you'll then be guided through 4 further doughs which are designed help you practice your skills, but also to see the variations between different types of bread.
On the course you will get a great insight into the life & rhythm of an artisan bakery, but the team are equally focussed on ensuring you take away the skills you need to make great bread in your own home - where presumably you do not have professional deck ovens!
One great tip is to bake using a Dutch oven which is a large casserole pot with a lid (usually cast iron). A pre-heated dutch oven will hold the oven heat long enough to give your bread a good spring, and the lid will also contain the steam released from the dough in the oven to make a delicious crust with a natural sheen. You can read more of our tips for homebaking here.
7 New Bakers are born!
After a hearty lunch you will return to your stations to making & shaping your doughs.
As your last breads are baked in the oven you will also have a chance to ask any questions about the skills you have learnt, or cover any troubleshooting issues you may have from baking at home (bring in your photos for us to discuss!).
Ready to go home
As well as your new found skills you will also take away a lovely jute bag containing all the recipes, your sourdough starter & all the bread you've made - make sure you book your friends in for a visit to try your produce!
'Really enjoyed the day. Excellent knowledgeable instructor, very patient & took time to explain processes to everyone' Mark
'Absolutely great night and I learnt so much about making great bread. Top praise for the way the bakers at the Dusty Knuckle taught us. It was great fun! Michelle
'Really enjoyable. I'm inspired to start baking regularly to keep the culture alive!' Mike
Booking a Course
Day 2 – anytime in the morning
Throw away about ¾ of your initial mix, leaving the rest in the bowl. Add another 300g of organic wholewheat flour and 300ml of warm water. Leave the mixture uncovered for 1-2 hours, then cover it and leave to rest in a warm place.. By the end of day 2 you should start to see some small bubbles appear in the mix.
Day 4 – anytime in the morning
Again the mix should have grown to about twice the size it was the day before. This time you want to throw away all but 200g of your starter. To do this put your bowl on your scales and keep removing mixture until the weight reads 200g more than the weight of the empty bowl (see day 1).
Add another 300g of organic wholewheat flour and 300ml of warm water. Leave the mixture uncovered for 1-2 hours, then cover it and leave to rest in a warm place.
Day 5 - The starter should now be lively enough to use.
If you are making bread on day 5 then you will need to feed your starter following your chosen recipe. If not then you can keep it in the fridge in a kilner jar, where it will sit happily for at least a week without feeding. When you are ready to bake, just remove from the fridge and give it a fresh feed (details are in the actual bread recipe to come). Although you can keep a starter in the fridge for longer without a feed we’d recommend you give it a feed at least once a week to keep it lively and give it a bit of love!
We had a great time on our recent bread making course at the Dusty Knuckle bakery, where Max Tobias gave a fantastic introduction of how to make artisan bread.
It was great to learn the basic skills, make a number of different loaves and also get Max's tips for making a great loaf (read all about this in our recent blog)...
As well as enjoying and learning new skills one thing that people tell us they wish they had was an easy way to transfer the learning they get on the courses they attend into their homes on a regular basis.
Well, we’ve listened, and we have a super exciting, exclusive and FREE offer with the guys over at LOAF app (no pun intended!) for you to pilot our new 4 week online class were you will get:
- Exclusive baking recipes - from how to make your own sourdough starter to some delicious artisan breads and a real authentic slow fermented Italian Pizza. You’ll get exclusive recipes from the bakery each week.
- Learn with others - As part of a class you will share photos and tips together online
- Every week we’ll have a star baker of our very own who will get featured by LOAF
As well as all this you will also get access to all the other recipes and content on LOAF, a brand new interactive recipe app. They’re on a mission to become the ultimate kitchen companion, connecting people to over 3000 recipes based on food preferences and providing beautiful, simple, and interactive step by step guidance so you can breeze through your cooking. They’ve recently been featured as one of the ‘must watch’ apps globally and were also recently profiled by the BBC. You can see more at www.loafapp.co.uk
So what could be better than that bread lovers!?
There’s just 2 conditions:-
Firstly, you need to have access to an iPad as that is where we have built the class.
Secondly, at the end of the course you give us 5 minutes of your time to complete a short online survey on what worked for you, and anything you think we need to improve for the next class.
So if you are interested please email email@example.com by Wednesday 23rd September and we will send you details of how to register and download the app. Be quick though as we only have a limited number of spaces!
Max's 5 top tips for a great Sourdough
1. Feed the Mother starter every day - for a good Sourdough you need a good healthy Mother, not one that's been languishing in the back of the fridge on a starvation diet for the last 2 weeks. If its not fed, then its metabolism will slow down and it takes time to get back into shape. Give it a small feed every day and this should make sure its always ready for action and will give you a good rise. If you fancy making your own then check out a really easy recipe here
2. Follow the recipe & be precise! It may sound basic, but baking is a precision business so be careful to follow every step to the letter - including any instructions on time & temperature as these just as important to the process as the ingredients themselves. Digital scales and a good digital thermometer can both be bought online for around £10 each and can make a huge difference to your baking results.
3. Make a bigger batch - If you can manage it then consider making a batch of 3-4 loaves at a time as this has 2 advantages. Firstly by making a single loaf your dough will have a larger surface area relative to the volume inside - which risks drying out the top surface of the dough and hindering gluten development. Secondly, Baking is all about practice and by making more than one loaf you can practice you skills and observe how small differences in what you did to each loaf effect the final product. Fresh bread makes a great little gift for friends and you can always freeze some to enjoy later.
4. Don't use a fan oven - firstly it will struggle to hold the highest temperatures as it is constantly forcing hot air out of the oven, and secondly the fan will likely be focussed on one point on your loaf, which will crust prematurely and either limit the rise or make it lopsided (or both)!
5. Use a Dutch oven or a Baking stone - Domestic ovens are just not a match for a professional deck oven as they don't get hot enough. However, you can come close by baking your bread in a Dutch oven - this holds the oven heat as high as possible to give your bread a good spring, and the lid will also keep the steam from your loaf contained, making a delicous crust with a natural sheen. If you can't get a Dutch oven then the next best thing is to use a baking stone and ensure the oven has lots of steam by keeping a tray of boiling water at the base and then using a few sprays of a demister when you pop your loaf in.
We run regular courses with Max in the evenings and at the weekends. If you'd like to find out more info then please click here
If you are tired of the rat race and want to get back to something a bit more real, then take inspiration from Julie Fisher, founder of Ruby Violet. Originally a photographer by trade, as the digital revolution started to take over Julie decided she wanted a change.
She started making ice cream at home to sell at Broadway market, and after a year of very encouraging sales and a growing fan base, she made the leap to open up her own shop in Tufnell Park and is now regularly listed as one of the best ice cream parlours in London.
Right from the start Julie decided there were going to be no compromises on quality or provenance of the ingredients, and wanted to locally source as much as she could. So she uses only organic milk (not homogenised as this makes better ice cream), free range eggs & British sugar, and has some unusual sources for some of her flavours.
These include Blackberries and damsons come from her home village of Flintham in Nottinghamshire, walnuts from one of her Customer's gardens in France, and honey from the bees of Kentish town, which is so local that when she's making honeycomb the bees all try to get back into the shop - seriously!
So after a warm welcome and quick introduction to Ruby Violet, Julie took us behind the scenes to learn more about the process and see one of her most popular ice creams being produced. The process always starts with 4 ingredients - Milk, Cream, Eggs & Sugar which are combined to make a base mix. This is quickly pasteurised and is then rested overnight to make a better, longer lasting ice cream.
As the base mix was poured into the batch freezer we got a chance to taste some of the more exotic ingredients and talk about how Julie creates some of her more unusual flavours, which have included Stilton & white port, Guinness & malted milk, and Chilli Chocolate made with the infamous x-rated Ribman sauce.
One of the great things about craft food is the provenance of the ingredients and how flavours do change with the seasons - unlike the supermarket, craft food doesn't always have to taste the same. Julie explains how she rotates her 18 ice cream flavours based on what is good that week, as well as how different varieties of fruit require tweaks to the final recipe.
Once the base mix started to freeze and had thickened up, it was ready to add the honey and after a few more minutes it was time to churn. We all got a chance to have a go, before what I have to say is one of my taste highlights of the year so far - freshly made honeycomb dipped into luscious Kentish town honey ice cream.
Then finally onto the main event - tasting the ice cream & creating our own sundaes from a choice of 18 delicious flavours including Julie's #1 seller Salted Caramel with Almond brittle, Chocolate sorbet, Stem Ginger frozen yoghurt or Masala chai. Together with a host of toppings including caramelised almonds, meringue pieces and fresh hot chocolate sauce this made a delicious end to a fascinating evening which everyone enjoyed.
We will shortly be repeating this event. For tickets and details of all our other events please click here.
In the latest of our series of small producer masterclasses we joined Philip Wilton, owner of Wildes Cheese, to get a fascinating insight into the world of cheese. Over the next 2 hours we followed the production process of St Bruce, one of Philip's most popular cheeses, as its turned from milk into a fully formed cheese.
After a quick welcome we get straight down to business as Rudolfo poured the culture into the heated milk, which started to acidify the milk and ultimately help it develop the cheese's wonderful, mellow buttery flavour.
As this is done Philip explains of course that this is not just any old milk, but directly sourced (Philip takes almost all the farm's milk) from a 50 strong herd of outdoor grazing cows in Rye, Kent. It has a higher fat content and a richer flavour that comes straight from nature - no growth hormones & no stalling, and because the herd is so small there is natural variation in the flavour of the milk as the grass and flowers in the cows diet changes through the year. If we needed proof he then passes round a cup of 'proper' milk, and one from the local supermarket. No comparison.
Philip then explains in more detail how the ageing process works, talking us through the '7 ages of St Bruce cheese': 7 cheeses, all at different stages of the process. As it drys, the cheese initially firms, before the bacteria inside start to develop gases which create that delicious light texture. This expands the cheese, and after 4 weeks it is given a beer wash, which again takes the bacteria in a slightly different direction for the last 2 weeks of the process.
As the culture continues to do its thing - the longest part of the process - we then get a tour of Philip's micro dairy. He's only just moved in as growth over the last couple of years has required bigger premises and although great news, this also gave him a problem - how to move the ageing room? Each dairy has its own unique character driven by the mix of bacteria and moulds and this is what gives each cheese its' unique flavour profile. In Philip's case this has taken 3 years to develop & leaving it behind simply was not an option.
We see the rennet go into the milk, which separates the curds from the whey, and are then treated to a tasting of the full range of Philip's cheese. Frankly they were all delicious, but highlights for me were of course the mild, buttery St Bruce; Highcross, a Queso Freso style with salty, lemony notes; a fresh curd served with wild garlic pesto (yum!); Howard, a 'white blue' - super creamy, with a delicate blue aftertaste; and of course Alexandra - the first cheese Philip made, with a smooth, more mature style and recent bronze medal winner in the 2014 World cheese awards. Then back to St Bruce production...
We all get a chance to get involved - cutting the curds, stirring under the watchful eye of Rudolfo, and tasting the curds as they develop in texture and subtleties of flavour over the next 1/2 hour. Then finally its time to drain the whey and start shaping the cheese - a very delicate process as no pressure is applied. The cheese almost shapes itself, and after 10 minutes its ready to turn out to everyone's delight.
A truly fascinating evening, and fantastic to see a team of great artisans at work, producing great cheese by hand in the heart of the city.
"Another great event. Amazing cheese and experience."
"Amazing I had a super time and feel I have learned a lot."
"A very entertaining and tasty evening - thanks the cheesy chappies!"
"Amazing! Philip and his team were great, it was really fun getting to be part of the process and of course the cheese was delicious :)"
Due to popular demand we will be repeating this masterclass in coming weeks, as well as announcing dates for other tours and courses on bread chocolate & cake. To the first to hear the dates have a look at our meet up group at the link below or subscribe to our newsletter.
A&H was founded by two school mates, Paul Anspach and Jack Hobday, who started honing their skills home brewing in 2011 & our evening started with Jack explaining how they got to where they are today.
After winning early plaudits for the quality of their beers, including encouragement from wine & beer buff Oz Clarke, they entered one of their early brews, the Porter, into the International Beer Challenge 2013. Despite having no premises or labels they won a silver medal in the blind tasting so things quickly got a bit more serious.
After hearing the back-story Jack then explained how the Anspach & Hobday vision is to always to combine inspiration from London's rich brewing traditions with a contemporary approach to both ingredients and process which gives the best of both worlds.
This approach is reflected in those award winning labels – always a combination of the old & the new - and certainly seems to be working as A&H are now listed in over 50 pubs (details here), as well as having the honour of being London’s highest beer (served in the Shrangri-La bar on the 52nd floor of the nearby Shard) as well as being listed in nearby Michelin star Restaurant Story.
After that it was back out to the bar, where Jack guided us through a tutored tasting of his beers, paired by us with some of the best craft food London has to offer, including traditionally made cheeses from Neals Yard - Sparkenhoe Red Leicester & Stichelton, amazing charcuterie from Cobble Lane Cured & meaty treats from Borough market's Ginger Pig & Sillfield Farm.
As we worked our way through the beers Jack gave each an introduction, talking about its inspiration, the process & tasting notes before opening up a wider Q&A. We got plenty of questions and learned a lot more about how Jack & Paul use the best ingredients they can find, and experiment with traditional and modern methods to create their classic beers - so different to the mass produced stuff made by the bigger breweries!
Tasting The Beers
A hazy golden beer with a hoppy, fruity aroma - someone called it as mandarin & vanilla ice-cream, followed by a delicious fruity taste with notes of citrus & tropical fruit with grassy hints and nice hoppy finish. Really good.
A real stand out beer, this is a great brown ale - thick and chewy with a solid malt base. Lots of interesting flavours which are set off beautifully by the warming wood smoke & hints of vanilla that runs through the nose and palate. It has a lovely sweetness with touches of seasonal spice - perfect for when its cold outside and you are sat by the fire!
A light, hazy amber ale with a small, fine, white head the aroma is soft, creamy with a variety of citrus notes - orange, grapefruit & lime. Crisp taste, with a great combination of marmalade & key lime, together with a lovely creaminess, hints of straw, aniseed and very appealing slight minerally dryness to finish.
Anspach & Hobday's lead beer & a fitting way to end the evening. The Porter (6.7%) is rich, dark & roasted. Brewed to the same recipe as the first time it was home-brewed in 2011, it won Silver at the International Beer Challenge 2013 as home-brew and then Gold in 2014 as commercial brew. Rich deep aroma of freshly ground coffee, dark chocolate and dark berries, followed on the palate by a rich, complex toast & malty flavour. Very smooth finish with a perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness & well deserved of all its growing accolades.
All in all it was a great night - relaxed & informative, with a great chance to get all those brewing questions answered by a true expert while we enjoyed a great selection of some of London's best craft beer.
"What a fantastic event ... the Brewery tour was really interesting, beers were delicious, and gourmet tidbits sourced from all over London were very tasty too!"
"Thanks for arranging ... it was a good balance of information and tasting/socialising. I don't like feeling saturated with facts, so I was happy with the relaxed approach and invitation for further questions."
"Lovely evening in the brewery. Look forward to the next one."
More details on our next events can be found here
Our first tour was a visit to the e5Bakehouse and proved to be a fantastic introduction to the world of craft food. The Bakehouse was started by Ben MacKinnon & is a great story of vision & inspiration - Ben's background is a degree in sustainability and a short lived career in renewable energy. After travelling to Spain and making his first loaf, Ben returned to the UK and enrolled in a 5 day specialist Sourdough course at the School of Artisan Food to learn the skills to start his own bakery.
From there he first borrowed (from a local pizza restaurant) and then, through a little trial & error, built his own wood-fired oven and started selling homemade bread door to door. Fast forward 4 years and the Bakehouse is now a thriving enterprise, running 24/7 spread over two railway arches, producing 1,000 loaves a day, as well as a delicious range of cakes & pastries, and employing 35 people.
We then hear more about the ingredients & most importantly the flour they use, all of which is organic. Ed explains how the Bakehouse is increasingly sourcing directly from UK farms who are growing diverse and ancient varieties of wheat. These are not only more flavoursome, but are of course more sustainable. Suppliers such as Cann Mill, Maple Farm and Gilchester’s Organics provide them with the first rate UK organic flour which continues to feed the ongoing evolution of the Bakehouse and fuel their mission to use exclusively UK wheat.
Finally we return to the second arch and take a seat as Ed introduces the loaves we have to taste. Starting with Hackney Wild we take a journey through 8 different types of bread, each making mental notes so we can go and buy one of our freshly baked favourites after the tour.
All in all it was a fantastic tour - a lot to take in, but truly inspiring both in the Bakehouse vision for a sustainable food chain, but also in the quality of the bread produced!
The Bakehouse in numbers:-
35 wholesale deliveries are made a day
20 miles are biked a day for deliveries
100 loaves can be baked at a time
1,000 loaves baked a day
12 different types of sourdough are on offer
200 years old is the age of the bakery’s starter, which is said to have come from Lapland
12 to 48 is the number of hours the leaven needs to be left before baking